How can we be more practical? This is the question which many people ask when it comes to global missions and engaging with the local community. On one level this is a fair question from (usually) good motives. Churches obviously want to be able to communicate in a way which is accessible to those outside. That being said it is important that we don’t over look the most practical thing available to us.
It is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1, 15). It is the most practical and pragmatic thing in the toolkit of the church. We must never forget this. It is the single most relevant piece of news that any human being will ever engage with. For this reason Paul writes the most practical of letters to Rome. He teaches them again the great truths of what God has done in Jesus Christ. Wrath is dealt with in Christ, Sin is atoned for in Christ, salvation for all people is in Christ. He did not write this from a seminary library but on the front line of gospel work, desiring to see others come to know the living God.
This has been a year of great celebration in global mission with the 150 year anniversary of Hudson Taylor founding the CIM now OMF. Quite rightly we give thanks to God for all that he did! We rejoice at the way God used simple methods and humble faith to grow gospel work in East Asia. But one of the great aspects of any form of thanksgiving celebration is the opportunity it allows to reflect on the past so as to influence our present and shape our future.
Which is why the great witnesses that have gone before us urge us to keep on running while giving thanks to God (Heb 12:1-3). It was the gospel of God which inspired them and the hope of eternity which moulded them. They did not live sinless lives. But they pursued the kingdom of Christ counting all things as loss (Phil 3:7-8).
How do we reach the tribal people of outer Mongolia? Who spends time with the millions of Muslim Chinese in North West China? How can we reach the inner regions of the Amazon? Who will be the next people that will pioneer the work of making Jesus known in the most hostile and inhospitable regions of the Earth?
Simply I want to say to anyone who is involved in cross cultural work; keep running! Jesus is worth it and sharing the message of salvation to an unreached world is worth it. For those who are not or not yet involved in cross cultural ministry cheer on the runners! Who know, God may ask you to serve him in this way. But regardless of our geographical location, each of us are left to ask one question. Am I willing to be a failure for Christ? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21)