15 May Trail of obedience. . . Holistic Mission
Careful reading of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation reveals God’s heart for Mission to bring back His creation to fellowship with Him.
Eddy Ho, the evangelist says “God was the first ever missionary when in Genesis 3:8 he went out in search of two sinners who had rebelled against Him in order to bring them back into fellowship with Him.” He also says, “Since God is a missionary God, God’s people are a missionary people.”
The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” – Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia.
God is concerned about our whole being as it is clearly expressed when Jesus told about Christ’s mission to the disciples of John the Baptist in Luke 7:22 (ESV) “… Go and tell John what you have
seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” Jesus reached out to the sinners, the sick, the hungry, the untouchables, those rejected by the society, the poor and the needy….. We too are called to actively address the challenges faced by our society.
Here is Kennedy Dhanabalan, the Executive Director of Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission On Relief. (EFICOR) sharing his calling and mission…..
“I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior through the work of Union of Evangelical Students of India (UESI). While growing in the Lord during my college days, I became ill and was hospitalized for 42 days. The doctors gave no hope. During that time I made a commitment to the Lord that if
He gives me life then I will serve Him till the end of my life. I got my life and there was no turning back from that time onwards. But the clarity I needed was in where I should serve the Lord and how (what work) could I serve the Lord.
While praying in 1984, God gave me the burden to move to Bihar where I had gone to play Basketball representing my State in 1978. During that trip I met some of the tribal people and one Tamil person in that place who shared about the lives of the tribal people. That time I did not have any feelings. But when I prayed to the Lord to show me the place He reminded me of my trip to Bihar. So I started praying that the Lord will take me to Bihar. So ‘where to serve?’ was clear but the question remained was on ‘how should I serve the Lord?’
Recognizing my inadequateness, I went to Union Biblical Seminary (UBS) Pune to do my theological studies to equip myself with skills and knowledge required for the ministry. During my studies I came across Dr. Christopher Wright who taught me the Old Testament. He opened my eyes to
have a wholistic understanding on Mission.
I have received the clear mandate of saving the soul as mission from the teaching I have received from UESI staff and from missionaries of Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) laying the foundation from Matthew 28: 18 – 20. Dr. Wright had emphasized that the Lord is also concerned for the physical wellbeing of the people and especially for the poor.
In his teaching Dr. Wright taught us that God’s character would define His expectations on us on how we should lead our life and what we must do. If He is a loving God, He expects us to show love to all people. If He is a God who is Compassionate, He expects us to be compassionate. If He is a Caring God, then He expects us to care for others also. He is holy and He expects us to be holy. If He is a Just God, that means He wants to do things justly and bring justice. He emphasized that the God of justice expects us to be involved in acts of justice. (When we search for just/justice Bible gateway web portal shows 568 words present in the Bible).
He showed us caring for poor and needy is a just act and is
an important part of mission. The Lord punished Sodom not only for their immoral acts but because they did not care for the poor (Ezekiel 16: 49, 50). He also explained the reasons for Israel being sent into captivities. The accusation was not only on serving other gods but also that they did not care for the poor. As per the law in Exodus 22: 26, 27, they have to return the cloak taken as pledge by the evening so that the poor can cover themselves. But when they violated the law, the Lord brings it against them as a reason for sending them into exile in Amos 2: 8.
He added that Jesus also gave emphasis on his teachings to care for the poor (Matthew 19: 21). Jesus even went to an extent saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25: 31f). He also added that the pillars of the church James, Peter and John, reminded Paul to remember the poor (Galatians 2: 10) because of the teaching, which they have received from the Old Testament and from Jesus. It did talk to me too that I should remember the poor in my mission and realized that God is
concerned for the whole person and the mission is wholistic in its nature.
However, my joining with EFICOR was not because of my missiological understanding but because of God’s plan. A choice meeting (surely was God’s plan) with Mr. C. B. Samuel, the then Executive Director of EFICOR in 1988 made me to join EFICOR. While working with EFICOR my theological understanding got further strengthened on wholistic mission. Mr. C.B. Samuel said, “Compassion is not the flow of a heart; but is the act of a heart filled with Justice (Isaiah 30: 18). When we see justice being denied to people our heart should flow with Compassion and show mercy”. While I also say like Paul “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” and have been part of the pastoral team in my church (Living Faith Cornerstone Church, Vikaspuri, New Delhi), I work with poor because they have been denied justice and God wants us to be involved in addressing the issues of justice. God has given me the burden to share the vision of wholistic understanding in mission to the churches around and be involved. This I have been doing since 1989 onwards.
God also fulfilled the vision he gave me to serve in the State of Bihar. I was seconded to FMPB to serve among the Malto tribes in Sahibganj district, which now falls in Jharkhand State. I worked there for almost 7 years ensuring wholistic development of the community. Having the wholistic understanding on mission I am continuing my journey in fulfilling His Mission.”
As God’s people, are we willing to join Christ’s mission of
reconciling and restoring lives to Him?
1. Kennedy Dhanabalan, ‘My witness’ unpublished write up received on 22.01.2015.
2. http://www.billygraham. info/quotes/mission-quotes-eddy- ho/ accessed on 23/02/2015 2.11pm
3. http://www.historymakers. info/stuff/inspirational-quotes. html acessed on 12/17/2014 9:14 PM