Craig von Buseck: You are celebrating the tenth anniversary of ministry with His 1040. What is it that God has called you to do through this ministry?
Paul Ignacio: The Lord has given us a God-size vision, and it is really with the end in mind. We want to be instrumental in whatever capacity God gives us to do our share for the closure of the Great Commission and the coming of our Lord. God has us doing ministry where it is of great need -- the most unreached people groups. But not just the unreached, but the unengaged. This has come to our knowledge by use of the most recent data that researchers have done. Among the Muslims alone, there are 218 unengaged, unreached people groups.
CVB: Can you define "unengaged" for someone who is not familiar with that term?
Ignacio: Well, let me start with the term "unreached."
Ignacio: In layman's terms, anyone who does not know Christ, who is a lost person, is unreached. However, the missiologist have come up with this definition by coming up with a people group with a population of one hundred thousand and above whose evangelical population has not reached 2 percent…
CVB: So Japan would be unreached…
Ignacio: Definitely so. By the time they get to two percent they drop off this list. It does not mean the job was done. It only means that now there is a cohesive group to perpetrate the reaching of the people group.
Now, there are approximately 6900 unreached people groups in the world today with a population of at least 100,000 -- some of these groups have millions of people. There are an estimated 639 Unadopted Unreached People Groups. And we know of 216 Unengaged Unreached Muslim People Groups.
So there is a great task ahead of us.
The unengaged people groups are those for whom nothing is being done. This may because of isolation, religious indifference, or other factors. There is no known witness, no church planting endeavor, no Bible in their particular language, whether written or spoken, and no evangelistic film.
But in the international missionary community today, God is bringing people together -- across denominations and across mission agencies -- with various giftings and strengths and specialties to address these issues so that there will be strategic employment of workers.
CVB: And that is what His 1040 is right in the middle of…
Ignacio: That's who we are. That's why I'm out of the country every month for at least two weeks. What God has placed in my heart is to come along side nationals. The picture of a missionary today has changed. It's no longer the average westerner putting on a "bush jacket" and a hat. Now it has changed and you have African missionaries, Indian missionaries, Indonesian missionaries, Hispanic missionaries, Arab missionaries, Chinese missionaries -- it's incredible.
God is rallying His people to get the job done.
CVB: How does His 1040 help to synergize missions? That's really what your strength is.
Ignacio: When we got started ten years ago, we were in a small group of people focusing on championing the cause of an indigenous labor force. But that group is growing now. So the role I played was to search out leaders of church planting networks. We believe that God has always been at work bringing people to Himself. We were looking for these people who had their act together, but they just needed help. So we searched them out and networked with other missions agencies to find leaders of national church planting work.
These are the unknown, unsung heroes. They are doing their share, but they are just limited because of the insufficiency of resources. So the first thing on the list for me to do is search them out and strive to develop a trusting relationship. It takes one or two visits and then they see the sincerity of our intention. Then as we consult with each other, we are able to identify what we can do together and raise the level of efficiency.
It's very effective because they don't have to go through the cultural adjustment -- about liking the food, or not (laughs). And the edge is this; these people make a stand for Jesus and pay an enormous cost. They encounter resistance and persecution. If they are severely persecuted, they just change their address. Whereas, if you send a foreign missionary, after going through all those things, adjusting, acquiring language and culture, and all of that, they are very cautious because they fear expulsion. It's a valid concern, especially with the lives of your family members.
We are very sensitive, and really appreciate those who come and transplant their family to a different culture.
We come alongside the nationals and enrich them -- and this is where I have a little edge, because I blend in well. When I'm in China, people think I'm Chinese -- or Indonesia, or India -- in India they thought I was northeast Indian.
CVB: What are some of the specific countries on your heart to target?
Ignacio: We started in the billionaire countries: India and China. India has a very special place in my heart because I had spent two years in India in the early seventies. So I know a lot of people there and God has really knit India to my heart. And after praying for more than 28 years, I finally placed my feet in China -- and brought with me an extra suitcase of study Bibles. So we started with those two countries.
Then I also tried Japan, which is a free country that gives missionary visas. But Japan is a very closed country in many ways and the advance of the Gospel there is very slow. We need to really be in prayer for them. I think with the recent tragedies in Japan, God has really gotten their attention. So those are the first three countries that I visited.
Then I started targeting the Arab world. I reunited with a dear friend who was only 18-years-old when we met on a missionary ship. Now he has risen to the ranks of leadership in the Arab world and I cannot say his name. We reunited in Jordan, then he moved to Egypt. He is in charge of the North African region of missions among Arab nations. He has opened a lot of doors for me.
My early exposure to missions was because of my involvement with a ministry called Operation Mobilization. I was on their ship and we moved around those regions that are now called the 1040 Window. So God gave me an experience within these countries and the gateway cities of the world.
CVB: What do you mean when you call them the "gateway cities of the world?"
Ignacio: The gateway cities of the world are the key cities of major countries with great populations of unreached peoples. These are normally port cities. The advantage that I had in previous years was that I was with a ship ministry and we went to cities with ports, then we went inland in some places. Now I have contacts and partners in most of these countries. God has called and prepared me for this.
CVB: Your ministry has seen some dramatic miracles. Could you tell me about one of them?
Ignacio: There is a lady from Nepal named Kamla who crossed the border into India. She came to know the Lord because of a miracle in the life of her child. She works in the street, carrying pieces of rocks over her head. One night she was awakened from sleep by people crying and weeping and she found out that her landlord lost her baby. Because of what God had done in the life of her own child, she was very bold for making a stand and witness for the power of God. So she told her landlord, "My Jesus can. My Jesus will bring your baby back to life." She kept repeating that.
Her landlord said, "Why are you doing this? Can't you see we're hurting enough? You're a nobody." She said this because the woman was in the lowest caste of all.
The woman replied, "Yes, I'm a nobody. But my Jesus can and my Jesus will."
The landlords came to their senses. Their baby was dead, so what do they have to lose? So they said to her, "O.K., here's our baby. Do what your Jesus can do."
So she took the baby, put her in her bed, laid on top of her and begged God for her life. And God honored her prayer. She came back with the child and the parents dropped to their knees and said, "Tells us about Jesus." That stirred up the entire community and many people came to Christ because of the witness of this very bold new believer who knows nothing about what we are so concerned about in witnessing.
We have a contact in the Kashmir region, which is a hot spot. In one of our first gatherings with pastors involved in church planting in Kashmir, on the western side of the Himalayas, I felt a burden in my heart to bring them together for a time of encouragement and equipping. So that was our first meeting of gathering His faithful ones. This woman was one of those faithful servants that her pastor brought to this meeting. I heard her story from the pastor.
I got a chance to interview her and she is a very quiet person, unlearned, no sophistication. But she has learned how to tap the power of God.
I have found that this indigenous workforce lacks sophistication, basic training, but all they have is God -- and they have found Him sufficient. That's the secret!
They often don't know much theology, which is our concern -- we don't want them to fall into any heresy. That's why we bring solid Bible teaching. And they love it. They devour the Bible.
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