You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Missions’ category.

This video is disturbing, but necessary. Parents, you should preview this video before allowing your children to see it, if you allow them to see it at all. Whatever decision you make, pray.

Yesterday [January 8] marked the 53rd anniversary of the deaths of Jim Eliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian and Pete Fleming, missionaries killed by the Waodani (or Huaorani) Indians on a sandbar in the jungle of Ecuador.

Eliot’s journals were filled with unique and inspiring words that demonstrated his clear and unswerving hope in the gospel, a hope that permeated his life and motivated to consider all things loss for the sake of knowing Jesus. Here are some of his most famous quotes:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

“Father, make me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”

“I may no longer depend on pleasant impulses to bring me before the Lord. I must rather respond to principles I know to be right, whether I feel them to be enjoyable or not. ”

     “Most laws condemn the soul and pronounce sentence. The result of the law of my God is perfect. It condemns but forgives. It restores – more than abundantly – what it takes away.”

“Wherever you are – be all there.”

“Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it – while these never heard of such a thing as writing.”
 

One of the obstacles within the resource-rich Western church to reaching the nations with the gospel is the adoption of a mission goal that is hyper-concerned with the conversion of as many “neighbors” as possible before turning our attention to the unreached peoples of the world. What this means is that Western churches may be hesitant to pursue ambitious international mission strategies because of sincere concern and awareness that there are many “neighbors” who don’t yet know Jesus Christ. This local sensitivity, while perhaps motivated by heartfelt compassion, is slightly out of step with the overall trajectory of the gospel for several reasons.

  1. The Scriptures never set the call to make disciples in “Jerusalem” and “the ends of the earth” in opposition. These are not “either/or” commands, but rather, “both/and”.
  2. “Salvation belongs to the Lord”. This means that our primary concern in missions should not necessarily be to see more and more people converted (though it isn’t unbiblical to earnestly desire to see God save as many people as possible through the Gospel). I say this because we shouldn’t concern ourselves with what we cannot control. Our primary concern should be to make the Gospel plain among our neighbors and the nations. Our goal should be to take the Gospel to all nations. The work of grace that leads to salvation depends upon the Holy Spirit, not upon how saturated a community is with the Gospel. The anals of church history will attest to the power of the Gospel going forth leading to salvation even in areas where there was very little Gospel presence. However, there must be a Gospel presence for this is the power of God for salvation.
  3. The biblical perspective on missions understands that the goal of Jesus’ Gospel is to bring make disciples from all nations, not necessarily to save as many people as possible from every nation. Someone might object, “But God doesn’t want any to perish.” Remember those words were penned to a particular audience in 2Peter. He was writing to believers. It is true that God doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked. The scope of the Gospel is universal in its sufficiency to save and all who call upon the name of the Lord in fatih will be saved. But no where in Scripture do we see that the aim of the Gospel is to save as many as possible in every nation, especially since it is clear in the Scriptures that not all will be saved. What is clear is that the aim of the Gospel is to save some from every tribe, tongue and nation for the sake of Jesus’ fame and renown in all the earth. This means that our awareness of the lostness of our neighbors should not prohibit us from taking the Gospel to the nations.

John Piper writes in his excellent book Let the Nations Be Glad that missions exist because worship doesn’t. The proclamation of the Gospel is mandated to all disciples of Jesus by the Son of God Himself because the aim of the gospel is to make disciples of people from every tribe, tongue and nation because God wants worshipers of peoples from all nations. This means that obedience to the Lord Jesus is simple. Make the Gospel plain among your neighbors and the nations. Think as strategically about taking the Gospel to an unreached people group in the world as you do about reaching your next door neighbor for Christ. Be faithful to speak of Christ and place your confidence in the Word and the Gospel to accomplish the work of salvation.

I believe that the church has a responsibility to not only be concerned about issues of social justice, but also has a responsibility to be involved in helping provide solutions to the brokenness of culture. You can’t hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah as he says, “…let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth” (7:24) and not come to the conclusion that God wants his people to be actively meeting the tangible needs of their neighbors and even enemies. God delights in those who manifest the qualities of the Spirit in their lives on the earth, so I don’t think one can make any kind of valid biblical argument that minimizes the role of the church regarding social issues in culture.

However, I must confess that I’ve rarely been pressed to articulate what this might look like in culture, or why churches should be involved in community ministry in the first place. If the truth be told about the Western church, most churches are little more than Christian ghettos filled with people who are basically the same and share the same beliefs and values. And while their may be concern over the cultural chaos breaking out around them, they are fairly content to live isolated, insulated lives away from the brokenness outside the church. They would be eager to embrace the repentant sinner into the ghetto, but they aren’t quite sure how to engage the sinner in a relevant way outside of the cozy confines of their isolationist tribe. Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle has posted an update from her adventures in Swaziland. She is definately facing some significant challenges and shifting emotions as she realizes that the problems facing the people of Swaziland are much larger than her limited time there will allow her and her team to address through the Gospel in their limited time there. It’s like trying to put a band-aid on a hemorrhaging artery. Read the rest of this entry »