By Shawn McMullen
I’ve attended the International Conference on Missions (ICOM, formerly the National Missionary Convention) for many years. And I’d like to encourage you to attend this year, November 14-17 in Kansas City, Missouri. Like the North American Christian Convention, ICOM is on my “must attend” list of annual Christian gatherings. Let me tell you why.
A Convention of Heroes
When it comes to spiritual heroes, I have a special place in my heart for those who have responded to God’s call to bring hope to the nations. Many have served for decades in resistant environments under harsh living conditions, having left homes and families and careers (see Matthew 19:27-30) for the sake of the gospel. ICOM gives me the opportunity to catch up on their work, to encourage them in their ministries, and to thank them personally for their sacrifice and service.
A Conference on Evangelism
ICOM ignites my passion for evangelism, affirming its centrality in the church and in my personal life. The theme of the Great Commission permeates the main sessions and workshops, reminding me again and again that we have been saved to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
A Reminder to Think and Act Globally
While it puts me in touch with those who serve Christ on other continents, ICOM also puts me in touch with North American churches and mission organizations that are finding new and innovative ways to reach the world’s lost with the gospel. It blesses me to know so many faithful followers of Christ are concerned about the nearly 7,000 unreached people groups around the globe.
A Lighthouse for the Lost
In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 the apostle Paul explains what will take place “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” He writes,
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.
It’s a sobering thought, to be sure. People around the world “who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (see also Romans 1:18-20) face a dark and hopeless eternity. Nothing could be worse than to be punished forever, completely cut off from the Lord’s presence and glory. That’s why Jesus sent his followers into the world to make disciples of all nations. The Father wants everyone to hear the gospel message and to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
At ICOM I’m surrounded by a sea of faithful disciples who are working tirelessly to dispel the world’s darkness with the light of Christ. They challenge me to do more for the sake of the gospel. They will do the same for you.