Last fall, Timberline Church helped sponsor a Perspectives On Missions 15-week course with future sessions being planned. One attendee—a 71-year-old former missionary and sole caregiver for her 96-year-old mother—signed up for the course, then took the plunge to complete the work at the Certificate level. In addition to the weekly teachings and reading assignments, Gwen Kovac also completed several written responses that were graded.
Gwen offered to share pieces of those assignments as a glimpse into how delving into the call of missions through the class material touched and transformed her heart.
“When I started this course I had no idea what it really was…I was concerned that it would be impossible to keep up with the reading and the assignments…I spend hours reading and answering the questions of the review. However, my joy with studying the Word of God through a different Perspective has enlightened me and opened up a new world to the Scripture.
My prayer is that my passion for God and His purpose will never diminish but that it will greatly ignite and that my heart will rejoice by the things that rejoice the heart of God…I see and hear such strange things that churches call missions. I am not sure that worship is the object? Do we give God the glory? It appears that money and projects are the main interest. Are we seeking to instantly propagate the gospel as seen in the fly-by-day, evangelize-by-night, and leave the interested or new converts behind efforts? That doesn’t complete the mandate Christ has given us. Where is the movement of baptized and obedient disciples capable of evangelizing their entire people?
(The story of) Hudson Taylor impacts me…Hudson was convinced that the Great Commission was not given only to those in Jesus’ time…At the age of 21, he embarked for Shanghai (China) where he was disappointed in the lifestyle/ministry of the coastland missionaries and within less than one year he left for the interior where he felt the need for taking God’s love and God’s word was greater…chose to dress like the people he wanted to reach, learned their language…encouraged others to be lay missionaries without the university degrees expected of missionaries in those days…he trusted God because he was a man of faith…was not a lone ranger type missionary…didn’t become bitter over the time spent away from China, instead he saw God’s hand preparing him and getting him ready for the many willing to go to China…Within 20 years, there was one missionary in every province in China. He lived long enough to see 800 missionaries in China and Mongolia.
The “Task Remaining” of this century requires prayer warriors of obedience and action to worship God, ask for His will to be done, and bring His glory and blessings to all the people…We must respect the way people identify themselves at any particular time. And it is true that it may scramble our categories or lists of people groups. As those who take God’s blessing we must build bridges between multilingual, multiracial groups, the churched and the unchurched, the poor and the rich…My personal concern is that our strategies can become a scientific method without seeking God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. People become objects, numbers of the goal-oriented person and the cry “No man cares for my soul” is only a cry from history…If only mission agencies would not pull effective missionaries away from “reached groups” but rather mobilize many new missionaries from the rapidly expanding global Church.
On the idea of building cross-cultural belonging and communication: I wish that missionaries would “humanize” their water, building, and slum projects. For whom and why are they raising money? People are not a project. They are made in the image of God. They are not just a classification for some missiologist or ethnic study. I have had tribal people tell me “thank you for not sitting there with a notebook studying us and writing about every move we make as if we were monkeys. You love us”…To be a missionary is not just to go on an adventure trip whether a week or for years. It is the most fun, fulfilling life of God’s victories even in death. Lord, here I am, use me, spend me!
On the idea of missions strategies: Could I become so focused on my missional strategies that I forget that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and calls man to repentance? Who does the work of transformation?… Does wanting to become like the people we love lead us into syncretism and we forget that it is God’s love not ours that will save them? Do we get so caught up in our motives, in our desires to make others become believers that we actually interfere and damage the people’s cultures? Are we so goal oriented in “our mission” that we leave out the very One of interest, the One who called us?…I am thrilled to think of the viable indigenous church as the organic church.
How can I fear to go wherever He might lead me? If God can shut the mouths of lions, if God can cause communism to open the doors of blessing and freedom of worship for the peoples of Mongolia…He will take care of me. His Word will be carried around the world by those willing to spend their lives for Our Father, the God of Abraham.”
As you ponder the thoughts of one woman who was stretched to view missions in a new way and begin to pray and respond accordingly, ask if God is calling you to learn more of His heart for the world? Discover more ways to get involved locally, nationally, and globally during the upcoming Missions Focus and consider signing up for the Perspectives class the next time it is offered.