Earlier this year, I started highlighting the theme of serviceability, pointing out that there are many ways Christians can be subservient to God. I also focused a little on the serviceability of the woman with the alabaster flask from the Bible. This month, I put the spotlight on missionaries and missionary activities.
“Apostolos” is the Greek word in the New Testament that is sometimes translated as “apostle”, but simply means “sent”. That is why we speak of “missionaries” – people sent out to preach the gospel to the nations. Missionary work is one of the oldest forms of ministerial work, and the Apostle Paul is widely regarded as the first missionary to travel to other countries and cultural groups to spread the gospel. He was certainly not a flawless man. Paul of Tarsus was the one who purposefully persecuted and killed the Christians before his conversion, and many never forgave him for that. Paul’s missionary work began when he began his preaching among the Gentiles in Antioch, after which a divine command instructed him to go and preach the gospel in other countries as well. Remains of the churches that Paul founded in his time can still be seen in Turkey (formerly Asia Minor).
God does not use perfect people when He instructs them. God uses ordinary people with mistakes who have a willing heart and a love for people. Missionary work has been a common occurrence in Biblical times and Jesus himself set the best example for us.
We find the most important instruction in this regard in Matthew 28: 19-20, the so-called “Great Commission”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Because we cannot read this text in the Greek language, it is often misunderstood. There are four important verbs in this passage: “Go”, “make disciples”, “baptize”, and “teach”. All but “make disciples” are verbs that indicate an action you are performing while doing something else – almost secondary verbs. Such verbs are not necessarily the main idea in the sentence. This means that the remaining “normal” verb, “make disciples”, is the most prominent or central thought of the great commission. The making of disciples happens while we are walking around (including the nations), and also includes people being baptized and being taught all that is necessary to eventually live like mature disciples.
Traditionally, we have focused on “going” in the text, which has given us the false impression that missionary work only really takes place if you are willing to go to distant places like the Amazon or exotic Africa. However, this interpretation helps us to understand that the main purpose of missionary work is to make mature disciples while we go, teach, and baptize. So, true missionaries are not just people who risk their lives to be serviceable as many of the historical missionaries did. Missionaries are also not just pastors, elders, and deacons. No, every believer is a missionary and everyone has been given the task of doing missionary work among unbelievers – to preach the gospel and make disciples in your area. The Great Commission also includes the prayer and financial support of organizations doing missionary work among other nations.
FEBA Radio South Africa works with FEBC International (Far East Broadcasting Company) to spread the gospel in the most unreachable countries and to help change people’s lives. You can become our partner by getting involved in our projects and telling others about the work we do. FEBA / FEBC has a service record of more than 76 years and the sheer amount of feedback received annually from around the world indicates unequivocally that we do make a major difference.
Missionary work changes a person’s life. If you cannot go on a mission, you can still reach out and do your part in the important work. You can make it possible for someone else to go or support successful outreaches financially. We kindly invite you to support our mission work. If you want to help strengthen our hands, please visit our website www.febaradio.co.za to learn more about us and read the heartwarming testimonies.
Kind regards until next time.
Dr Jurie Vermeulen
National Director: FEBA Radio SA