“We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” Jn. 4:42
The early church understood that God had made a way for all nations to be adopted as children of God. Through the centuries this message has been carried to the ends of the world and it continues to be spread to this day. There are many critics who point to the sins of the church and the abuses of colonialism as a way to minimize the work of missions. Yet, in spite of our flawed and at times, sinful, inadequacies, the good news reaches the hearts of those who are seeking God.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
In the 19th century there was an explosion of English Protestant missionary activity around the world. William Carey, the father of missions, went to India as a translator and printer. David Livingstone explored Africa as a doctor and mapped much of the continent. George Muller started faith missions and took in over 10,000 orphans in England. Hudson Taylor spent more than 50 years in China; Amy Carmichael served 56 years in India. Their stories and pioneer efforts inspired generations of young people to go “into all the world” with the message of Jesus.
The great commission to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” has not been revoked. It remains our primary mission as the church. There are still unreached people groups who have never had the opportunity to respond to the good news. Today the focus has changed from sending out missionaries to do the work of evangelism, to working with believers within each culture. Education, medicine, Bible translation have all been effective tools in reaching the world. The goal is no longer to colonize, exploit, and assimilate, but rather, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread”. (D.T. NILES, New York Times, May 11, 1986).
With the explosion of the internet, and the accessibility of smart technology, it is becoming easier for seekers to find answers without leaving their homes. More importantly, God has opened the door, through immigration, for the world to come to us. Our inner city schools are filled with first and second generation children from around the world, eager to make a better life. It is our responsibility to demonstrate grace and love and hope rather than racism and discrimination. It is God who does the work in people’s lives. It is our calling to love.
Lord, let us demonstrate your love to those around us in such a way that they may see the beauty of Jesus. We leave the work of transformation in your hands; help us to be faithful to your calling and to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi Amen