Dick Brogden lives a sold out life by the principles in his ‘Live Dead’ book
August 1, 2014 | Tammy Bicket
Dick Brogden is going places. You might think it’s because of his increasing acclaim as a speaker and author (he will speak during the Grand Finale of the AG Centennial Celebration in Springfield, Missouri on August 10, and he’s the author/editor of a best-selling e-book, The Live Dead Journal). You’d be wrong.
Dick Brogden is going places because it’s what Jesus has called him to do. He’s going places to show Christ’s love to people who not only do not know his name but have never heard the name of Jesus glorified either. “Apostolos in the Greek is ‘sent ones,’” Brogden explains. “The context always involves being sent to places where there is no church, where there are no Christians and where there is no witness. Biblical missions is to be commissioned to go to represent Jesus where he is not glorified, where he is not known.”
Given those parameters, it’s not hard to find a suitable place to go. More than 40 percent of the world doesn’t have access to the gospel. Of the world’s 16,448 people groups, more than 7,000 are unreached—not a single church, Christian or Christian witness is known to exist; 3,300 of these groups are Muslim, representing 1.26 billion individuals. More than 80 percent of Muslims have never known a single Christian. “We believe the great opportunity of our age is to engage the world of Islam with our magnificent, divine Jesus,” Brogden writes.
Unreached for a reason
Unfortunately, unreached people groups are unreached for a reason. “The easy ones have been reached,” Brogden says. “The places today where the church does not exist are harsh, fierce, lonely and demanding; yet we must still go there.”
“The goal of missions is global worship of Jesus by his redeemed people from every tribe, tongue and nation.” Brogden explains while quoting Desiring God’s David Mathis. “If unreached people in lands that are oppressive, Islamic, fiercely resistant and torn by war are going to glorify God, someone is going to have to rise up and live dead.”
This is the heart of Live Dead: planting churches among unreached peoples through teams.
“Live Dead is a way to brand what we have been doing for 15 years in Sudan—and what many others have done before us,” Brogden says.
His doctoral thesis and research at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) have been intricately connected with the Live Dead concept and initiative as well as The Live Dead Journal.
Reaching out in faith
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me, you can do nothing.” — John 15:5 [NKJV]
“We are to die to self and live through Christ with a focus on abiding in Jesus for the purpose of reaching unreached peoples,” Brogden says. “Living dead starts with extravagant abiding with Jesus. From there we get his passion for the world, his strength, his vision of the world and our marching orders.”
Brogden continues: “In my ongoing desire to learn to abide in Jesus and live from that place of rest and strength among unreached peoples, AGTS was invaluable to my personal missiological breakthrough. The whole Ph.D. process has contributed to the journey: incredible classes, erudite professors, challenging reading, experienced colleagues, all in the atmosphere of the Spirit—knowledge on fire. It has directly impacted my daily living and mission and has truly been worship. There have been many times when reading, writing or interviewing when I have stopped, cried, worshiped and thanked the Lord. From this doctoral journey—facilitated by AGTS—much fruit has already come, impacting things like the Live Dead Journal, Live Dead growth and disciple making, team raising and church planting.”
The Live Dead Journal, developed in tandem with Dick’s AGTS doctoral research, is a journal and prayer guide designed to lead Christians in 30 days of personal challenge and prayer for unreached people. Each chapter is written by a missionary or missions-hearted person committed to live dead—to die to self and live for Christ regardless of the cost. Each day’s journal includes information on one unreached people group; reflection on what it means to live dead; and space to respond, answer questions and write a prayer. Each day also presents a challenge—a practical way people can live dead.
The book’s launch as an e-book in October 2013 created quite a stir. Released initially as a free e-book, the journal rose as high as the number two spot in the Religion and Spirituality category in Apple’s iBooks, while it ranked as high as sixth in paid downloads in the Christian category on Kindle. But its real success will be measured in the lives it changes and the people God moves to live dead.
“Live Dead has the general application of dying to self—which is for all Christians—and the specific application of doing so in difficult contexts: dangerous places where people are resistant to the gospel,” Brogden says.
Fueled by worship
Just how can we do this when the task seems so large? Recognize that it is large but that the God we serve is large enough for the task.
“Missions is brought about and fueled by the worship of Jesus” Brogden says. Again quotes Mathis, he says: “Do you really think you can change the world in your own strength? Do you really think that your thinness, your unholy tendencies, your flesh can bring hope? We only export our weaknesses unless we are dead to them, unless we are alive to Christ, unless we live dead.”
Another key to completing the task is teamwork. Live Dead seeks to assemble multinational, multigenerational teams with unique strengths and gifts. Brogden emphasizes that we cannot have the hubris to think that the task of reaching the world can be accomplished in the American way alone.
“The gifts of God are spread among all his people,” Brogden says. “We bring different strengths to the table. And only as we mutually submit to one another in the context of mission will we have the power and gravitas and attraction and winsomeness to bring all these disparate people into the body of Christ.”
This concept of team extends beyond the makeup of the team on the field to include people who have been called to radical obedience for the glory of Christ right where they are.
“When is the last time you lost anything because you follow Christ,” Brogden asks. “Do you understand that the God of the nations expects you to participate? Jesus wants his church not only to pray, not only to give, not only to send, not only to turn the other cheek but to lay down our lives for precious unreached people. He wants us to take our turn in a long line of others who have laid down their life that others might find Christ…to follow him to the cross, to sacrificial death.”
Brogden and his Live Dead teams have undertaken a mission to sacrifice for the sake of the Muslim world.
“We consider the Arab world to be the heart of Islam,” Brogden says. “As Jesus is enthroned in the Arab world, we will be that much closer to every tribe, tongue and people in worship; that much closer to Jesus’ coming back to take us all home. Whatever that costs us, Jesus is worth it.”
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