“MIINA ITWE, MIINA!” rasped the mortally-wounded hunter in his Cree language. He had just heard the first Bible verse of his life. “Say it again and again!” Then, “Can you remember anything more?”
“Not much,” his niece replied, “except for, ‘The one who comes I will never send away.'”
The old man asked, “Did He say this was for Crees, too?”
“I remember that well,” said the young woman. “Everybody could come, Crees as well as English.”
“Raise my head,” the bleeding man told his wife. To his niece he said, “Hold my hand. It is getting so very dark that I cannot see the road. I have no guide. What did you say was His name?”
“Jesus,” she replied, weeping.
“Jesus,” the elder whispered, and he was gone.
The story is adapted from an article by George McPeek, published in Indian Life. The only reason the niece, a Christian woman, had managed to hear the Gospel at all was because of a then recent successful pioneer church plant (close to a thousand miles away) within her own people group.
Pioneer church planting, including Bible translation, is simply the most important activity ever engaged in by mankind. The Great Commission is a cross-cultural church development commission, because no one has made disciples anywhere until a local church has either been added or established.
Christian leader and author David Womack says, “There is only one way in which the Commission can be fulfilled, and that is by establishing churches in every cultural group.”
Even the truest evangelism may still result in a “one generation wonder” if it is not followed with careful, permanent church development which alone “carries the potential to renew whole extended families, and transform whole societies.” (Hawthorne, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: Study Guide, Carey Library, 1999, p. 85)
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #492). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.