This is the last of the series of blog posts on the “local mission” message that I delivered on 6th September at Wilson Street Baptist Church.
Let me share with you the mission perspectives that most of us probably have encountered.
Traditional World Mission Perspective
The traditional world mission perspective, an image that many churches use in celebrating Mission Sunday or month, responds to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
We have known from the history, from our church practice, and mission sermons that the “nations” or “world” (other Bible versions) mentioned in verse mean foreign countries.
Therefore, the mission is to send missionaries to these foreign countries. To be on a mission is to go to a foreign land in fulfilment of the traditional mandate.
Now, we must take note that the “nations” mean “a tribe, nation, people group” and Matthew 28:19 did not say that these “nations” are in foreign lands only.
In Acts 1:8, Luke writes the last words of Jesus before he ascended into heaven; that we will be his witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Practical New Zealand Local World Missions Situation
New Zealand’s annual net migration gain provides the evidence of the number of nations coming to the country.
Permanent and long-term migration to New Zealand comes from the following countries: United Kingdom, Australia, Mainland China, India, South Africa, Philippines, United States, France, Germany, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Samoa, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, Ireland, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong
This brings us to the practical New Zealand local world mission perspective.
I posted the image above on our ministry website in 2018.
Considering the reality of the second image (Practical New Zealand Local World Missions Situation), does our church have a robust local world mission program?
Isn’t the situation calling for the need to send missionaries to local international communities in New Zealand now?
Doesn’t this model also fulfil the command “Go into the world” and “you shall be my witness to Judea, Samaria and into the ends of the world”?
What makes this image more practical now is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the traditional world missions. Many missionaries cannot go back to their mission areas in a foreign land because NZ closed its borders due to the epidemic.
Since the net migration in December 2019 is 43,800 from different countries of the world, can the church change its paradigm and start doing local world missions?
Busting the multicultural ministry myth
When we were starting the multicultural response ministry in 2013, a widespread comment from many church people was, “it is good that you are here to minister to your fellow countrymen because Filipinos will be more comfortable with a co-Filipino.”
If this is true, are we saying that the Kiwi missionaries in other countries are making the people they are ministering with, uncomfortable?
Now, this is a myth that stems probably from one’s desire to be comfortable or the fear of inconvenience in ministering to a migrant.
If you ask us, to whom we have been doing multicultural response ministry, we will say that it’s with everyone in the church and whoever we encounter in the community. We aren’t here to minister to Filipinos only.
Local missions that we can do
Let me share with the local mission tasks that we have been doing in the last seven years.
- Making friends and visiting the least, the lost and the lonely;
- Witnessing for Christ and organising discipleship groups;
- Providing support to newcomers in the community;
- Training and equipping leaders;
- Empowering church members;
As part of the training, equipping, and empowering, we have launched the Ministry Appreciation and Participation Toolkit.
Of course, doing local mission work is never easy, and so the total Christian ministry. We need to go outside of our comfort zone in order to pursue a growing local mission ministry.
Our Scripture text reminds us of the person who will enable us to do exceedingly and abundantly.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8