Many people might wonder why we need another mission organization when there are so many of them already. We explain here why we need a new mission organization like COTARI.
We, at COTARI, believe that reaching peoples of other religions and persuading them to come to Jesus Christ with the gospel is the most important last step in fulfilling the Great Commission. However, throughout the world, Christianity has great difficulty penetrating any countries dominated by so-called great religions of the world. We can see this in Islamic countries, India, South East Asian countries where Buddhism is dominated, and even in free countries such as Japan and Taiwan where nothing can stop Christian missionaries from evangelizing people there. Here is a puzzling dilemma: Christians endeavor to evangelize people in those areas, but people over there are not willing to listen to Christian messages. Why? Why are missionaries after missionaries failing to reach peoples of other faiths? Why do the conventional methods of evangelism and mission fail to deliver the message of love of God to these peoples? Doing research in this area is the first reason why COTARI was founded in 2010. The second reason for the need of COTARI is to provide practical evangelism training to Christians, because the Western church is declining due to lack of evangelism by Christians.
The Founder describes his own personal experiences and observations below in support of the above causes.
I have participated in about ten short-term missions, visiting several different countries with one to four week time periods. I also studied missiology, a study on how to do Christian missions. After 32 years of service as an engineer in a large industrial company, I received a degree of Master of Divinity (M. Div.) from a seminary and became an ordained minister. What did I learn from these experiences? What can I contribute to Christianity? I observed two trends in Christianity today. One is that somehow Christianity has not substantially penetrated those countries where one of the so-called great religions of the world dominates. The Christian populations in these countries are one to two percent or less, in spite of many hundreds of years of missionary efforts. This is true for all Muslim countries, for India, for Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia, and even for Japan and Taiwan. Sometimes, people blame political and social barriers for the failure to evangelize these countries. But how could that be true in Japan and Taiwan? There is nothing a missionary could not do in these countries. Therefore, political barriers cannot be the reason Christianity has not penetrated these countries. Social barriers could be blamed in Japan and Taiwan. However, China, South Korea, and some South American or African countries have the same or worse social barriers than Japan or Taiwan has, but are teeming with Christians in spite of their political and social barriers. This clearly shows that political or social barriers could not be blamed for the failure of Christian missions in those countries dominated by the great religions of the world. This picture does not fit well with the geographical “10-40 window” either. This geographical descriptor provides a rough picture in geography, but does not explain why these regions are not evangelized. The real reason is that they have one of these great religions. This led me to think that the strategies modern missionaries are using might not be the same as those used by Jesus Christ or the Apostle Paul. I cannot forget the panoramic picture of 4.8 billion people of other religions that the Lord showed me to spread the gospel to them 22 years ago in 1997. Few mission organizations do research in this area. If we keep failing, we cannot succeed unless we change our strategies. Doing research in mission strategies to evangelize peoples of other religions is the first reason I founded COTARI in 2010.
The other trend I observed is that very few Christians do evangelism. Moreover, few pastors do evangelism. Pastors appear to be ignorant about practical knowledge on how to do evangelism, and do not teach their congregation about this as a result. This is because seminaries do not teach about the practical aspects of evangelism. When I was attending seminary, they had one two-unit class that teaches both evangelism and apologetics together in the whole three year curriculum for my M. Div. degree. Doing evangelism is a commission (Mat. 28:18-20), but they say evangelism is a gift and should be done by those few people who are gifted. This often stems by the misinterpretation of “evangelists” in Eph. 4:11. The evangelists in Eph. 4:11 refer to a category of functions in the church, and are more like missionaries today. For example, Philip in Acts 8 is called an evangelist in Acts 21:8. Every Christian is called to do evangelism, and it is His commission, or a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Following this command should be a natural Christian response to God’s plan of salvation for our humanity. His salvation plan is expressed in the whole Bible, starting in Gen. 3:15 (proto- evangelism) and Gen. 12:1-3 (Abrahamic Covenant) and continued on to Rev. 7:9-12 (praise to the Lamb and God at the end time by all peoples). Most Christians in the Western Church are happy that they are well off and they primarily care about their own welfare. They are becoming like Jews before the exile that occurred after the fall of Northern and Southern Kingdoms of ancient Israel. The Western Church is declining for this reason. I felt a strong need to teach what evangelism should be according to the Bible, and teach practical aspects of evangelism to Christians, in order to reverse the declining trend of the Western Church. This is the second reason I founded COTARI.
I believe that the Lord has been with us at COTARI from the beginning, and that He will continue to be with us and guide us to achieve His Kingdom purposes. May all our striving add favorably to His glory! Amen.
by Frank Hwang Choe, President and Founder, COTARI
extracted from our first newsletter