Friday, November 13, 2015

What is your role in world missions?

You wonder, then, if there are specific men that the Lord God has graced, equipped and placed in the local churches, from where they are specifically sent out to be the heralds of the gospel, what is my role as ‘an ordinary Christian’ in the evangelization of the peoples? This is a very important question that should be so highly regarded for in it lies the hope of those unreached peoples to hear of the wonders of the grace of God in Christ, our Saviour. We do not need the so called 'radical Christians' - we need faithful believers. Those who take the Commission of Christ serious enough to move with the gospel, in His power and presence. When the Lord gave the Commission, there was no requirement to be radical, but to just to be  a faithful follower, a disciple.

To be a missional Christian, you ought to live a life of faith. Be fully engaged in the life of your church – devote yourself to those means of grace that the Lord has ordained.  The early church had men and women who devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Act 2:42-47.

You can only be missional if you are a faithful Christian in your local church. This understanding is most important at this time when everyone is being told to be a missionary. You don’t all have to go to the mission-field – there are those who have to go and will go because God has put it upon their hearts to go, and He has provided the means of sending them through His church. But the sending church has to remain functioning as a church! This means that there are those who will be left to be part of the sending church, who are crucial in the support of the work. We must resist the pressure from para-church organizations that put undue pressure on us all to abandon our churches to go on missions. Please remember that missions are not an end in itself – the purpose of missions is to plant churches. But churches are only to be planted by other churches - if they will be properly constituted churches.
Missions gather peoples, nations, tribes and languages into local churches, which exist to offer worship to God. In the words of John Piper, missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship exists in the local churches, because they gather, just as heavenly worship is of a gathered assembly. Therefore, faithfully gather with other people who have known God’s saving power and worship God – you were saved to glorify God. The church is the institution designed by God through which His manifold wisdom is displayed in the universe. And in all eternity, God will be magnified by His people whom He has graciously saved. What does this mean for you?

1.       Devote yourself to the Word of God – Be there to hear the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Listen to the Word preached and unite it with faith and then it will benefit you greatly. You realize that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart – it will powerfully work in you. Spiritual growth will occur where there is a healthy, consistent spiritual diet of the Word of God, which is the Bread of Life (1 Peter 2:2). The spiritual growth will enable you to be discerning - knowing the will of God, and the people that He has appointed for His work, even as you also serve. When you value the Word of God  by devoting yourself to it, even unbelieving relatives and friends could be forced see that it is such an important thing for you, and want to come to find out for themselves what is this that is so important to you. When they come, hopefully, they will be converted. You will be greater use to those in the mission field if you are more knowledgeable. It could be that through your knowledge of the Scriptures, you can be a better qualified support staff in the field, if the church deems it wise to send you as such.

2.       Devote yourself to fellowship – Christian fellowship is another means of building and edifying the saints. Iron sharpens iron, so saints sharpen each other, as they pray for one another, love, care and even admonish each other. There are those who by their fellowship have been led to believe that the Lord is sending them on missions. When such a person goes from this warm fellowship, he will be assured of a strong fellowship by which he can depend for prayers and support. It is where the fellowship bonds are close, and loving that missionaries are produced. This is both edifying and inspires confidence. It is where there is brotherly harmony and unity that the Lord commands a blessing. Where there is such a fellowship, brethren will be encouraged to share their resources for we have read, And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.

3.       Devote yourself to prayer – There is no question that this church was a praying church. They well understood that as a matter of priority the Lord desires and urges that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions for this is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. God desires then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling. There is no doubt that God honours His word and blesses it's obedience. He listens to the prayers of His people whose desire for the salvation of sinners is the same as His own. Such prayers which are in accordance to the will of God are answered by God. The great apostle and missionary Paul, confessed, “You also must help us by prayer,  so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted to us through the prayers of many (2 Cor.1:11). This means that you attend your church’s prayer meetings and pray earnestly both for the ministers and the sinners to be saved. Besides, you may form a special group to pray for missionaries. There is a lovely example of what was called, “the Haystack Meeting” that established a society called, “the Brethren” led by Samuel J. Mills and through which Adoniram Judson et al. were sent out from America to Burma by an association of churches.

4.       Give generously for the cause of the gospel – When we realize how much the Western Christians have invested for our evangelization, then we would be less attached to our money. A number of good Christians men who are consumed by the zeal to see sinners brought to Christ have said, “If you can’t go, then send someone.” To send someone means you work hard, in your job and give generously for the support of those men who have been sent out. It is not for nothing that you have so much salary, or resources. It is not for nothing that the Lord has given you the business acumen you have. The reason why you are doctor, the architect, engineer or lawyer is so that through these resources His cause may be furthered. But too many of you think that it is so that you may change from living in a one-bedroomed to a three bedroom, from Kibera to Kileleshwa, from a Toyota Corolla to Aston Martin. The reason that you have more is so that you can give more for the eternal cause of Christ – the giver. This should be done within the context of your church, lest you be defrauded and make the cause of the gospel to the unreached suffer. Paul devotes the book of Philippians to express his gratitude for their gifts – “… no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again… having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Phil. 15-18)

5.       Prioritize being a means of encouraging those who have gone out – Sometimes being in the mission field is very tempting and discouragements abound there. A call or a letter or an email from the brethren who hold the rope from outside the pit can be a means for lifting up the spirits of the downcast. Even Apostle Paul himself confessed, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” and again “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need… yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” (Phil. 4:12,14). Finally remember the missionaries are treasures in jars of clay, appointed by God to show the surpassing power that belongs to God so that you will be close to provide the encouragement that is necessary to be effective and useful in the mission-field. At TBC we have requested members to identify some of our church-plants and seek to gather as much information, maintain contact with these men and seek to encourage this work by enlisting the prayers of others. Plan to Visit these communities – There is no doubt that there are those who go to live among these unreached or least reached communities but there is a need for those who support to visit and see what actually happens there. You will be able to pray, give and encourage better if you can plan to visit and see for yourself. Do not be content to just read the reports from the missionaries or from those who visit, although we should provide such reports, yet everyone should consider going to see the opportunities and needs that exist. Take supportive responsibilities – You all have been endowed with many skills that can be absolutely necessary in the mission field. Use them to help those who go to be more effective in the gospel. Consider what you can do, and ask those in the mission field how these skills can be invested to farther the gospel cause. Why should the church buy an architectural plan when there are architects in the church? Or employ construction engineers when there are those in the church who can do it? Surely such who have such skills should employ their abilities, skills and strengths (even weakness) to make the gospel speed ahead. Some of you can make excellent translators – if you were trained. Consider all the supportive responsibilities that you can do, you can be a Sunday school teacher, a nurse, a mechanic, etc. so that the one who has been sent to be the mouthpiece of God is not distracted. The company of such men like Timothy, personal assistant and the Apostolic emissary; Dr. Luke the physician and chronicler, and Silas who was sent now and again, was so important for the success of Paul’s ministry. It is out of this desire to encourage missionary workers that Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) was formed to provide cheap air services.

Churches should send mature and tested Christians to the missions  fields. As the church continues in its ministry of equipping the saints for the work of ministry, people are not only trained to godliness (holy men are needed for missions) and are equipped as their gifts and abilities are identified in their churches. We must not think that only zeal is needed to go on missions - you need to be first of all qualified men (if you are not qualified to serve as a pastor of your current church, then you are not qualified to serve as a missionary!). There is no Biblical example of a woman sent out to be a missionary, because primarily the aim of missions is church-planting and women are not qualified, nor suited to be spiritual leaders of a church of Christ (see 1 Corinthians; 1 Timothy 2:11-14). The qualifications for elders are masculine (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)

Each one should faithfully play his Christian duty, pray, support and give such resources and encouragement that are useful for the effectiveness of the one in the mission field. The faithfulness of both the missionary and the sending church is what flourishes the gospel cause.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this insightful piece Pastor Murungi, I could see the different roles all Christians within a local church can play to support missions. Indeed, 'only faithful Christians can be missional Christians.' God bless you.