Something is happening
How do we understand the moment that we are living in? God’s mission is truly from anywhere to everywhere. In Colombia, Nigel and Richelle Webb are mentoring these young candidates for mission overseas. Leidy and Jenny are looking to go to India, Cristal to refugee ministry in Greece and Liz is a dentist with her sights on the Middle East. All hope to leave mid 2019. Another Colombian woman, Yurani, is fundraising to go to Mali to learn French before serving in Niger. She hopes to leave in April.
When Tim Halls was guest speaker at the recent Missions Interlink (NZ) AGM, he said he was struck in Revelation by the letters to the seven new gentile church communities, all in Asia Minor, where in effect Christ is saying to them that they are not mere recipients of the gospel message but are the key to the redemption that he’s bringing to the cosmos. “These are the churches where the Son of Man manifests his redeeming presence and entrusts the future.”
Halls points out that the new people of God come from the nations and, similarly today, it is they who are carrying the story forward: “These people who were not participants before, are defining the future.” In fact, “the future of the gospel is in the hands of people who aren’t even following Jesus right now.“ Halls’s personal experience is in South America, where he discovered that Christ-following churches which sent out no missionaries to the rest of the world a few decades ago, are now sending thousands.
This is increasingly repeated around the world, where places we thought of as the ‘receiving’ countries of mission work are sending people out, even to New Zealand. At the moment NZCMS (Church Missionary Society) has facilitated 13 Kenyan pastors/workers mainly from Nairobi and Mamlaka Chapels to find placements in New Zealand. It’s going well. Nairobi Chapel is keen to partner with a local church or church planting movement in New Zealand to plant an inter-cultural church in Auckland or elsewhere in the country and to send teams from Nairobi to minister here.
It might surprise you to know that about 10% of people living in the resort town of Queenstown are South American, with workers in the hospitality industry, banking and the professions. And for the past few years there have been two congregations there which have pastors from Brazil – one meets in an Assemblies of God church, the other in a Presbyterian church.
“We can’t map out our path. We follow,” says Halls. “In this world that God loves, the Spirit works to produce the changes that disrupt our path and show us the way.” And this kind of gospel sensitivity doesn’t begin with some fresh idea we might have thought up about how to do missions. It begins in what we experience in actual, real events that God is orchestrating; where we didn’t expect to go, with people we thought didn’t belong, Halls says.
“We are all drawn into the gravitational pull of the Messiah who redefines all of us as the story unfolds. He uses other people to change us… It’s a story in which we have to find our place” in the current chapter of the unfolding promise to Abraham that culminates in blessing all the families of the earth.
“And we have to figure out where we fit in. That’s our challenge,” Tim Halls concludes. —Zoë Cromwell