One of the most important lesson I learnt in my journey as a missionary is that God is more interested in His work in me than my work for Him. I, like many missionaries, was willing to make the necessary sacrifice because I was motivated to make my life count and do something significant for God. This performance-oriented motivation was the first thing that had to die in order that the life of Jesus may be manifested to the people around me.
A presenter at Global Conference on World Evangelization (GCOWE) remarked, “If you are not on fire for God, you’re fired!” He underscored the importance of our hearts being set aflame for Missio Dei, the mission of God. Now we stand at the threshold of ushering the 3rd decade of the new millennium. The question remains: Where are we in reaching the lost and the least reached?
The Great Commission has spoken to many women and men with a passion for global mission over the centuries. It ends with a beautiful promise by Jesus: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is much more than a “BTW” (By The Way) or a “P.S.” It is a word from God to His people that, as we go about His Kingdom Business, we are assured of Jesus’ presence, protection, provision and power.
In 2001 a group of us were fellowshipping after SCEM (SCGM as it was known then) Monthly Breakfast Meeting. We agreed that it was time to organise a National Missions Conference (which became the GoForth NMC from 2002). We formed an organising committee and started planning. The budget came up to $400,000. We started with no money and no bank account. The targeted date for the NMC was nine months away. We started praying.
“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) is a common adage we hear as people look forward to getting some rest from the busyness of the week. It seems that this sentiment is the same for many Christians, etched in the fourth commandment, where work days appear to be nothing more than toil and necessary evil. Sermons usually focus on what we need to do on the Sabbath but never quite teach what we need to do on the other six days. How do we get this notion?
You see, it was not too long ago that I embarked on a bold endeavour that might be described as ‘a mission on the far side of the sea.’ But that fire was quite quickly doused by the fearsome prospect of a long and arduous journey ahead. For who would embark on such an endeavour at the late age of forty-nine, even if the mission was to learn the ropes of spiritual formation in order to make a contribution in the pastoral enterprise.
That fateful night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Peter was on fire … on a mission for Him! A mission wrought with danger as he infiltrated the courtyard and possibly thought of rescuing Jesus (after all he had probably kept one of the swords!) Peter’s desire to showcase his love and loyalty rang out loud! Yet, a small courtyard fire – set up for warmth and light – unexpectedly and quickly extinguished Peter’s fiery and passionate bravado.
Jesus’ ultimate motivation in this context is simply φίλους (philous), the beloved friendship that He longed to have with His disciples. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ (John 15:12) ESV. When I love my fellow mankind, the required commitment is the same as Jesus’ motive.
Like many others, my time at college was a “make or break” time in my journey. Often in our youth, we want a taste of the world and find that there’s still nothing better than God. God mercifully used a crisis of faith to challenge me and I remember telling God that if He showed Himself to be real, I would give my entire life to Him, but if not, I would never enter a church again.
Since young, my mother would lead all nine of us children in prayer every night. But I was not a believer and I thought the Christian faith was just another religion. I admired science a lot and thought that only science and technology could save humankind. I loved to ask difficult questions and enjoyed embarrassing my Sunday School teacher when she failed to answer my questions.