Africa Inland Mission sent out a team of full-term missionaries last night. They are all off to Africa to serve the Lord in a variety of capacities. So, I thought today’s post would talk to what missionaries used to look like.
One of the missionaries that left for Africa yesterday, asked for prayer along the lines of “pray for those of us that are parents, that we would remember that our ministry at home, with our families and kids, outweighs any ministry we are in Africa to serve.”
I thought that was a great reminder of the order of ministry and Jesus talks to that as well.
The first missionares sent out in the time of Christ were His own disciples. He sent them out in pairs with simple instructions. They were to take nothing with them but the power of Christ. They preached repentance, had authority over spirits, and healed the sick. This account was in Mark Chapter 6. Another account of sending out missionaries was in Luke Chapter 9 and again in Luke Chapter 10.
All of these accounts read very similarly. Missionaries/disciples were sent out to preach the good news, drive out demons and demonstrate God’s authority. It was pretty simple to start with. However, Jesus always throws a curveball in the works.
In Acts Chapter 1 Jesus tells the disciples that they will be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samara, and the rest of the world.
There are a few things that I would like to point out that I found interesting about that passage. First Christ says that they disciples will be His witnesses. He doesn’t say they will be His teachers, preachers, missionaries, workers, etc. He uses the word “witnesses” to demonstrate that through the ways that the disciples live out their faith, show signs from above, heal the sick etc. the rest of the world will know that He is God. That’s pretty amazing because many young Christians that desire to serve today are all about “going and doing something tangible.” This could be building houses, construction projects, bible studies, and doing things that can all be seen by man. While none of those things are wrong, the point of mission work isn’t to build something, or DO something for Christ…it’s to share what HE’S done for YOU. The only expertise we have in this world…are the things that we have overcome in our own walks with Christ.
What I mean by that is that I am not an expert on ACTS or books of the bible. I am an expert on ME and what God has taught ME personally. I can only tell you what I know and what He has revealed to me.
Anyway, all that to say, what newer Christians often miss is that we are in the business of directing immortal beings towards Christ so that they can share their eternity with Him instead of without Him. This whole earth will pass away and a new one will be created. So that being said, nothing we do here on earth in the physical will stand the test of time. It is the spiritual aspect that matters most. This is not to say that we do not need to address the physical too. Jesus fed a crowd with His Word and Living water…but also with bread and fish.
The second thing that struck me about the passage in Acts was the order in which Jesus listed cities. He said Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world.
Jerusalem was home for the disciples. Judea was their neighboring country. Samaria was despised by the Jews, and the rest of the world was considered heathen country.
I believe it is this passage that relates to the prayer request that started this post. The first place that mission work needs to be effective is in your own home and home town. We are so quick to serve in other countries and get away from our surroundings with the assumption that in the United States, most of our friends, family and neighbors say they are Christians.
While this is not to discourage going overseas to serve, or meeting the needs of other countries that God has directed us to, I just wanted to write a reminder and encouragement, that the first mission field that needs our focus, is our home. Whether is is your family, or closest friends, let your actions demonstrate Christ so that when you DO go and serve in Judea, and Samaria that your witness continues to be demonstrated to those at home.
Jesus said that the disciples would be His witnesses, so let’s make sure that our witness is solid so that when asked by a “Samaritain” (foreigner/someone who doesn’t know Christ) as to why we are serving away from home, why we are not with family, we are able to answer with boldness, that we have not merely left our friends and family aside and decided to go and “help the less fortunate” but that because of the closeness of our friends and families, because of the obvious witness of Christ in us, that we are able to leave those we love most behind, in full confidence that Christ is ministering to them. It is for that reason we are able to go in two’s to serve the rest of those that have never heard the good news of Christ.
So, as missionaries for Christ, let’s remember to serve boldy, but let us not forget where we’ve come from (as we and the old testament Jews so often did) so that we might share with others all that God has done for us, allowing Christ to collide with the lives of all the eternal beings we come in contact with just by our interactions and demonstration of love. Be a witness for Christ and all that He has done in your life, and start at home.