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 recently that we think add to that conversation, so we’d like to interact with them and share them with you.
The following video has garnered some attention on our social media channels this past week. It’s a short clip from a sermon preached by IMB President David Platt on the cost of reaching the unreached. Take a look, and then read on below.
My Neighbor Ate My Dog, And I’m Sad
Counting the cost is a daily reality for many Christians around the world who are engaging the unreached with the glorious gospel of Jesus. That cost comes in different forms in different contexts, from experiencing the difficulty of fitting into a new culture, to the reality of being ostracized from a social group for believing the gospel, to fear of execution for simply placing faith in Christ.
One missionary recently wrote about giving something up in a very strange way as he experienced the loss of a family pet in a rather unorthodox manner. Dave Hare, a missionary in Cameroon, shared his story as a poignant reminder of the difficulty of crossing cultures for the gospel, even in the most ordinary experiences. He learned that his family dog had been killed by a car driven by a neighbor, the same neighbor who then asked if he could take the dog home to eat it.
Hare wrote, “When asked about the sacrifices he’d made as a missionary, it’s reported David Livingstone replied, ‘I never made a sacrifice.’ In light of Christ’s sacrifice for us, I understand what he means. Besides, everything belongs to God. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. In reality, though, there is a cost. I’d freely give away a thousand dogs to see one Bakoum saved, but that doesn’t mean we ought to consider our sacrifices as trivial or nonexistent.”
Sacrifices will be made in order to get the gospel to those who’ve not heard it. As Platt said in his sermon and Hare wrote in his article, they will be worth it. Even so, the very real sacrifice of those who are going must not be overlooked. Read more of Dave’s story here.
I’d freely give away a thousand dogs to see one Bakoum saved, but that doesn’t mean we ought to consider our sacrifices as trivial or nonexistent.
St. Paul, Missionary to the Reached?
Certainly, Paul’s life and missionary journeys displayed his desire to fulfill his words in Romans 15:20. He wanted to preach the gospel among people who had never heard it, so he set out on multiple missionary journeys to that end.
Yet along the way, though he wanted to reach those people who had not heard, Paul never forgot about the churches that sprang up in the places he went. He toiled away at the pastoral task while engaging in that of the pioneer missionary. In fact, writes A.J. Gibson on the Reaching & Teaching blog that the two were inextricably tied for Paul.
Paul exemplified a commitment to reaching the unreached and raising them up to maturity in Christ. And he developed others who would do the same. He created a cycle of reaching the unreached, training them in the faith, and equipping them to reach others. Paul, the one many often equate with the pioneer missionary task, spent much of his time focused on the pastoral task within the church. Read more from A.J. here.
Paul exemplified a commitment to reaching the unreached and raising them up to maturity in Christ.
4 Lessons We Should Learn from 19th Century Missionaries
Missions history often is an undervalued field of study. I don’t mean knowing a few names and the places missionaries have served. I mean a robust understanding of how missions has played out, from the early church to present day—not simply for the sake of knowledge but in order for our current efforts to be informed by it.
Travis Meyers, an associate professor of church history and missions studies at Bethlehem College and Seminary, pointed out such an occasion for us to learn from missions history. The Serampore Form of Agreement. Sounds exciting, right?
The agreement was a document adopted by a group of missionaries (including William Carey) in 1805 that was to shape missionary practice. Meyers pointed out four valuable insights from the agreement that should continue to shape current missionary practice. In his view:
- Missionaries should evangelize out of compassion and urgency.
- Missionaries should contextualize to avoid cultural offense and gain confidence.
- Missionaries should aim to gather converts into faithful indigenous churches.
- Missionaries must give sacrificially of themselves.
You can read in more detail here.