Rev. Dr. Glen Davis wrote a message called “What are we here for?” for a Mission Awareness Sunday. He was discussing the question regarding our perceptions of what missionaries do these days, and what they actually do.

These days, churches around the world ask for missionaries with special training to assist them. Dr. Rick Allen does AIDS prevention work in Kenya. Clara Henderson helps the Christians in Malawi to write down their own hymns and choruses so other churches can use them as well. Farmers from Canada share with farmers in Africa and India, ways to preserve the soil and produce better crops.

Human rights workers in Central America are, according to Dr. Davis, are missionaries. We know, of course, the difference between humanitarianism and preaching the gospel. Preaching the gospel requires putting to death the self-absorbed-life and to be self-giving and affirming of others by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we know from India, the persecution of Christians and our Christian schools and hospitals are under attack because of a new animal on the block called fundamentalist militant Hindus. This is how preaching and living the gospel ends up in what some would call a political arena.

While our thoughts are on India, let me point out there is a special WMS project to raise funds for the building of more classrooms for the Jobat Christian School. Children are sitting outside in the student overflow as well as on the other side of the road for classes. The special bulletin for that is on the WMS bulletin board in the Fellowship room. The PCC special project right now is Evangel Hall found in your bulletin.

Glen also mentions theological educators in Asia and Africa, and if we take seriously the children’s story, as we should, theological educators can also be found on playground swings.

What do you first think of when you hear the word “mission” or “missionary”? The common use of the term “mission” refers to things like space flights and military maneuvers. And if we see preaching the good news that anyone may come to the one true forgiving, merciful and just God then we have the mission message for our spiritual military maneuvers and space flights out of darkness and into the marvelous light.

Jesus showed, and continues to show us through the Holy Spirit, the way. Death has lost its sting:

O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory?
Grave where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?
Well the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is law
But he’s taken all my sin away!
Praise God. Praise God.
Praise God. Praise God.
He has done so much for me,
I cannot tell it all, cannot tell it all,
No, I cannot tell it all.
He has done so much for me
I cannot tell it all;
He’s taken all my sin away.

Let our idea of mission go beyond a definition of what has gone on in the past. Let us not rest complacent congratulating ourselves on our business of the moment. Let “mission” be the visionary liberating word it is meant to be. Embrace possibilities for the future in the moments of today and each today that comes along.

Glen continued to demonstrate from scriptures that mission is at the very heart of God, and at the top of God’s agenda.

God called Abraham and Sarah to leave their home and go to a place where they would become a blessing to all the nations of the world. That was mission. If God called you to another part of the world would you call it “mission” or “mission impossible”? Even the TV series and the movies with the name Mission Impossible only proved that the task, although hard, was possible. With God, all things are possible with the intent to bless.

Other examples abound:

  • Moses sent to Egypt to fight the enemies of Israel. Mission.
  • Joshua and Gideon called of God to be victorious over the enemies of Israel. Mission.
  • In Persia, God sent Esther into the king’s presence to reveal the plot to massacre all the Jews. Mission.
  • Many prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea were sent by God to stand up boldly before wandering, disobedient people of Israel and call them back to God. Mission.
  • God sent his Son into the world so that the world might be saved through him. Mission.
  • Jesus called disciples to leave their fishing nets and their tax collecting tables to follow him and to tell people that the kingdom of God had come among them. Mission.
  • Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” “Go into all the world and …make disciples of all nations.” “You shall be my witnesses here…and to the ends of the earth.” Mission.

So, from beginning to end, the Bible is about the God who calls, the God who sends—a missionary God. Nothing is more important to God than mission, because mission is about establishing God’s kingdom of grace and justice and peace here on earth. That is God’s goal, to have his will done on earth as it is in heaven.

The big news is this: God decided to use ordinary people like you and I to build that kingdom.

That is what the church is here for. If the church isn’t burning by the Holy Spirit in mission, it is simply burning out. Worship, Bible Study, dinners, bazaars and fellowship are only part of the mission mandate.

The WMS in fact utilizes all these elements at each monthly meeting and contribute plants for the church bazaar. Such a description, such an activity is too general. Just what exactly do we have to do to be in mission? What is our job? Well, to put it simply, our job is to work side by side with Jesus wherever he is at work.

But where do we find Jesus?

We find Jesus in the gospels, with all kinds of people, with the poor, the sick, the suffering, the outcasts and the nobodies, among the sick and tormented, and set them free. He ate dinner with sinners and prostitutes, the street people of his day. From the beginning he came right out and declared that he had come to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, give sight to the blind and liberation to the oppressed.

All too often we look for Jesus in the wrong places. He is among the hungry, thirsty, naked, refugees, sick, prisoners. We need to see the face of the little ones, those whom we usually consider the nobodies, the wretched of the earth. Are we still sitting in Pierre Burton’s Comfortable Pew? We must see Christ’s face in community food bank lines, in refugee camps, in hospital wards.

Glen Davis visited an orphanage in El Salvador in the 1980s. It was a time of war. Government troops were terrorizing peasants and farmers who wanted their fair share of food and income earned from their crops. Our church was assisting the orphanage that had been set up to receive the orphans created when soldiers assassinated their parents.

The children crowded around Glen and the other visitors, reaching up their little arms, begging to be picked up, starving for affection. One little fellow was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall; he did not move or speak or smile. Glen sat beside him. The boy had been found under his sister’s body in a village in the mountains.

The soldiers had killed everyone in the village, including the little boy’s parents and sister. He was the only survivor. He was four months old and he had not spoken a word since coming to the orphanage five months earlier, but he had smiled the day before for the first time. He crawled up to Glen’s knee and just sat there. The matron told Glen his name: “His name is HAYSOOS”, that is to say, “His name is Jesus.” Glen caught a glimpse of the face of Jesus in that boy, because Christ was there in that place of pain and tragedy.

We need to look in the hurting and neglected faces to work where Christ is working. Look for him in the eyes of that single mom trying to find enough to feed her children. Look for him in that vacant stare of that child in a Sudanese refugee camp. Look for him in the hardened face of that tough teenager who has never heard that Jesus loves her.

When you find him, join him in meeting whatever needs you see.
Jim Wallis tells the story of a soup kitchen in Washington, DC, which was run by the Sojourners community. It was a cold, miserable winter day. The night before, a man had frozen to death on their street. The destitute people were lined up outside waiting for their hot soup. The people in the kitchen always had a prayer together before opening the doors. But on this day, no one felt like praying. So Jim asked Mary Brown to pray. They held hands, and Mary prayed these words: “Lord, we know you will be coming through that line today. Help us to treat you right. Amen.”

We are here for the sole purpose of working with Christ in mission. God help us to see his face and to join him in serving his people.