All nations. Not some, not several, not many; all. The word ‘all’ is, well, an all-encompassing word. It does not leave a whole lot of wiggle room. When you are instructed to do a task, most often you are expected to do the complete task or all of it. Webster’s defines the word this way: “1. The whole of 2. Every one of 3. Complete.” I’d say that’s pretty conclusive. And what does scripture say? Psalm 117:1, “Praise the Lord, all nations! Glorify Him, all peoples!” Psalm 67:2, “so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Of course, Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” And Mark 13:10, “And it is necessary that the gospel be preached to all nations.”
That last one, Mark 13:10, is Jesus saying it is necessary to preach the gospel to all nations. It must be done; it must be done to all nations. And then He tells us that it won’t be easy, there will be a cost. But you already know that.
As a young man growing up, I always considered the task of going to “all nations” to be that of the career missionary; you know, the one who goes to the land far away to live among the people of those “other nations”. And while that is still true to a large extent, it is becoming more and more evident that to “go” to “all nations” does not mean we must travel extensive miles. No, it means simply to “go”; to be active, to step outside your doorstep, to be aware and awake. Why? Because the nations are here. Just outside your door. In your neighborhood. At your grocery store. In the next cubicle. At your camp.
For the past couple of years here at Highland Lakes, we have been watching as the nations have come to camp. Literally, we have seen hundreds of Burmese, Hispanic, Russian, Brazilian, Korean, and other brothers and sisters take time to bring their lost friends to Highland Lakes for a camp, retreat, or conference. Here they have helped others to discover, develop, and deploy a transformed life in Christ. Here, in the heart of Indiana, people from across the globe have gathered to make sure the “gospel (is) preached to all nations.”
So, what does that mean to those of us who are locals? It means we have a great opportunity to help our multicultural brothers and sisters to engage with the nations. We have the privilege to walk with them, to understand them, and to encourage them as they look for ways to create community and to worship Christ. It means we don’t need to “go across the border”; the Father has brought the nations to us. He has brought the nations to us to allow us the chance to be partners with a host of different ethnicities as we work to develop the one ethnicity: the family of God, the church.
Dr. Jim Shields
Team Leader, Highland Lakes Baptist Camp