In light of his love, God sends people to take this good news to others. God sent his son and his son sent his disciples (John 20:21). The idea of being sent is picked up in the Apostle Paul’s teaching that we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5.20) It is not only the bible that speaks of us being sent, it is also written in our hearts as children of God who know mission is in the DNA of Christians.
However, we are not all sent overseas. When Jesus was about to go across Lake Galilee in a boat, overseas, the demoniac he had saved wanted to go with him. We read, Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:18–20) The mission field for this man, the place where Jesus sent him with the good news was to go home to his family. Home is where many of us are sent. Our mission field is our family, our neighbourhood, and our region. The Samaritan woman told the people of her town about Jesus. Think of Martha who simply opened her home to Jesus or Lydia who having found faith opened her home to Paul. Recall the Ethiopian Eunuch who heard the good news from Philip and who took this truth home to his own people. If we only see the big names in the bible story we miss the ordinary people like ourselves who God used in what we might consider ordinary ways.
Recently Melanie shared some of her life story with us, including the idea that she initially thought, coming to NZ God must have something extraordinary for her to do in life. However, she found her ministry in the midst of what we often consider ordinary - at home, with family, in the local community, in the workplace and in the church. She pointed out the “extra” which was added to the ordinary was being Christians who are: Established in the faith, eX-pectant of what God can do, Teachable to learn and grow, Realistic about the life they live, and Available to God wherever they live. When we bring this extra to our ordinary lives, then God is able to use and transform the everyday ordinary aspects of life. Jesus taught the parables of the yeast and the mustard seed, both small almost imperceptible to indicate how God uses even what may seem of no account.
God also sends some people overseas. There continues to be a need and a place for people to be called by God to work in other places and cultures. We think of our missionaries Matthew and Alison providing education in Zambia through Limapela Foundation. We also support mission in Asia and other regions. We give 12% of our offerings to support global mission. The passage in Acts 2 lists ancient regions which we know today as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Italy, Crete, Saudi Arabia and North Africa. This is a vast area representing different cultures and languages. This list indicates God’s love for the people of the world and his desire that they should all hear the gospel. When Peter preached that day over 3000 people came to faith in Jesus. It is likely that some of them were from the regions mentioned and that they would have taken the good news about Jesus home with them.
At Greyfriars we are committed to supporting global mission. The earliest recorded missionary from Greyfriars was Miss Catherine Gillanders, a nurse, who undertook mission in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) around 1956. Judith’s length of service - thirty years is very commendable. We acknowledge Judith’s faithfulness to God, and mission work for over thirty years, and note the new phase of life and mission as she retires from OMF.
We are also committed to mission here in Auckland where we live – and you are the missionaries God sends. Each person here connects to a family, a neighbourhood, perhaps a workplace or a sports team. Our mission as a church is simply to help people know and follow Jesus. As we do this among the people we mix with, God’s kingdom comes, and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
- How long have you known Judith and what impresses you about her mission service in Taiwan?
- What do you understand by Eugene Peterson’s idea of discipleship as A long obedience in the same direction? What is your experience of “long obedience”?
- What do you find interesting/challenging about the ideas our congregation came up with regarding being missionaries sent to Auckland?
- Do you agree that mission is founded in the love of God? Why or why not? What other godly foundations might support mission?
- Why do you think Jesus sent the man delivered from demons home to his family rather than allowing him to go with him?
- How do you think the idea of being sent applies to Christians in general?
- What is the “extra” that can add to the “ordinary” things of your life? How does this help God’s kingdom to come?
Rev John Malcolm