To Make Him Known
“Every Christian a missionary; every non-Christian a mission field”. This was a quote from Winkie Pratney, a New Zealandian writer and trainer of missionaries. In Matthew 28, we see Jesus assign the Great Commission to His disciples, to go into all the parts of the world and preach the gospel. And so they did, till the day that they died. However, being a missionary does not mean we have to travel far. All missionary means is sending. We have received words like “missionary” and “missions” from the Lation missio, and the Greek equivalent is apostello, from where we get the word apostle. We normally understand mission work as evangelism, church planting and spiritual development. Additionally, mission work can also include humanitarian work like healthcare, sanitation, social work, education, housing and enabling people to find jobs. There are so many ways that we can go and serve the kingdom of God. Therefore, anyone who is “sent” carrying the gospel message is a missionary ambassador, and if we are ready to open our eyes, we can see people in need all around us.
India has had a long relationship with missionaries, dating back to the first century. However, there are still more than 400,000 villages that have not been reached by the gospel. In these villages, there usually isn’t a single person who has even heard of Christ, let alone, a Christian. Like many of the nations in the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan, Indian missionaries face many different challenges. There are already such devoted people of other religions like Islam, Buddhism, and of course Hinduism. There are also many government restrictions to the preaching and teaching of Scripture and the establishment of churches. Nonetheless, missionaries throughout the years have strived to reach these lost communities and introduce them to the power of the gospel. One of the most famous missionaries to India was British missionary, William Carey also referred to as ‘the father of missions’. Carey came to India and was able to translate the Bible into 35 Indian languages and dialects, which gave so many Indians access to God’s Word. George Cook, who had experienced the mighty move of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street, was the first Pentecostal missionary to come to India. But missionaries do not have to have such a grand scale reach, it can start with just one person. When I visited Bihar, I heard a testimony from a person that heard the gospel through a radio program, and he accepted Christ as his personal Savior. He wanted to be baptized, but he didn’t know what to do. He wrote into the radio station and they told him to find any believer to baptize him. The man had no one to baptize him and so he baptized himself in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Twenty-four years later a missionary finally came to the village and brought the gospel to the whole community. These are just a few examples of how the Gospel can be shared, but whether it is in a big or small way, Jesus still reaches hearts.
One of the ministries that I partner with HOMM (Hands of Mercy Ministries) helps children who live in the slums of India. Children who grow up in such poverty do not have the opportunity to go to school. Instead, at a very young age, these children get drawn into the generational cycle of drugs, alcohol, crime, trafficking, and other side effects of destitution. Through HOMM I was able to meet a girl named Pooja and her siblings four years ago. Through the ministry, we were able to start sending Pooja and her siblings to a private school and were able to support her family with monthly food supplies. Her family then began attending one of our house churches, that in its two years had grown to have 25 people who attended services. Pooja and her family were doing well. But then, a few months later, we received news that Pooja’s twelve year old brother, Suraj, passed away from some health complications. In the midst of her sadness and difficult living situation, Pooja continued to study hard, finished high school and is now studying pre-college courses. The last time our mission team visited Pooja’s slum they were delighted to see how she is now giving back to her community and helping other children in her slum. Every evening after school, Pooja invites other children from the slum to come to her home so she can teach them to read and write so that they too can have an education and an opportunity for a better future. In her own way, with the resources that she has, Pooja is bringing light to the children and the families of her neighborhood; in the place that she is in, Pooja is a missionary.
In these last days, every penny given and every minute spent for the kingdom of God is valuable, no matter how small the amount of money or time may seem. I think it is beneficial and necessary for every Christian to spend time specifically for missions. Young people, if you can, carve out an extended period of time, a few months or even a year, to spend doing only mission work before you begin working, I know it will be a blessing in your career. Time spent in missions is never time wasted but rather redeemed in the best way because it was for the advancement of God’s kingdom. You will find that when serving in missions, your focus and attention is more about caring for others; instead of competing with people, you are unified in the purpose of making Christ’s life, death, resurrection and return known.
Do not be misled. This is not an easy thing to do. But the reward is so great. We all know of many people who have suffered and exhausted themselves so that the Truth might be heard. I know of missionaries who came to a mission station with the intention of staying for just one day but ended up staying for twenty years. But what others might see as a waste of two decades allowed for thousands of people to come to know Jesus Christ. Many missionaries have and continue to face rejection from their families and communities but still faithfully preach the Good News. However, because of their faithfulness, members of the highest castes were able to love everyone as their brother and sister with the unconditional love that is only found in Christ.
There are so many ways that we can be missionaries. In our homes, schools, and jobs. But there is also a great need for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus in less “safe” places. With such a need all around the world, what is our excuse? How can we see this broken world and close our eyes and deny them? Let us live lives of obedience, let us live lives on a mission.