We are confronted today by many forces within and outside the Church that influence our perception and practice. Secularism is marrying Christianity in the most unfashioned way, and slowly some terms that were traditionally used by Christians are losing meaning. Some words and phrases the early church held, are no longer the same. Words like “mission,” “missionary,” we use such words all the time. This marriage has also led to a rising number of young adults asking themselves whether we are actually supposed to affirm all that the apostles taught and did.
For Christian organizations such as ourselves who are uncompromisingly ardent evangelicals, we are faced with so many questions as to why we are still making the call for mission work. Let me in a brief attempt try to answer why as Global Link Afrika we are still passionately pursuing the Great Commission. We shall look at this from three angles:
We will start by defining what the first response to the Great Commission namely, going on the frontline mission work means
We shall then try to answer the question why is the frontline mission important
What is frontline missions?
If we are to answer this question, we must first have a general understanding of what we mean by the word “missionary.” At the most basic level, a missionary is someone who has been sent. The apostles as we see in the gospels, are called to be with Jesus and then he must send them. Mark 3:14 “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he must send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.”
A missionary is therefore that person called by God and sent out by the church to go out and further the gospel where it has not yet been established. With this understanding we can say that the frontline missionaries are those who are called by God and having heard him are sent by the church to further the gospel in the places it has not been established. These are the men and women who wake up daily convicted that the Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed. They are those who say with David Livingstone the missionary to East Africa “God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me…”
They are those to whom souls are dear and they cry out like John Knox passionately pleading to God “Give me Scotland or I die.”
Why is frontline mission important?
There are two broad reasons why frontline mission is important. Both reasons are firmly grounded on God’s word and this is important. The biblical basis for missions begins with God’s work of sending His son for our redemption. John 3.16 ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Many people know this verse, but how many know the next verse? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (v17).
The motive behind God sending His Son into the world is clearly for divine redemption. The purpose was not negative but positive; God didn’t send the son for the purpose of judgment, but rather for the purpose of redemption. Our God is a missional God.
So here are the two reasons:
A command to be obeyed
We all rush to Matthew 28.19 – 20 as we commission people to ‘go ye’.“Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” I think the implication of
these verses is very serious namely, that Christ is commanding us to be missional, to go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Kevin De Young the Senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church (USA) puts it this way, ‘Every Christian – if we are going to be obedient to the Great Commission – must be involved in missions, but not every Christian is a missionary.’
There is a great need
Matthew 9:37 – 38 ‘Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest.”
. The context here is that Jesus was going throughout cities and villages, he taught in synagogues, proclaiming the gospel and healing diseases and affliction. He saw how harassed and helpless the people were, they were like sheep without a shepherd .
What is our current situation? Are not the masses being harassed and helpless? Are they not afflicted by diseases? Are demonic attacks not spinning people around? Indeed, like sheep without a shepherd. The words of our savior are applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.
I spent time checking out global statistics of unreached people groups. According to the Joshua Project (as of February 19, 2018), there are 16,954 people groups in the world, 7,033 are unreached. In terms of population, we are at 7.48 Billion and 3.14 Billion people are unreached, this is 42.1% of the global population. Unreached means the group lacks enough followers of Christ and resources (Bibles in local language, discipleship materials etc) to evangelize to their own people.
What do these numbers mean to us? These are souls for whom the gospel must be preached. Let us come a little bit closer home. In Africa out of a population of 1.25 Billion people 349,831,000 people are unreached with the gospel.
Several of these people groups in the world are in places and under governments that are hostile to
Christian presence. So I am not saying it will be easy to reach them, not at all, it can be very costly! It means going to some new environment, a new language and perhaps a new culture all together. But if God would give us the passion, the courage and wisdom, the remaining task is neither vague, nor enormous, nor unattainable.
Would you join me in obeying Matthew 9.38 “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into the harvest.”?
Even as we pray friends, each of us must surely be considering our own part in this venture we should not be silence but rather energized to carry forward to obey our Master! The example of William Carry is one to learn from. He was trained as a shoe maker, in 1787 he suggested that all Christians had a duty to share the gospel around the world. To this he was told: “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine.” The young man refused to ‘sit down’, in 1792 he went to India and spent his life on missions. It was not an easy call, he saw no conversion for seven years, his son died of dysentery and his wife’s mental health deteriorated rapidly. Amidst the pain of loss, he wrote, “This is indeed is the valley of shadow of death to me. But I rejoice that I am here notwithstanding; and God is here.” Friends, there is a tremendous need in the world and we have a glorious gospel to share. Could it be that God is calling you? Talk to your elders in church, talk to your pastor, talk to GLA, let us pray with you as you consider this call. If ready, let us train you because we believe missionaries must be equipped, must be people of the word and let us send you in partnership with your church.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How will they call on him in whom
they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And
how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are