"The purpose of the church is to bring God glory through the worldwide proclamation, reception and worship of His Son," says David Shibley. "That is our corporate purpose. It should be our individual purpose as well." With that premise as foundation, Shibley's The Missions Addiction (Charisma House, 2001) is a masterful analysis of the church and missions in today's global culture. The church should take note of Shibley's latest title because he speaks from experience. He has personally ministered in 51 nations and is founder and president of Global Advance, a ministry that provides training and resources for thousands of pastors in 50 nations.
"I am personally convinced," he writes, "that there were dramatic advances for the gospel worldwide in the 1990s and that those previous ten years were a mere prelude to what God will do in this decade." For example, he cites the fact that, at the end of the year 2000, the JESUS film had been seen by more than four billion people, with almost 129 million people registering decisions for Christ.
Other predictions are more sobering: increased conflict for the church, more militant religions (especially Islam), and a more exacting standard for Christian leadership.
He sees American isolationism as a critical concern for spreading the Gospel. "The possible merits of protectionism juxtaposed against globalization may be argued in politics," he acknowledges, "but a protectionist mentality in the church is always suicidal. There are no merits to 'spiritual protectionism'; it is always lethal. The most patriotic thing I can do for America is love the world."
Again and again he challenges, both by offering hope and encouragement, and by articulating obstacles to overcome. He says teens in missions are at once a cause for great hope and great concern. More American teenagers went on missions trips last summer than ever before, but Shibley says, "[W]hile Gen-Xers and millennials are spiritually hungry, they are also often biblically illiterate and tend to value relevancy over truth."
Shibley's passion for missions is contagious, his heart for missionaries transparent. He narrates countless stories of martyrs and others who have sacrificed all to follow Christ to the mission field -- often in the missionaries' own moving words. For example, he shares the story of a couple who stayed in Afghanistan when all other foreigners were evacuated: "The evacuation convoy came and left without us. Our neighbors were puzzled. Later we heard them call us no longer 'the foreigners,' but 'the people who stayed.' "During our first Christmas, ...over 50 women and their children all squeezed into our home, a little living room, to hear the advent story. Some wept... Others ran to their husbands and told them to go to the house of 'the people who stayed' and hear the Good News."
Recurring themes include the need for unity in the Body, and the necessity of adherence to Scripture. The Missions Addiction is a valuable reference book, meticulously documented with hundreds of notes and index entries; it is a history, citing the thoughts of centuries of missions greats; and it is a call to action, challenging believers to tell the Good News.