I’m continuing to blog in the same vein as a previous blog-post on missionaries and evangelization.
I admire the missionary friends I know. They have sacrificed a comfortable life here in Canada to better the lives of people outside this country. Why? For the sake of Christ’s calling to serve God.
Many missionaries have literally sacrificed “blood, sweat and tears” to evangelize and bring the good news of Jesus to places where people live on the margins.
I personally witnessed the good and fruitful work of missionary families earlier last year in March 2018. My family went to Thailand and Cambodia (here), and here and here. This trip opened my eyes to see, what I would categorize as, life on the margins.
I witnessed God was truly at work in the local peoples, cultures, places, and in other far-reaching places around the world.
When people in the church can be so brutal, their relentless love to share and bless other people has restored my faith to continue believing that God so loves this world.
It takes lots of faith to step out and take such big risks. Many missionaries are sent out but require funding through private donations. Denominationally-sponsored missionaries are not as common as before. Even then, they are still required to do their own fund-raising.
Thank God for missionaries and their devotion to serve the Lord. For them, it really is a calling and not a career. Some pastors and even chaplains make this a career when it really ought to be a calling first. Without God’s calling, people can get side-tracked and lose sight of what God has called them to do.
But missionaries receive most of their financial support through individual donations. Often times, donations barely cover their annual operating expenses. Many missionaries just get by, but they do not want to be seen as begging their home churches for funds.
If we do not bring the gospel that brings freedom to cultures and civilizations, then other religions will step in. Islam is also working hard to bring their religion into places around the world. It is also happening across cities in North America and Europe. Some of Islam’s proselytization can be very aggressive around the world. In some extreme cases, violent fundamentalism resort to a violent and authoritarian means of forced conversion.
As the Christian Church, we can pray for missionaries. Pray that God renews their strength every day. The love of Jesus is real. The good news of Jesus impacts lives. It heals broken hearts and lives torn by sin and corruption.
Evangelism is seen as a dirty word in some circles. We are ashamed of evangelism because it’s proselytization.
Much of the Near East used to be Christian. At one point in time, the Near East was where Christianity blossomed and had its center (i.e., modern-day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, northern Africa). Today, we have seen the direction it has taken.
Fact is, every culture has been proselytized by one religion or another. Yes, even Europeans at one point in time. If proselytizing is such a bad thing, then perhaps Europeans should return to the old religions.
Christianity has brought so many blessings to Europe and North America. Today, Asia is experiencing similar blessings that Christianity once brought to the western world.
Secularism, humanism, atheism, also have their own forms of proselytization. They all their own evangelists who seek to influence people toward their way of thinking.
We have lost much ground due to an increased secularization within our culture and society within the last several generations. We have 2-3 generations that have false impressions of what the Church and the gospel are all about. Church and the Christian life are genuine spiritualities that can give people a renewed hope–not because of the organization but because of Jesus.
We have a great and wonderful spiritual heritage. It is worth carrying on for the sake of the next generation. If we do not, they will miss out on a rich blessing.
Brand new Christians can often make the best evangelists. When they first get to know Jesus, they share with excitement about God with all their friends and family without shame. Surprisingly, many of their friends and family can turn to God.
Evangelism ought to be a natural thing we do. It can take place naturally with two friends over coffee at a local cafe. I can share with a buddy about what God is doing in my life. Why shouldn’t he listen? I have to listen to all their crap too. It’s an exchange that happens between friends. It can happen organically as one friend shares the good news with another friend. This is a ministry.
Call it what you may. Some call it a healing ministry to the spiritually sick. Some call it a proclamation or promotion of good news that transforms lives. Whatever we choose to name it, it is still evangelization. This world is our mission field–even our own home is a mission field.
May God bless his one, holy, catholic Church around the world. May God’s good news spread far and wide to the four corners of the world.
Kevin A. Sam
(This Jerusalem cross, one of my favorite symbols in the world, represents the gospel going to the four corners of the world).