We are often asked why are you going twice a year on four month short-term missions trips to China to teach? “Why go off to some faraway place? It’s such a burden!”
We are immensely grateful for our ministry partners and friends and their support making it all possible. But burden? Hardly! In the service of the King, nothing is worth enough to be counted as a burden or sacrifice. He is worth everything we have out of the wealth that He gave us and we need to step out in faith.
But back to the question, “Why missions?” First, because that’s what God told us to do in His commandments:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
It says in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands” then that’s what we should do.
“Why not serve here? The needs are also great at home with almost every ethnic group right here at our doorsteps.”
A very valid question. But as we’ve explained before, it is because of the very inequitable distribution of supply versus demand. The needs are great everywhere, but the resources available to meet those needs have a very skewed distribution. In round terms, for every 100 church goers in the USA, there is 1 Christian worker, including pastors, youth and children’s workers etc. But in China the ratio of congregation to ministry staff is 10,000 to 1, 100 times greater than at home. If you compare the ratio of the unchurched to Christian workers, the ratio is even greater, because the Christian population as a % of total population in China is very small. Now if you see people needing assistance, one serving 100 and the other serving 10,000, who do you help? For us, the answer is clear, the latter, even though it means some inconvenience and getting a little out of the comfort zone.
“Why teach over there? The standard of people here is much higher; they’ll comprehend and appreciate it more.”
Good question. I have a business management background and since we always labor with limited resources we look for opportunities where we have the greatest leverage to maximize returns. In our mandate from the Lord, the command is to make “disciples.” How do you make disciples of all nations? According to Matthew 28:19-20 by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” In other words, by incorporating them into the Body of Christ, and teaching them to obey and love the Lord. Praising God, praying incessantly and being good stewards are important, but they won’t help us fulfill our mandate.
“Why over in China?” It’s back to the supply issue. But more importantly, it is the “obedience” that counts. It is true that in general Christians at home are more highly educated and better about to understand concepts, but to obey has to do with the will and the heart, not the mind. We rather teach 100 with primary education who are ready and willing to obey, than 10,000 who are not prepared to commit. That’s why we connect with motivated people who are ready to put what they learned into practice. We believe it’s only by teaching the whole truth and discipling them that we can achieve “spiritual multiplication” to get the job done.
Spiritual addition in ministry is when someone wins other people to Christ, but does not disciple, train, and deepen those converts to go out and do likewise. We are commanded to go and make disciples, not simply converts.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
If you led a thousand people to Christ every year for 36 years, taking each one through basic follow up, how many people would you have reached with the gospel? Answer: 36,000. However, if you led three people to Christ, discipled them, and trained each one to reach three other people, and everyone that was discipled in turn reached three other people each year, then when we multiply the process out over 36 years the number of disciples becomes 1,048,576. That’s exponential growth. That’s “spiritual multiplication.”
This seems to be what the Lord had in mind in the Great Commission, as it makes the completion of the task feasible as it’s doubtful that Jesus expected His disciples to keep up a case load of one thousand disciples a year.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16
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