THE QUEST FOR PROFESSIONALS AT THE MISSIONS FRONTLINE
Someone must simply go! By Solomon Nyakuni
Every year Global Link Afrika gets to bring together students and Christian professionals for a one day seminar on missions in the three regions of West Nile, Northern, and Central Uganda in an effort to mobilize them for Missions involvement and support.
My favorite period is during the mobilization stages when we get to interact with vast numbers of student leaders who are burning with passion for God and who hold very influential positions in their campuses. We also get to work with student organizations like FOCUS Uganda and Scripture Union and independent Christian unions that are doing commendable jobs in ensuring Christian presence and viable discipleship and mentorship in these institutions.
Little exposure to missions
Despite the great Christian presence, and passionate leaderships, there is clearly lack of adequate exposure to Missions in a broader aspect among these students. We are encountered with the narrow view of missions as only short evangelistic campaigns that last a week or two. The sad reality of this short sightedness among some of the preachers who regularly occupy the pulpits of these Christian Unions, and not to mention the growing influence of the wealth, health and prosperity gospel and teachings which has widely spread like Gangrene, is possibly partly responsible for some of this reality.
I remember attending an evening fellowship with one of the Christian Unions where the preacher continuously emphasized on the need to operate in ‘Spirit and freedom’. He went on and on and on about prospering in acquisition of wealth, being sickness free and as expected even to declare on the basis of Psalms 82:6 that the members were gods and sons of the Most High God.
I was then to come and pass the announcement and invite the students to come for a seminar which had a small fee they were to pay. I seriously wondered if I should borrow the preachers’ powerful tones or simply go gently and say what I came to say then just leave. Firstly, I wasn’t going to say appealing words about them. Secondly, from the looks on the audience’s faces, I was not welcome. But gathering enough courage I went on to say; “Friends’ there are two commands I want to share with you all today first, the Great Command to love our neighbors as ourselves and second, the Great Commission to Go make disciples of all nations!” One guy at the front row immediately exclaimed “The Great what?” I was certainly taken aback by the comment, but I thought to myself, maybe I would have said the same thing if I were one of the students at the time. But I praise God that my eyes were opened.
Understanding Missions opens eyes
I first heard of the great commission in the very first GLA Professionals in Missions seminar held in Kampala on April 2012. I had been a believer for many years and sat under many sermons and I quite wondered why it took this long to come across this vital command to Christians by the Lord Himself. It was after the seminar that I realized Missions is a rare topic among Christians. As a student Nurse at a college in West Nile, I remembered traveling for this seminar with a colleague and friend with whom we both ended up signing up to serve in the mission’s field under Global Link Afrika the following year. That day, the call to go and make disciples of all nations came very clear to me that only sheer stubbornness could define any negative response to the message. I signed for long term Missions involvement. It is today that whenever I look at the files, I am reminded that it was all about saying yes to the Lord of the harvest. It was obedience, in simple sense, and that is what’s kept me serving for the last three years. So then, the quest for someone to simply go in all sense became a revolutionizing call to a radical choice to obey Christ and live for His glory at any cost. I still say someone must simply Go!
Dealing with the knowledge gap on Missions
What came clear to me after the seminar in 2012 was that something was missing on our pulpits. Our Church programs are great; the Sunday services and the cell groups, the giving, prayer retreats, the youth fellowships, the men and women’s fellowships, the mother and father’s unions are all great and part of the Missions involvement. But then how do I make sense of these explicit commands of Christ in Scripture to go, if all I am told is to remain a faithful pew warmer, and be content with my indifference to the call to go (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, or Luke 24:44-48, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8), offer support(Romans 15:24, 2Corinth 8:1-7, 9:16-15, 3John 5-8, 2 Corinth 11:8-9and gladly pray (Col 4:3, 1Thes 5:23, 2Thes 1:11, 3:1, Acts 12:1-25) for missions work? And more clearly so, as Apostle Paul would ask “How then 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 sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)
My point is that little is being said in the pulpits about responding to the great commission and the quest to forsake the world for the sake of the Gospel, follow Christ and participate in His passion for World evangelization. A lot of sermons are aimed at keeping the congregant comfortable, secure, uninterrupted, and thriving in disobedience to the commands of the Savior we claim to proclaim and believe. Such sermons seem to just reinforce the already selfish contemporary dreams of working hard to be all those people we dream to be, get all those things we dream to own but not what God is calling us to be, and certainly not what He is calling us to treasure most.
Let me finish my story at the Christian union – I quickly realized I was dealing with a fresh knowledge to some of the students. But then I was only given five minutes to introduce myself, share about GLA, and then share about the seminar that very reason I visited. So I had to simply tell them that Missions is about God and His work in the world, the Bible is all about it and then mentioned in a sentence those passages where our Lord Jesus explicitly or implicitly commanded the disciples to go and proclaim the good news. Of course I enjoyed the silence; yes it was time for the missionary God to roar. But deep in my heart, I was like there has got to be more time given for missions mobilization among Christians, more awareness and trainings opportunities made available and more partnership networks for Christians to know what other members in the body of Christ are doing.
Appeal to Preachers
But, who really are the custodians of these mandates? Who are in the right positions to enlighten Christians about this understanding of God’s mission? How come there is little time and resources allocated for trainings and creating awareness on Missions and no one seems to care? May be this quote from the Lausanne covenant would wake us up. It is seems rightly said to be that -“A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit.”
If there is a humble appeal and prayer we should make, it should be to the leaders and preachers of God’s word. That they would feed God’s flock in faithfulness! Being faithful to God’s word, and to declaring His glory, His faithful promises and purposes and fulfillments in all of human history, that they would do so with full conviction and pleasure, making other’s glad in God. And that, the missionary work of God in all of history would be their heart beats so that not their own agenda, or worship experiences or traditions or conventional wisdom would be more appealing and easily alluring not just to win the itching ears but that the call to serve God’s purpose and achieve God’s results, with God’s means and help, for God’s glory and praise would be their drive in preaching!