Fulfilling His Dreams—7 Ways to help you engage in Missions
Today is our monthly service where we spend our time thinking about the call to missions. It is important to remember the founder of the Foursquare Church - Sister Aimee Semple McPherson and the Foursquare Gospel she preached. The Foursquare message was very Christocentric: Jesus our Saviour, Jesus our Healer, Jesus our Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and Jesus our Soon-coming King. The theme verse she chose for the movement also centered on our Lord: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebr 13:8). People reported that Aimee’s preaching made Jesus very real to them and they could sense His presence as she spoke.
The founding church, Angelus Temple was dedicated on January 1, 1923. The inscription Sister Aimee had carved into the cornerstone of Angeles Temple is “dedicated unto the cause of interdenominational and worldwide evangelism,” and to this day continues to motivate the hearts of Foursquare ministers. The auditorium had a seating capacity of approximately 5,000 people and was filled three times each day, seven days a week for months on end. It was believed to be the largest single Christian congregation in the world at that time. According to church records, Angelus Temple received 40 million visitors within the first seven years. Next to Angelus Temple was LIFE Bible College, LIFE standing for “Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism”. The commitment to evangelism and world missions is built into the very cornerstone of our denomination.
What is a Christian missionary?
A Christian missionary is directed by the Lord to make disciples and followers of Christ, thereby fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus commands all Christians to share the Gospel, the message of His death and resurrection that conquered the penalty and power of sin and defeated Satan. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Who is a Christian missionary is another question all together. Missionary Word Picture… Many people picture a missionary as someone who leaves his or her family and job behind and travels to a foreign country to evangelize and plant churches… While at one time this was a somewhat accurate description, in today’s context it is too simplistic. Today, we have Filipinos reaching out to Canada, praise God, African Christians reaching out to Muslims in the Middle East. Some time we have students reaching out to Bolivia during their school year like some from our church. A family befriends and witnesses to immigrants or refugees coming to Canada. All these are missionaries… Although missionaries cannot be stereotyped, they each have a call. God calls them to set aside personal ambitions in order to be witnesses of the Gospel.
10 Ways to help you engage in Missions
On Mission’s Sunday I would like to give us as individuals and families so practical ways to be engaged in evangelism and missionary work on a regular basis. The 10 points that follow are give us a foundational framework with regards to missions and also give us a list of hands-on activities we can all engage with.
1. Think as Biblical Christians.
We are told in the Bible “as a man thinks, so he is…” It is important for believers to understand the big picture of the Kingdom of God and to think in ways that agree with God’s Word. We must discover and develop as healthy Biblical Worldview; a worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. A Christian Worldview touches our ideologies, philosophies, theologies, that provides an comprehensive approach to how we understand God and the cultures of the world.
George Barna, who founded “The Barna Group”, a research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behaviour, asks the following questions with regards to a Biblical Worldview.
- Do absolute moral truths exist?
- Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
- Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
- Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
- Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
- Is Satan real?
- Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
- Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Answering these questions positively helps us to establish a Biblical Worldview. However, only 9 percent of “born- again’ believers surveyed answered yes. No one has a 100% accurate biblical worldview, but none the less, a biblical worldview is essential if we are going to be successful in evangelism and world missions.
It is true that believers live in the world but are not of the world. Jesus prayed this for all believers as seen in John 17:14-16 - I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
One of the dangers for believers is to become isolationists from a broken world around us or on the other hand conformists who join worldly culture. We are to be salt and light (Matt 5:13-16). We are not to conform to the way of the world but be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:1-2).
2. Stay current with world events:
In addition to a healthy worldview as believers we must expose ourselves to the perspectives on news and the realities around the world. There is much going on in the world around us, believers need to be informed so that we can effectively share our faith.
It is important for us to have an educated opinion about what is going on in the Middle East, ISIS, Israel and Palestine, refugees, oil prices, the economy. These are the every day struggles and questions that people engage in. We must be able to answer questions and bring comfort to their struggles.
One of the important things to consider in light of world events is this, God is active and is continuing to bring forth his master plan to completion. Psalm 2 reminds us that even though the nations rage and people conspire, affecting world events, God has installed Jesus as His King.
3. Pray for missionaries as a family:
Prayer is a practical activity we can all join in no matter our age or maturity. One of the things I like about God is this - He accepts prayer from everyone… In the case of praying to God on behalf of missions, we can do so in several ways.
- Becky and I stay in contact with our missionary friends via Facebook and are constantly being reminded to pray for them.
- Some of us have pictures on the fridge to remind us to pray for missionaries.
- Be reminded of the challenges and situations that affect their lives; earthquakes, health, finances etc.
Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the [mystery] of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Eph 6:19-20).
4. Read books about missionaries as a family:
In New Testament times followers of Christ would read the Old Testament to teach and correct and inspire each other. In our modern times we have so much history to learn from. When our girls were younger we would tell them stories of missionaries and read stories to them. The stories of Hudson Taylor (China), Adoniram Judson (Burma), William Carey (India), Gladys Aylward (China - The Inn of the Sixth Happiness), Mother Theresa (India), our own Aimee Semple McPherson (Hong Kong) and other missionary pioneers are captivating ways to think globally and being inspired locally to serve.
5. Finds ways to financially support missions:
Financial stewardship is a lesson we all need to learn and practice. The tithe and offerings and generosity that the Bible teaches are important to consider and engage in. Teach your kids from a young age that being a good steward of their money involves channelling resources toward the cause of Christ in missions. Older kids can donate some of their lawn mowing and babysitting money. Younger children can earn money doing chores around the house which can be set aside for missionaries.
6. Find a pen pal:
The term “pen pal” may be outdated but it is a great way to intentionally connect with a missionary family overseas. Many children of missionaries around the world would be delighted to have a friend connect with them. Facebook is a great tool. You and your family can learn valuable insights about living abroad through the eyes of a child.
7. Show hospitality to missionaries in your home.
Hospitality is a great ministry that can support and encourage missionaries. Whether it is having coffee or a meal in your home, this kindness will bless their hearts. Sometimes letting them stay for a night or two in your house shows genuine interest. You will be able to listen to them and pray with them as they continue on in their journey.
This can seem risky and take people out of their comfort zones but that is OK. The willingness to take a risk like this will speak volumes to your children and to the missionaries themselves.
The main reason we take a Sunday a month to focus on missions is to keep us centered on the Big Picture. This is good. However, one of the challenges we face is how to be missional at home. In other words, how can we be directly involved in the Great Commission here in Saskatoon. We are a multi cultural church which has both its blessings and challenges. The way one engages in the Great Commission is very unique especially when it comes to the different cultures represented in our congregation.
Some of these practical activities will help us on our journey towards being global Christians who are engaged locally in the Great Commission.
I hope and pray that we fulfill God’s Dream for Courts of Praise as “we become a grace-full, loving, accepting and forgiving community of believers from all nations that celebrate each other and who are committed to bringing souls into God’s kingdom.”