The word “mayday” comes from the French venez m’aider, which is translated, “Come help me.” The distress signal—”mayday mayday mayday”—was established in the early 1920s and quickly became an internationally recognized plea for immediate help.
If we listen closely, we will hear “mayday mayday mayday” coming from more than 100 countries where we are yet to plant the Foursquare flag. But we will not reach those countries without the strategic partnership of our Foursquare family around the world.
Nigeria represents one of 21 nations within our Foursquare family that now send missionaries around the world. My first visit to Africa was to this nation, the most populous country in Africa with more than 150 million people. After traveling for 27 hours, I was excited to arrive at a place called Foursquare City, where 10,000 people were worshiping and celebrating together. During my time there, I experienced a strong sense of partnership with my Nigerian brothers and sisters—we were striving toward a common goal.
Our conversations with Nigerian leaders and others who are regularly sending missionaries were not about how the U.S. can help them, but how we can work together to accelerate the spreading of the gospel around the world. Our conversations assumed a more urgent quality as we observed that the birth pangs of the world seem to be getting closer together. Matthew 24:14 says, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come” (NLT).
With the U.S. now designated as the fourth largest mission field in the world, we have entered a new era in international missions. We are both sending and receiving missionaries; the reality of a truly global movement is upon us. We are moving from paternalism to partnership, which means that the U.S. Foursquare Church must begin to assume a peer role.
Many countries still view us as leaders of the global family, but it is imperative that we make room at the table for the growing influence and gifting of our international partners. Unless we successfully negotiate the change to this new paradigm, we stand to lose the synergy that comes from linking arms as equals in this kingdom enterprise.
Jesus understood the concept of empowering those whom He had discipled. They could not imagine carrying on His work—much less doing even greater things—but that was exactly what Jesus had in mind. In God’s economy, bringing believers to maturity always results in the multiplied expansion of the kingdom.
I invite you to join us in Columbus, Ohio, May 30-June 2, 2011. As we gather our U.S. and international family, our theme will be, “Accelerate–The Whole Gospel to The Whole World.” The distress signal has gone out—there’s not a minute to lose!
By Glenn Burris Jr., president of The U.S. Foursquare Church