A Wide Gospel: Thoughts on Missions

A Wide Gospel: Missions as Justice for the Poor

A Nearby Township

A Nearby Township

We recently flew out of South Africa with the faces of people we had met in our minds, and conversations ringing in our ears, and so I began to write a few fairly disconnected thoughts about what missions should look. now that we had truly had an extended and raw picture of who the people of Africa are and where they are at as a people group. I’ve included it below, not to say I have the answers necessarily, but to start a conversation with you all about really thinking through what missions might look like in South Africa.

What Does it Look like…

Much of our thinking as we approached going into “missions” was asking the question of ourselves “What does it look like to be the people of God FOR the World?” We believe that God has a radical plan, not only to set up Churches but to see those communities transform the society around them, not by calling the world in, but by predominantly going out. We believe that Christians have a call not just to be in the spheres of society but to be at the fore of those sphere’s harnessing the God given creativity that comes from a relationship with the creator of the Universe.

The Problem and how the church reveals the solution…

Masiphumelele

Masiphumelele

Although not fully aware of the extent, we in the west, are fully aware of the problems facing the world, poverty and disease are good words to centre those on. Unfortunately we as the people of God have also been infected with the worlds attitude that there is very little to be done, and therefore the best option is not to think about it too much. But God is waking us all up, we have an incredible ability to see injustices such as poverty and disease not only lessened but solved. The Church at its best has been at the front of these causes, it has incarnated (which is a posh theological word for embodied) God’s heart to be the voice of the voiceless and to see the captives set free. Once we have spent some time with the poor, learnt their names, shared out lives with them, it is no longer enough just to feed them a meal, and see nothing in their life change to life them out the poverty they are in, even worse to introduce them to a non-biblical concept of a Jesus who only cares about souls but not about the realities of life.

After a while God begins creating new heart in us for these people, a heart that longs for justice, a heart which says we should live in a world where when a man works, he works for wages that allow him to have a place to live and food to eat, and friends to enjoy. That is why we think mission in our world today looks like justice.

Business as Missions…

Much of the injustice in our world at the moment is created by systems of financial movement which marginalize the poor, and perpetuate their status as the poor. There is a space which is beginning to be filled in missions for business, business not just to raise money for missions, not just to connect with people to introduce them to have a conversation about Jesus, but create business and disciple business people to see the Kingdom of God break into the every day transactions that involve whole communities, so that people not only hear the gospel of words, but can respond to a gospel in action.

The need for people to see the work of their hands come into fruitfulness…

The west has been involved in a lot of Aid in Africa over the last few decades and Aid can be vital in emergency situations, but often it can be an unhelpful crutch that has kept people poor through dependence. We believe that a more biblical imagination for sustainably freeing people from poverty is to give people the tools, in terms of how they think about themselves, their actions and communities. Through discipleship, you can empower someone in a sustainable way to lift themselves out of poverty, and through individuals, disciple families, communities and nations.

Revealing the supremacy of God in all things…

Local Xhosa boys outside the prayer house

Local Xhosa boys outside the prayer house

When we show the world a God who is genuinely interested and involved in every area of their lives, a God that Loves them, wants to see them lifted out of oppressive poverty through the work of their own hands, we will reach people who gave up on Church a long time ago as a lesson in “pew-filling irrelevance”.

We get to play a part…

As we were thinking about these ideas and what part we can play, we were aware that in choosing to follow Jesus with our lives we give them up in baptism to God, he gives them back to us to see God’s Kingdom come from heaven to earth. That means we get to expend our energies, our youthfulness, our enthusiasm, our lives on a cause that will exist for an eternity. What an Opportunity!

4 Comments on “A Wide Gospel: Thoughts on Missions

  1. Liam you have such a gift of putting thoughts and ideas into writing and in a way that people can understand and hits them at heart level! I was totally tearing up reading this! YES AND AMEN!!!!!!!!

  2. Pingback: Transform Business | Liam and Rachel Byrnes

  3. You nailed it. I’m excited to see your new ideas after a year or so in Africa! I think you’ll have many more thoughts that expand on this.

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