Missions Conversations from around the Web

We value good conversation about missions around here—dialogue that inspires and equips and moves people to engage. We’ve found some really helpful articles around the web this week that we think add to that conversation, so we’d like to interact with them and share them with you.

Persecution Backfire

“Persecution” is a term that’s been tossed around a lot in the US church of late. There have been arguments about what is and isn’t persecution, whether or not we should expect it, and what to do if we experience it. You know where they’re not arguing over it? Iran. Believers there have no doubt what persecution is. But the persecution they face has not had the intended effect.

An article was posted this week at The Gospel Coalition entitled “5 Ways Persecution in Iran has Backfired.” It considers five specific ways that persecution of the Iranian church has not only failed but has backfired, causing growth where there was once decline. The story is a celebration of God’s ability to strengthen his church in the face of great pain, loss, and even death.

The author, David Yeghnazar, describes the reality of persecution within the country and the havoc it has wreaked in lives and families. Yet, he boldly proclaims that the faithful in Iran have not and will not back down. He leans heavily into the Scriptures and the testimony of local believers. He even states that the church in Iran is now the fastest growing church in the world.

Persecution can’t stop what Christ himself is building. Read more here.

The church in Iran is now the fastest growing church in the world.

Race and The Great Commission

At a time when racial tensions in the US are extremely high, The Center for Great Commission Studies posted an article entitled “Race and the Great Commission.” The article dives headlong into those tensions to look for answers. Author Courtlandt Perkins ties racial reconciliation to what he sees as the Christian response to the gospel and, more specifically, to the Great Commission.

It’s a rather interesting approach to the problem, and certainly not without merit. Making disciples of Christ includes reconciliatory acts that demand crossing culture. Therefore, racism and the Great Commission are at odds with one another. To hold firmly to one is, by necessity, to deny the other.

Nothing about racial reconciliation is easy; it does not occur by accident. The work of reconciliation requires resolute preparation and humility. Perkins writes: “In my experience, the individuals who have dealt with these issues the best are those Christians who see the Great Commission as more than a Sunday large group discussion topic. These Christians are the type of people who are gripped by the power of Jesus’s resurrection and are compelled to go to the ends of the earth to tell the world about him.”

Perkins offers a few tips from his own experience to encourage the church to respond in a manner that is informed by Christ’s commission. You can read the full article here.

Individuals who have dealt with these issues the best are those Christians who see the Great Commission as more than a Sunday large group discussion topic.

The Poison of Vainglory

There’s an element of vainglory in all of sin—a desire to trust in ourselves and make our own way. Adam and Eve were guilty when they tried to become like God, and we who are of their bloodline share their evil desire. Giving in to its temptation, however, is detrimental to our mission.

Christian Douglas, a missionary from Sojourn Church, penned an article for the Upstream Collective called “The Poison of Vainglory” in order to address that idea. In it, he wrote of the tendency for believers to return continually to sinful lives under the law instead of abiding in Christ and walking in freedom according to the Spirit.

The temptation, then, specific to mission, is to lessen our dependency on Christ and entertain a willingness to trust in our own works. Vainglory is a rejection of the humility inherent in the act of giving one’s life and activity to Christ and joining wholly in his mission. It can both exacerbate failure and taint success within the work of ministry. It is indeed poison, and it must be eradicated.

You can read more here.