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Someone Has to Be First _ Steve Smith t4t

Someone Has to Be First _ Steve Smith t4t

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Published by: Jose Roberto Ramos on Mar 15, 2013
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USCWM • 1605 E. ElizabethSt. • Pasadena, CA 91104 • 626-797-1111
MarchApril 2011
Mission Frontiers
Steve Smith
Precedent and Promise
s a CPM trainer, I often get requests frommissionaries to send them CPM case studies. Teir preference is for a study that exactly matches their situation. I get requests like this:
Do you have an example o a CPM among educated, post-modernMiddle-Eastern Arabs living in Western Europe?
I check my files. Nope. No case study for such agroup. Teir response seems to say:
Well, that proves it! A CPM can’t happen in my people group!
 Teir logic makes no sense. Te absence of a casestudy only proves that we don’t yet have a CPMamong that people group!So, I send them a few case studies from China. o which they respond: “Don’t send me these. Of courseCPMs can occur there; that’s
 What they don’t realize is that CPM pioneers inChina in the late 1990s were told: “It takes an averageof four years to win a Chinese atheist to the Lord.”So, I send them a case study from India, of what isperhaps the longest-lived and largest CPM in the world, along with several other Indian case studies. Tey look at them and reply: “Don’t send me thesecase studies. Of course CPMs can happen there. Tat’s India. So many people speak English there!” Tey don’t know that the area where this large CPMemerged was historically called the “Graveyard of Missionaries” because of its unresponsiveness.So I send them case studies from several urbanCPMs. And they reply: “Don’t send these. Of courseCPMs can happen in cities. Tere’s so much anonym-ity there! You can get away with anything.” Tey don’t realize that just a few years ago, missionleaders were searching for ways to reach cities andlamenting the absence of CPMs in these spiritualdeserts! As I’m beginning to get frustrated, they say whatthey really want are good case studies for reachingMuslims. So I send them a case study of the largestMuslim-background CPM in the world. But theirresponse is: “Don’t give me this. Tat’s in South Asia.It’s easy there!” Tey don’t understand that national believers in thatmovement gather offerings to rebuild burned downhomes of persecuted Christians and assist Christian women who have been raped by their persecutors.Finally, I send them a confidential case study of a Muslim-background CPM in one of the mostrestricted countries in the Middle East. Te responseI finally get on this one is: “Impossible. Tey must belying!” (I’ve actually been told this several times.) At this point I can see that for some people noamount of case studies will convince them. Tere isa basic disconnect in their faith in the very nature of God and His heart to reach the nations.
Someone has to be frst
 Tere are indeed places where we have no CPMs  yet. Te number and diversity of places for which weDO have CPMs increases each year. Just a few yearsago, I could count 10-15 CPMs. Tis past year I feltpretty confident about 30-35. But interactions withother CPM trainers and mission leaders indicate thatthe number is much, much higher. What we know of is just a fraction of what God is doing.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which i theywere written in detail, I suppose that even the world itsel would notcontain the books that would be written. (John 21:25, NASB)
Steve Smith planted a church in Los Angeles and thenhelped initiate a church planting movement (CPM)among an unreached people group in East Asia. Te last ten years he has trained believers in CPM and currentlyoversees the work of the International Mission Board (SBC) in reaching Southeast Asian Peoples.o discuss this article with 4 practitioners and me, join us at the new interactive MF website, at  MissionFrontiers.org—Steve 
Someone Has to Be First
Mission Frontiers
MarchApril 2011
 You must live with an assumption that God isdoing more than you are aware of even when yourheart doubts. oday, we prepare new missionaries going to Asia toexpect
that CPMs will develop.
It’s not hard to createthis expectation because we have good examples of CPMs in this area. We have precedent.But there was a time when there were no CPMs inthose places.Tere was a time when there were no CPMs inChina:
someone had to be first.
Tere was a time when there were no CPMs inIndia:
someone had to be first.
  Tere was a time when there were no CPMs inSoutheast Asia:
someone had to be first.
 Tere may be no CPM where you live — yet. Some-one has to be first. Be that first one! In the beginning, when there is no
 precedent, someone 
has to be
Fortunately, in some places in the world, we
haveprecedent for CPMs. Tese precedents are a greatencouragement to believe that a CPM is possible andto provide a model for what it can look like. Tis isillustrated well in 2 Samuel.
15 Now when the Philistines were at war again with Israel, Davidwent down and his servants with him; and as they ought againstthe Philistines, David became weary. 16 Then Ishbi-benob, who wasamong the descendants o the giant, the weight o whose spear wasthree hundred shekels o bronze in weight, was girded with a newsword, and he intended to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son o Zeruiahhelped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him…. 18…aterthis that there was war again with the Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecaithe Hushathite struck down Saph, who was among the descendantso the giant.19 There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan theson o Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, theshat o whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.20 There was war at Gath again, where there was a man o greatstature who had six fngers on each hand and six toes on each oot,twenty-our in number; and he also had been born to the giant. 21When he defed Israel, Jonathan the son o Shimei, David’s brother,struck him down.22 These our were born to the giant in Gath, and they ell by the hando David and by the hand o his servants. (2 Sam. 21:15-22, NASB,emphasis added)
 Tis is a remarkable record: four giants killed by thehand of David’s followers. Imagine the situation withthe first one Ishbi-benob. Te text says he was a de-scendant of “the giant” – most likely Goliath. David isin battle against one of Goliath’s sons. Te giant haspayback in mind. He spots David in the battle andrushes toward him with a new sword, intending tokill David and avenge his father’s death.But David is not the one who slays him. Instead, Abishai, one of the army commanders does.Shortly thereafter, another descendant of Goliath,Saph, fights against the Philistines. David doesn’t slay him either. Sibbecai does.Later, a descendant of Goliath, bearing Goliath’sname, fights Israel. David doesn’t slay him either.Elhanan, son of Jaare-oregim does.Finally, the greatest of the descendants who remainsnameless fights against Israel. But David doesn’t slay him. His nephew Jonathan does. What’s happening here? How can four men in succes-sion slay vengeful giants when, less than a generationearlier, the entire nation of Israel cowered in fear?How did they learn to slay giants? Tey had precedent.David showed them how to slay giants; now they hada model and the faith to reproduce it. Tey knew how to beat giants! One after another, these men slew giantsthat only a generation before stopped an entire army. Tat’s the power of precedent. When you have prec-edent, you know how to find victory. Te precedentgives you a model and the courage to attempt thesame thing. What seems radical today will be commonplace to-morrow. Tere was a time when CPMs were unusual.Now it seems like everyone is talking about them. Tat’s the power of precedent.
But what do you do when you have no precedent? 
 Tere was a time in Israel when there was no prec-edent for killing giants. Less than a generation earlier,Israel was paralyzed at the very thought of approach-ing a giant in hand-to-hand combat. 1 Samuel 17describes Goliath as a giant of a man who stood overnine feet tall (v.4)!Saul stood head and shoulders above the men of Israel(1 Sam. 9:2), yet in his own strength he cowered infear. For weeks, the Israelites camping in the Val-ley of Elah followed Saul’s example, frozen with fear(1 Sam 17:10-11, 23-24). Each day Goliath tauntedthem. Each day they fled from the battle. Tey lived a
of fear and lack of faith. When David saw this scene unfold he was appalled.David believed the promise that God would overcome

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