INVOLVEMENT: Be part of our programs by participating in one of our Mission Training and Community Development Programs or sending/supporting someone or being part of the front line missions.
Meet Anthony Kamau as he explains to us what it means to be involved in front line missions.
We are confronted today by many forces within and outside the Christian faith that influence our perception and practice. Secularism is marrying Christianity in the most unfashionable 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 resulted 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 is still passionately pursing 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 and
- Give a biblical model which we embrace for missionary work.
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, they are called to be with Jesus and then he must sendthem. 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 judgement, 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.”
We are going to spend some time here as we look at these verses and also applying them to our current situation. 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 and that is when he uttered these words.
Fast forward…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.
Let us go further and see the gospel needs. 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.
Let us now settle at home in Uganda. With a total population of 42 Million people, we have 1,053,000 people who are unreached. We still need to send missionaries among the Aringa, the Nubian, the Arabs, the Gujarati, the Hindi, the Swahili speakers in Uganda.
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. It will be very costly. You will be in a 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, if convicted are we willing to be radical, sacrificial goers?
Biblical model for mission
There’s a constant narrative am giving you, and I hope it can stick in our minds, be imprinted in our hearts so that it can affect how we view mission. That is, mission is God ordained and that God is missional therefore we need to do this Biblically.
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed in. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.
The book of Acts is designed to show the advance of the gospel mission in the world. The passage before us is especially a good place to show us the model we should adopt. At the beginning of Acts 13 the church at Antioch, prompted by the Holy Spirit, set apart Paul and Barnabas “for the work to which I have called them” (v2). Then next we read “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (v3). What we see is a church intentionally sending out Christian workers with a mission to another place. Verses 19 – 28 is what we now call Paul’s first missionary journey, it’s also the sort of information Paul would have shared with the church upon his return (v27). It’s somewhat like a power point presentation the missionaries shared with the sending church: “This is how we saw God at work. Here’s where we went and what we did.”
So here is what the missionaries do:
- Make new disciples–“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples” (v21)
- Establishing churches – “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church” (v23).
- Nurturing churches/Discipleship – “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (v22).
The work is cut out for you who wants to be a missionary, there’s a clear job description. We only need the hands and feet and hearts to do this.
What if in doing all these, we can use our skills to be a blessing to the communities we are in? God has given us different gifts; there are those who go to the mission field and as they share the gospel they are able to show the love in many ways. Some are called to care for orphans, some in developing better sanitation in our communities, or helping the sick people who have no access to medical care. What must not be forgotten, I strongly suggest is that the goal of missions is lost souls, their conversion, the transformation of their hearts and minds and that they can grow from new believers to maturity.
Dear reader, would youconsider whether God is calling you to be engaged in this work as a frontline missionary? Perhaps you find delight in thinking somewhat you may be involved in gospel centered mission work. May be you are reading this murmuring beneath your breath, “That is what I want to do, to be sent out and come back give a report of what my witness of Christ has done, that God opened a door of faith to this people.”Friend we may not know but may be you will be used of God to help the number of unreached people groups reduce. Could it be that God is calling you? Respond dear friend, harden not your heart. Don’t wait in longer than you should. There’s a man William Carrey who 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 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 sent?