Should we go where the action is?

Is it better stewardship to support missionaries in a region of the world where people are responding to the gospel as opposed to regions where people are not responsive?

There is a popular idea that says something like “find out what God is doing and get in on it.” There are undoubtedly different ideas that accompany that statement. One of them intends that you should only work where you are seeing visible results. In the missions world, the application is to go to countries where there is a lot of response to the gospel. Alternately, the implication is that you should not bother going to places where there are few visible results.

There are several difficulties with this idea.

1. Jesus said to take the gospel to everyone, everywhere (Mark 16:15). We don’t have the right to pick and choose who should hear the gospel. It is clear from the Great Commission that every person on the planet should hear the good news, whether or not they respond.

2. This philosophy presumes you can figure out what God is doing. There are many many stories of missionaries who left a country feeling like failures because there were no visible results but then the next generation of missionaries came there there was a huge harvest. Scripture uses agriculture as an illustration of gospel work (1 Corinthians 3:6–7). It starts with plowing, then moves to watering, fertilizing, cultivating and eventually there is a harvest. Harvesting is the fun part. Who wouldn’t want to do that? But that doesn’t happen if someone doesn’t do the hard work beforehand.

3. This approach has no scriptural backing and feeds the secular “bang for your buck” philosophy. There are groups that advertise they can win people to Christ at $1.76 per believer. That is highly attractive to a donor. The only problem is that there are some who are faithfully evangelizing without seeing results. They are being obedient to the Great Commission and are equally deserving of support. It is crass commercialism to reduce God’s work to this level.

So yes, it sure would be fun to only show up at harvest time.

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Evangelism without a pulpit

Early in the afternoon, I left the Hong Kong skyscrapers behind and headed into the nearby mountains with a friend I have been witnessing to for the last two years. We hadn’t gotten together for a couple of months so as we hiked through the jungle-like forest and sat beneath a towering waterfall, we caught up with each other. I found out what had been going on in his life and shared what God was doing in mine, leading to another opportunity to share Christ. It may have looked like a holiday, but it was also ministry.

After the hike, I returned home…briefly. Soon, I was off to the Wo Hing Sports Center. My co-worker had reserved a basketball court. Two friends I have been witnessing to had promised to come, and both arrived right on time. Unfortunately, at the last minute, my co-worker’s contacts could not come. We had four guys and a full court basketball court rented. What could we do? I went “into the highways and byways” and compelled men to come in! Soon we had two full teams. We made new contacts and continued the old. Afterwards, my two friends and I headed out to dinner. Once again, it may have looked like a holiday, but it was also ministry.

When most people think of missions, they picture a man standing in the pulpit or teaching a Bible study (which we do, of course). They don’t think of spending an afternoon hiking a beautiful mountain, playing a friendly basketball game, or enjoying a delicious barbecue. However, each of these is an excellent opportunity for evangelism and ministry.

MC, serving in Hong Kong

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Evangelism: An Act of Worship

By: Robert E. Zink

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The single most important activity of your life is to worship God. You were made for this – to offer your whole life, in all its parts, as a hymn of praise to the Lord” (1). Each of us are creatures made to worship. This is why the psalmist urges readers to worship the Lord from the innermost being (Psalm 103:1) and Paul contends that Christians should offer their lives as a sacrifice, which is an act of spiritual worship (Romans 12:1). The expression of worship can be manifested in a variety of means. Have you ever considered then, that evangelism is also an act of worship to God?

First, consider what worship is. It is a response to the attributes and/or activities of God in Spirit and truth (John 4:23) (2). The call upon the Christian life is a life of worship to the one, true God. Such a call is one meant to draw out an inward conviction into outward action in order that God may be glorified and praised for who he is and what he does.

Consider also, what is evangelism? Evangelism is more than a call; it is a command upon the lives of believers. So important is this aspect of the Christian life that the Lord Jesus Christ included it in his alpha and omega commands (cf. Matthew 4:19; Acts 1:8). Evangelism is the method that God has ordained for his people to be saved and therefore it serves a vital role in the salvation process because it communicates the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. In doing so, it presents who man is in light of who God is.

Moreover, it is a proclamation to conversion because of what God has done.

Therefore, evangelism is a response to who God is and what he does, making it an act of worship. Evangelism then, is a tremendous form of worship because it calls attention to God, gives glory to God, and sees lives transformed by God. Perhaps we should be reminded of an important aspect of evangelism from the words of Mark Dever:

The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the Good news of salvation in Christ . . . We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully present the Gospel and yet the person is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully present the Gospel at all (3).

Evangelism then, is more than act of obedience. It is an act of devotion, an act of adoration, and an act of glorification of the Father. Therefore, one way to fulfill the Lord’s command to worship him is by exalting him through the proclamation of his message, the gospel.

(1) Sinclair Ferguson, Healthy Christian Growth (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 7.
(2) This definition of worship is not my own, but comes from my former professor, Dr. Greg Harris, author of the Glory Books (The Cup and the Glory, The Stone and the Glory, and The Darkness and the Glory) and professor at The Master’s Seminary and University.
(3) Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 123.
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Jesus, dinner and evangelism

Jesus accepted seven dinner invitations and social engagements. Three of them were with rather generic… but we probably wouldn’t have gone to the other four. He was mixing it up with really bad people. He was socializing with the scum of society.

This was so radical that He was regularly hit with criticism. The religious people of his day could not believe He would spend time with “tax collectors and sinners.” In their view, good people don’t associate with “bad” people. Maybe that is your view as well. But the reality is that Jesus mixed it up with lost people.

When is the last time you socialized with non-Christians. Have you ever risked your reputation because of associations with bad people? Do you have any unsaved friends? Have you ever been criticized for evangelism?

How is that for following Jesus?

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