Kerry A. Olson

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” – Mark 16:15

Resounding Words: Something About Motion!

“Go implies a change of location!” Those were words I heard from Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, many years ago at my Discipleship Training School in Kona, Hawaii.

Having been involved in short-term and long-term missions since I was fifteen years old, I have repeated Loren’s quote many times in connection with Jesus’ command (the Great Commission) found throughout the entire New Testament and the whole Bible, for that matter. There’s something about being in motion and not being static or stagnant.

Go in Spanish – A Command to be Obeyed!

In Spanish, the word used for GO (into all the world and preach the Gospel) is the word ID. When I first came across id in my Spanish Bible, I did not completely understand its meaning, since in English we use only one form of the verb to go.

What I did not know at that point is that in Spanish the meaning is actually easier to understand!

I had to ask a native Spanish speaker to help me comprehend the full meaning of this powerful little two-letter word, id. I was enlightened by learning that when using the verb form id instead of ir, one uses the word GO in its most emphatic form (the present imperative).

As I discovered, GO was not an option, it was a command! Simply put, the Great Commission of Jesus to go is much clearer in Spanish! It’s an order! It’s a command, a mandate! As the great missionary statesman, Hudson Taylor, said two centuries ago, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it’s a command to be obeyed!”

Loren Cunningham’s Interpretation

Loren Cunningham expressed it so simply and yet profoundly: “Go implies a change of location!” Sad to say, the majority of Christians sitting in church respond to the Great Commission by saying, “Lord, if you want me to go the ends of the earth to serve you, give me thirty-seven confirmations, a direct word from the archangel Gabriel, and a blank check from the leadership of the congregation. Then I’ll go.” The truth of the matter is that Christians don’t go because many have never said, with the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” Many have created their own version: “Here am I, Lord. Send my sister or my brother!”

Keith Green’s Testimony

The late Keith Green (my all-time favorite singer/songwriter) and his wife, Melody, were impacted by a short-term missions trip to Europe prior to his death in 1982. Upon experiencing the mission field first hand, seeing the lack of missionaries and the need to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, Keith began to write numerous missions songs that served to mobilize many American young people to the nations. Nobody knew that his own life would soon come to an end at the age of twenty-eight.

Asleep in the Night!

Although Keith Green’s lyrics are now well over twenty years old, the message is just as applicable today. The song that most impacted me is “Asleep in the Light.” Read the words to the song and sense his passion for the lost.

Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don’t you care, don’t you care
Are you gonna let them drown 

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done 

Oh bless me Lord, bless me, Lord
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear 

But he cries, he weeps, he bleeds
And he cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in
Oh can’t you see it’s such a sin 

‘Cause he brings people to your door
And you turn them away
As you smile and say
God bless you, be at peace
And all heaven just weeps
’cause Jesus came to your door
You’ve left him out on the streets 

Open up, open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay 

God’s calling and you’re the one
But like Jonah you run
He’s told you to speak
But you keep holding it in
Oh can’t you see it’s such a sin 

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
’cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed 

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on get out of your bed 

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done 

Don’t close your eyes
Don’t pretend the job’s done
Come away, come away, come away with me my love
Come away, come away, come away with me my love

Don’t Pretend that the Job Is Done!

It’s true that many have their eyes closed today, pretending that the job is done. But the job is not done and will not be completed unless the Church (God’s people) begins to involve itself profoundly in the task it was given to complete, the Great Commission.

In Green’s last song, “Jesus Commands Us to Go,” he wrote, “Jesus commands us to go, but we go the other way, so He carries the burden alone, while His children are busy at play, feeling so called to stay….”

Waiting for an Audible Voice?!

Instead of waiting for an audible voice telling us to go, what would the Church and world be like if we understood that the Great Commission is not an option to be considered, but rather a command to be obeyed?

What would happen if Christians would launch out and say, “Lord, I am going to go. If it’s not your will that I go, stop me”?

We All Need to Embrace the Great Commission

Keith Green had to go to the other end of the spectrum precisely because the vast majority of people don’t think in those terms. I fully understand that the majority of Christians will not be heading off to the mission field to serve the Lord long term, but I also know that if we are going to complete the Great Commission, it requires that every Christian and true disciple of Christ needs to embrace the Great Commission and become a people in motion.

Let’s Untie the Ship: Begin to Move!

A ship that is tied up at the dock will never leave the port. It is only when the ship is untied and begins to move toward the open sea that it can arrive at its destination. A huge ship is guided by a relatively small apparatus, a rudder. The rudder in the life of a disciple of Jesus is the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit cannot guide us unless we begin to move! How many frustrated Christians are out there in their congregations complaining that God doesn’t use them and that they have no ministry? They are static and stagnant sitting in a pew, like a ship tied up at port, not going anywhere!

Begin to move. Begin to serve God where you are, and he will lead and guide you. Many times we think that the will of God is to the left, when it is to the right. When we begin to move, when we GO, the Holy Spirit can guide us and make the necessary correction to turn us from the left to the right. To the contrary, if we don’t begin to move, we’ll never arrive anywhere. Go implies a change of location!


This article is adapted from an article I wrote in Spanish, which can be accessed in this location:


Kerry A. Olson

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