ENGAGING THE WORLD (Mar 8, 2016)

Erica GraceErica Grace, author and ex-missionary to South America, cuts to the chase!

A couple came to see my husband Chris and me to discuss a ‘disturbing’ trend in their church.

They said they were extremely worried their pastor had the wrong priorities: He was constantly raising money for missions and making donations to missions’ projects and such.

We kept waiting for the ‘problem’ to appear but the more they spoke the wider we smiled. Why? Well, to us it sounded that this couple’s church was a great one – so what was the problem?

Finally they said: ‘But what about us? We could be doing so much with all that money if we didn’t give so much away.’ In other words, their real ‘problem’ was that they didn’t understand their church – that ‘us’ thing – should be involved in missions’ activities!

Erica - Moaners
Our response to this whining couple made them sorry that they ever came to us with this ‘problem.’ Let me get to the real ‘problem’ and challenge all readers as we did them …

What about you?
You’ve heard the salvation message more than once, haven’t you? Do you know that millions haven’t even heard it once?

What about you? You ‘get’ to go church freely; you ‘get’ to worship God as loud as you want without restrictions. Do you know millions of believers can’t sing out loud for fear of their lives?

No, the ‘problem’ wasn’t this couple’s pastor; the problem was that they didn’t understand the role of their church – of every church for that matter!

‘Missions’ is not just a department of the church but the very reason the church exists!

Let’s take time to review what our real ‘Mission’ is!
Paul, writing to the Romans, gives us such a clear outline of what our role is. He explained it in a very logical way which makes it easy to follow.

In Romans 10: 13-15 (emphasis mine), Paul shows us the simplicity of the gospel – ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

How simple is that! God has no favourites. He doesn’t make outrageous demands for us to meet before we can be saved. Everyone can be saved: young or old, male or female, rich or poor, black or white, educated or illiterate… everyone!

Next Paul asks four logical questions:
1. ‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?’
How can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust?

Belief requires knowledge of the person in whom one can trust. And one must believe before being able to call on him for salvation.

2. ‘And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?’
How can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the one who can be trusted?

A young missionary in a foreign land was trying to witness about Jesus. He went door knocking and asked: ‘Have you heard of Jesus?’ The man thought for a while and said, ‘I’m certain there’s no one in this village by that name. Try the next town!’

3. ‘And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’
The original word for ‘preacher’ here is kerysso which means ‘herald.’

The role of the herald was vital in Bible times because it was the major means of transmitting news. It was a public proclamation in the city square or the marketplace where people gathered to hear much anticipated news. He took the place of our modern day TV, newspapers, or even radio.

4. ‘And how can they preach unless they are sent?’
How is anyone going to tell them unless someone is sent to do it?

A ‘missionary’ is one that is ‘sent.’ We’re all called to be ‘witnesses’ but not all called to be sent. It implies here the need to cross a cultural divide and ethnic boundaries.

God is a God who ‘sends’

  • First he sent his Son with the purpose of redeeming us to himself.
  • Then he sent his Spirit to empower us.
  • Now he is sending out his church with the good news. He is counting on us to share his mission with the whole world!

We are called and sent by God – but also by the church. The church sends out those whom Christ has chosen to send. That should be always evident to any congregation – it is important because the church supports missionaries financially, spiritually, and physically. Chris and I often thank God for the many wonderful churches that did that for us.

But…get it right!
No, missionaries don’t just need money. It may surprise you but that is not what missionaries need most. What is most needed is prayer!

Money cannot buy anointed preaching, or protection on roads or in violent places, or against diseases. Money cannot buy miracles or open strategic doors into closed communities or tribes.

The big ‘unless.‘  Unless …

  • Some people are commissioned for the task, there will be no gospel preachers.
  • The gospel is preached, sinners will not hear Christ’s message of salvation.
  • Sinners hear of him, they will not believe the truths of his death and resurrection.
  • They believe these truths, they will not call on him; and
  • They call on his name, they will not be saved.

Simple logic – Missions is not complicated!
The most fulfilling part of being a missionary has been the gratefulness of the hearers
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Rom. 10:15b). Or, as the Message Bible puts it: ‘A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!’

We’ve often heard the phrase: ‘If only I had heard this good news a long time ago…’. It’s truly humbling and but also bitter sweet. ‘Missions’ is not the hobby of a few fanatics.

Somebody came to tell you. How many times have you heard the gospel? Now think of the millions who haven’t heard it even once, even in Australia, let alone the world! We celebrate Easter this month – what a great opportunity to share John 3:16 – the real heart of Easter!

Erica Missions

Erica Grace is author of Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching series suitable for the whole congregation. Warmly welcomed itinerant ministers, the Graces are also on the ACC Multinational Pastors Team, Victoria. Links: sevengraces@bigpond.com / (041) 270 2945

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