Missionaries Escape Boundaries
Well, did that title catch your attention? However, it is easy to develop the premise. Every missionary leaves their Jerusalem (the place where they live and church they attend) to enter their Judea (within their state), their Samaria (within their country) and the uttermost parts (crossing borders into some other country).
The Great Commission calls all believers to reach their world. Working through the local church, we are to give a significant priority to witnessing to the lost . However, for most believers, witnessing is primarily limited to their neighborhood and their larger community. It is a big task. Every local church needs to involve its members in evangelism, discipleship, leadership development (including future missionaries) and even church planting, depending on the size of their larger community.
The opportunity for believers/local churches to reach their world comes through missionary endeavors. “Every missionary goes to someone else’s Jerusalem” when they cross any border – local, state or international. Support from churches and individuals allow them to “escape the boundaries” of their community to enter the spiritual battlefield of others for the purpose of evangelism, discipleship, leadership development (including missionaries) and church planting.
In his July 15 devotional, Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest) exposes the driver of missionary effort. He writes how Paul shares his zeal for missions in Romans 1:14, identifying his overwhelming debt to Jesus Christ for the lost people of the world. Chambers writes, “Do I feel that sense of indebtedness to Christ in regard to every unsaved soul?”
With this burden, Paul was sent by the Holy Spirit and released by the Antioch church to take the gospel to their world. We are so blessed by the record of his three missionary journeys and his anticipated fourth.
Quoting Chambers again, “I am not to be a superior person amongst men, but a bond slave of the Lord Jesus. … He (writing of Paul) says – I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only.”
So, how are we who are missionaries to live out this example of missionary zeal? We follow Paul through his journeys and find him spending hours in some places, days in others, weeks, months and sometimes years in multiple communities. Here then is the question. Were we as missionaries really meant to simply transfer from one community to another community, trade one boundary to be confined within another boundary?
As we enter the spiritual battlefields of others, were we as missionaries intended to fight the battle for them? No doubt, there is the need for initial leadership, but the goal of Paul seemed to be evangelize, organize and move on. His letters and return trips represented his continuing ministry to the churches he established and organized.
Yet, many times, we as missionaries move into a community and begin our work. Then we become entrenched in that community and busy in wonderful, heart-felt, redeeming ministry. From time to time, we look around at all the things we are expecting/expected to do; only to discover that national believers are simply watching us work. Seriously???
As missionaries, being a debtor to Jesus Christ cannot be reduced to a single community any longer. With 7.3 billion people, a shrinking missionary work force, and a majority of the world outside the ability of American local churches to send missionaries among them, new mission strategies must be considered. In addition, multiplication of ministry must become the objective. Staying in one place for an inordinate amount of time should be off the table. Instead:
- How about sending an experienced church planter to assist four national church planters to plant a church on every corner of a major city?
- What about a circuit riding approach to churches planted by the mission/missionary?
- Why not inspire the national churches planted by the mission to take responsibility for the Great Commission so that they select, support, send, and sustain their missionaries who likewise will follow a multiplying strategy? If the national churches do not have enough to support their missionary, then how about partnering with them for a time so that they can send their missionary to reach their world NOW.
- Got any multiplying ideas? Please add to the list!
I am debtor …. (Romans 1:14). Time to move, then move…let’s get moving! There is a world to reach for Jesus Christ to whom we owe a debt.