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 wisdoms 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!
A Commitment to the frontline – By Anthony Kamau
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