Integral Mission (12 Aug 2012)

Is mission simply and solely sharing the Gospel? Or is it simply and solely doing good works in another country? I say mission must be the integration of both.

The idea of having social concern and evangelism put together is not new. If one is being brought through the Scriptures then one will realize that Christ did not neglect serving the poor, and caring for the needy while preaching about the Kingdom of God. Instead Christ quoted from Isaiah 61:1 as an introduction to His ministry. “In integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.” (Vinoth Ramachandra). When I was ministering amongst the Shan youth and children, teaching them language and helping them with their school work, I was able to proclaim Christ’s goodness to them as opportunities were opened for me to share. Similarly, whenever a Shan youth became a Christian, immediately there were social consequences because now the Shan youth must make a decision on whether he or she will take part in Shan rituals and ceremonies offered to other gods. And because of this new allegiance to Christ, the Shan youth may no longer be allowed to be a part of the community and may also have to face exile from the family and village. Therefore it is highly important to understand that there can be no clear separation between social and spiritual work in missions, and this is interlinked to one’s understanding of the Gospel, which brings me to my next point.

If our Gospel is an integrated one, how then can missions be a different message altogether? If the tree that we get our juice from is an apple tree, there can be no way we are producing anything else except apple juice. Similarly, the Gospel where we base our mission on, where we share and preach about is one that talks about social involvement and justice, how then can our mission works be absent from these. Therefore we have to first rethink the way we understand the Gospel. The Gospel is something that is positive, that brings transformation instead of conformation to the world. The Gospel is about God and His love for the world. Scriptures like Colossians 1:13-23 teaches us that Jesus is the center that pulls all aspects of life together. If this is the Gospel that we believe in, how then can we have a separatist mindset of not wanting to be involved and engaged in the world and its issues? The Gospel is not about how God can satisfy my needs, but how we are to fit in God’s much bigger redemptive plan.

To believe that the Gospel is for the world, we can no longer divorce the social with the spiritual. Being involved in mission is no longer being just good at sharing the Gospel and caring for the spiritual needs of those lost. One can be involved in mission by availing one’s skills and time to helping the needy or under privileged. Be sure that the Lord will use such acts of love to soften and open up the doors of unbelieving hearts. Let me encourage you today to make yourself available for the work of the Lord in missions!

Brother Samuel Lim