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A Church to Fulfill the Commission: Local Mission? Foreign Mission?

May 3

Written by:
5/3/2017  RssIcon

This blog will also be featuring articles from its predecessor, the CCUC Messenger Newsletter. So please enjoy this special article from our very own Rev. Ming Lee.

A Church to Fulfill the Commission: Local Mission? Foreign Mission?

There are two general views churches have regarding missions: One is to excel in local outreach and address foreign missions when there is sufficient financial support; the other believes God will supply all the resources when the church is fully committed to its missionary mandate. How should we move forward then? What priority shall we set? Is it true that there are only local and foreign missions? And how can we move from local to overseas missions? 

More than two thousand years ago, when the disciples stood gazing at Jesus’ ascension, the angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) Such a proclamation reminds believers of all ages to focus on worldwide gospel needs, because our Lord will return one day and we shall be judged by what we have done. Let us review Jesus’ commission to the disciples from three perspectives (Acts 1:6-11).

The Need (Acts 1: 6-7)

The disciples were apparently very concerned with the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. But Jesus’ rebuke clearly told them that it was not for them to know the time or date the Father had set by His above. God made no revelation to them until Jesus came to launch the plan of salvation (Luke 2:11-12). It was apparent that God’s plan to save all nations centered around Jesus’ disciples, who were willing to take on the responsibilities of preaching the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 24:14).

The Strategy (Acts 1: 8)

How can we spread the gospel all over the world among so many ethnic groups and over 7 billion people? We need to understand Jesus’ command from both a geographic and cultural aspect. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In terms of geography, the disciples were told to spread the gospel from Jerusalem (local), Judea (nearby), Samaria (further away), and to the ends of the earth (far away). On the other hand, when the scope of the task is viewed culturally, Jerusalem was a place sharing the same culture and language with the disciples (equivalent to the Putonghua speakers among Chinese), Judea had the same culture but different dialects (such as Shanghainese, Cantonese, and Fujianese speakers); whereas the Samarians had a similar culture but different languages (such as Japanese and Korean); and finally, the “ends of the earth” are places where the cultures and languages are entirely different (for example, Britain, Spain, Germany, and France). Hence, an analogy has been made by scholars in the missionary field that proposes four types of missionary targets; that is, Type 1 with the same culture and language, Type 2 with the same culture but different dialects, Type 3 with a similar culture but different languages, and Type 4 with different cultures and different languages.

For sure, God’s will is for us to preach the gospel near and afar, regardless of cultural and language barriers. But many churches today have a tendency to set their priorities on nearby communities with the same culture/language. This would certainly hinder the worldwide spread of gospel. My conviction is that Jesus’ mandate is for us to take on all four types of missionary targets.

The Implementation (Acts 1: 4-5, 8)

It is indeed a difficult task to fulfill such a mandate. Nonetheless, it is not impossible. The Bible has affirmed us that God’s plan can be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4, 4:31, and 16:25-26 clearly describe God’s empowering the disciples with the Holy Spirit when they gathered together to pray, enabling them to speaking other tongues, and giving them the courage to speak the Word of God with boldness. We may sometimes be astonished by the seemingly inconclusive ending of the Acts (Acts 28:30, 31). But perhaps there is no better close to the book than to witness the evangelization of the limits of the then-known world – Rome, the capital of the gentiles – as commanded by Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, CCUC is a missionary church. We do have missionary conferences, budgets for missionary work, as well as missionary programs. Nevertheless, we need to remind ourselves whether we are indeed doing what Jesus has commended us to fulfill. Are we committed to all four types of missionary tasks? Are we sending people out to spread the gospel besides giving financial aid? It is our wish that the whole church, and every member in it, continue to grow and complete the tasks in order to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. You are therefore encouraged to do the following:

1. Pray for our missionaries and their missionary work for at least 5 minutes every day for three months.

2. Make a commitment by faith to financially support all four types of missionary tasks.

3. Participate in local outreach ministry and/or short-term mission.

4. Earnestly explore before God whether you would join full-time ministry or missionary services.

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