I thought I had my life all planned. God had broken my heart for a specific group of people, so when I entered Bethany Bible College in New Brunswick, Canada, as a freshman, I truly believed I was preparing myself to go and share Christ among the Latino people.
During my time overseas with Latinos, I fell in love with their culture, their language, their food and, of course, the people. I did not specifically care where God would send me; I just knew I loved Latinos, so surely God would prepare me to serve them. But as I continued studying at Bethany, I began learning about other people in the world who have never heard of Christ.
God quickly asked me, “Carly, are you willing to go anywhere for me?” I irrationally responded, “of course God, I will go anywhere for you.” But as I thought more about it, I realized I had no desire to serve among Muslims, or Hindus, or Buddhists who speak a different language and are far removed from Latino culture.
I thought, “I like warm weather and I love Latinos…certainly God would send me somewhere warm overflowing with Latinos.” After a few months of struggling with God’s question, I recognized the pride and selfishness that was within me. If I was honest with myself, I knew that I was really telling God, “I will go anywhere as long as you send me to Latinos.” I repented of my self-centered attitude, and surrendered the dream He had given me of giving my life to serve the Latin American people.
After I surrendered my dream, I soon found myself encircled by information regarding the unreached peoples of the world. I began reading about specific people groups, hearing about their precise needs, and began praying that God would send workers to each of these places. God’s desire that all people would know Him became my prayer:
“May all the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.”
I realized that ‘all peoples’ include the two billion people who have not heard the true Gospel of Christ. Several of these unreached peoples have never actually seen Christ in the flesh because there are absolutely no disciples of Christ that live among them.
At this time, I began to understand the responsibility of my generation, to go and tell these people about Christ. If my generation does not engage in this biblical mandate, another entire generation of unreached people could be lost.
As God broke my heart and challenged me to take responsibility for these lost people, I began to share this passion with other Bethany students and staff. I was told by a few missional leaders about the Student Volunteer Movement 2 (SVM2), which was devoted to challenging my generation to go to the unreached for at least two years.
I learned specifically about the Abandoned Devotion Gathering model, a gathering with the “purpose of seeking God through extended worship, uncompromising challenges, and radical prayer to see the message of Jesus spread globally in our lifetime.” I began to pray about hosting an Abandoned Devotion Gathering at Bethany Bible College, and shared this desire with others at my school. I then felt affirmed by both God and my peers that I was to host this event in November of 2007.
After numerous hours of preparation and prayer for the gathering, the night finally arrived. Following the event, I emailed all of the people who had been praying for the evening:
“Praise God! He truly blessed Saturday’s night Abandoned Devotion Gathering… the whole service! The 5 1/2 hours seemed to fly by. I truly wish you could have been here with us. During the evening, God called at least 15 students to commit their lives to go reach the forgotten people for at least two years. Many others came forward and laid hands on these 15 as a response to sacrifice their lives here in North America, to further the Kingdom of God overseas. God did so much in so many lives I feel I cannot fully explain in words. Students were set free of strongholds, repented of their sins, and surrendered their lives to go wherever He calls them. During the prayer time for the unreached, He broke our hearts for those who have never heard about Him. Students were on their knees interceding on their behalf.”
During Christmas break, after this incredible evening, I began asking God, “When would you have me host another Abandoned Devotion Gathering?” As I was on my knees praying for guidance and wisdom, God urged me to think bigger, and gave me the idea of hosting the gathering not just at Bethany, but on all five Wesleyan campuses in North America.
After Christmas break, I was able to share my vision with the President of Bethany, and one of the mobilizers of Global Partners, the mission agency of the Wesleyan Church. It was through their assistance and the support of many others, that the Wesleyan universities joined together this spring to host the Abandoned Devotion Gathering on each campus.
During the gatherings, 785 students joined together on different campuses to intercede for the lost around the world, and 190 students made commitments to go to the unreached for at least two years! Other students made a commitment to make sacrifices here in North America so the Gospel could be taken to the ends of the earth.
Several students were able to confess their fear of making a two-year commitment, and their apprehension of leaving North America, their family, and friends. Some students had known that they were called overseas, but it was just really difficult for them to actually make a commitment. Other students talked about the comfort they enjoy here in North America, and were reminded during this evening that God does not call His followers to be comfortable, but to daily take up their cross and follow Him.
After praying for the unreached, one student responded, “Why wouldn’t I go to these people who have never heard of Christ?”
Four years ago when I arrived at Bethany, I had no indication that God would call me to the unreached. I definitely had no idea that God would use me to encourage hundreds of students to commit to the unreached for at least two years. Nor did I have a notion that he would use me to challenge my peers to make sacrifices here in North America, so others could go share the truth of Christ with those who are least surrounded by true followers of Christ.
I would like to challenge you to commit yourself to praying for specific unreached people groups. I trust that as you pray for these precious people, God’s desire that these people would know Him will flow out of you in conversation with your peers. Maybe God would like to use you to begin a Global Prayer Team on your campus for an unreached people group, or maybe He is urging you to join others on your campus to host an Abandoned Devotion Gathering.
On behalf of the two billion people who have yet to hear the true Gospel of Christ, get on your knees and ask God, “How would you like to use me to share your heart’s desire for all people to know you?” Maybe He too will ask you to think bigger, to dream beyond whatever you thought possible as you join me and hundreds of others who cry together,
“May all the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you!”