The Role of Missions?
What is the role of missions?
What’s the largest thing we’ve talked about already? What did Jesus say was the key? “By this all men will know you’re my disciples—by the love you have for each other.” So the key really becomes having our “together-life” in place. If we don’t have that right, then what can we go talk to anyone else about anyway? And if we have this quality of life in place, then Jesus promised us people would notice and would be drawn to Him because of how we live.
The REAL Christian life.
Can you describe your experience with the “unreached people’s group”?
I met my wife in Nigeria. She’s Australian and I’m American. We were both committed to missions. We grew up in Jesus and hearing Matthew 28, “Go ye therefore into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Finish it. Finish the verse.
That’s all I heard! That’s all I heard for years. We were part of a very good mission, an interdenominational mission. Probably one of the best ones you can be a part of. Their motto or vision was that we plant churches that plant churches that plant churches. We ended up working in Tunisia in the eastern part of the Sahara desert with the last truly nomadic herdsmen people. These are totally illiterate people. They move every 3 days on the open sand and are very poor, and yet they were coming to faith. Some of these guys were hearing the gospel and responding, “We’ve lost our way. We believe.” They would come back and lift up their shirts, take off their superstitious charms and say, “Look, I’m not afraid anymore.” And suddenly we had these people on our doorstep, literally, and we’re supposed to be church planters.
Okay, what does it mean “to be the church”? All we had ever known was, “Go into all the world, and make disciples and baptize them.” But that doesn’t help me. What do I do with these guys now? The mission had no idea what to do with these guys either. They thought to be a Christian you pray, you read your bible, and you go to a building on Sunday morning. None of which, apart from speaking to Father, we could give to them. There is no building for them to go to. They’re illiterate and most of them don’t want to know how to read even if they could.
The bottom line was finding God’s word in the rubble. We found the rest of that verse which says, “….and teach them to obey everything I have commanded.” And suddenly we were able to get off of the merry-go-round of missions which says we plant churches that plant churches that plant churches that plant churches. But no one ever stops to obey what Jesus said. I can tell you from first-hand experience about the church in Nigeria. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep because everyone’s planting churches to plant churches, but no one is obeying what Jesus said. And that’s the Great Commission—to OBEY what He said. But I could not possibly imagine what it would look like to be a missionary apart from working underneath a parent church organization. It just could not enter my mind.
We came home on furlough about 10 years ago, and had a crisis time like this where God was revealing Truth to us and we had to “throw the switch.” God was going to let us throw it one way or the other. “If you want to just leave it the way it is, you can go back to Africa and everyone will think you’re doing great. You’ll have converts. People will applaud you when you come home and give you money. You can go back and then eventually you’ll die and maybe they’ll write a book about you. Or! You can come home and resign from the mission and start over and let ME show you what it means to be the Head—functioning in the church where Jesus is truly the Head.”
With a lot of fear and trembling, we said, “What else can we do? I guess I don’t get chicken anymore. I guess there is a way. In missions we were told to do this, but You must have a thought about our doing this. I just don’t see it right now.” What we are and we’re being a part of today, I can see it now. We’re able to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey. We’re desiring to obey and encouraging others to obey. That’s “missions.” You don’t need a parent-church organization to do that.