Praise God for the dawning of a new year. 2022 offers new challenges and possibilities for the Missio Dei.
The early disciples, filled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, spread the Message of redemption, reconciliation and restoration in Christ across vast lands and stormy seas in an almost insatiable manner. Alongside the kergma [i.e. proclamation], the converts were taught the Word of God [didache] through the process of contextualisation that made the Message relevant to the prevailing culture and heritage.
While the disciples’ missiological endeavours conquered old mindsets and brought about a new and fresh understanding of the Kingdom of God, they also faced fierce opposition and hostile resistance. Through the ages, the pages of missiological enterprise in places and communities unfavourable towards the Gospel revealed sadly the price of propagating one’s faith, including the messengers’ martyrdom, e.g. Stephen, Peter and Paul, to name just a few. Notwithstanding that, the spirit of mission continued unabated.
The hymn writer Frederick W. Faber (1814–63) penned the spirit of those who remained faithful and persisted through fiery trials:
Faith of our fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy.
Whenever we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers; holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Today, the Gospel has penetrated every conceivable nation on this planet. We praise God for missionaries, pastors, preachers, tent makers, churches and mission organisations that relentlessly spread the Good News.
The Methodist Missions Society (MMS) continues to play her role in mobilising the Methodist community to collaborate and support the twin strategy of church planting and community development in this region with a single focus on lives being impacted by the love of Christ and their transformation serving to lead their families, communities and nations to the Lord too!
Our Lord Jesus proclaimed: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Matt 9:38). According to the Joshua Project, out of a world population of 7.84 billion, 41.8 per cent remain unreached.1 And a significant percentage is found in our region! Will you pray about God’s call to go and share the Good News? Will you commit resources to advance the Kingdom of Christ to the least, lost and last? Will you prepare yourself to act decisively in response to God’s invitation to “tell it to the nations”?
Practically speaking, due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it might not be feasible to visit the fields that we are fairly used to. Nevertheless, we can provide resources for churches to do digital missions.
For example, in partnership with Living Hope Methodist Church (LHMC), a digital missions trip was held between Gen4C, the Youth ministry at LHMC, and Song Roi Phee Preaching Point@Thailand. The objective of the digital missions trip was to simulate a missions trip which included cultural exchange, exposure and meeting a need in the community.
The Gen4C youth and the youth at Song Roi Phee had a wonderful time of fellowship and games, sharing stories of their culture and learning from one another despite the language barrier. The Gen4C youth took ownership in leading games, conducting English lessons and hosting the session. We thank Ps Watit, the Pastor-in-Charge of the Preaching Point, and his wife for helping with the translation and sharing a devotion during this digital mission trip.
This trip’s takeaway is that missions is still possible even with the pandemic going on in the field. There are still possibilities to explore in this digitalised world to continue touching lives and advancing the Gospel.
Also, a first MMS Training Committee facilitated interactions between Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church (QCMC) Missions and Young Adult leaders as well as the COSY youth@Cambodia. The online befriending programme spanning eight weeks in nine small groups of four or five (COSY youths between Grades 10 to 12 and QCMC young adults) for an hour each week produced benefits far beyond our imagination.
We thank God for His amazing grace and the diligent efforts of QCMC Young adults who were highly creative in engaging and building relationships with the Cambodian youths through games, music, quizzes and more. While they learnt about Cambodian culture, they empowered varied aspects of learning with different talking points each week. The COSY youths gave positive feedback on how they learnt to be courageous and overcome fear in sharing; to be honest and become more self-aware; to trust, respect and value others as well as to forgive, exercise self-control, make decisions and be a leader.
In other words, while doors are closed in the traditional ways of doing missions, new doors have opened for the people of God.
As MMS celebrates her 30th anniversary, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness in leading us through the seasons of growth and maturity. I challenge you to seek God’s heartbeat for the world and welcome you to come alongside in developing new and creative avenues to reach the vast unreached peoples for Christ!
Rev Derrick Lau is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society (MMS). / Photos courtesy of MMS