Together in Partnership
I told you last week that there is a project of translating the Bible in their tribal languages. It has been translated into two languages and they will do two more translation in the future. Each translation project costs U$100,000. One person donated U$100,000 and U$300,000 were raised. The Rev. Ohm said he would donate again. There are a lot of good and generous people in the world.
People in Madagascar couldn’t do this alone. We need a partnership. This world is deeply connected. It is not that western countries do the mission for the developing countries. The attitude of colonial mission should not be the model we should follow any more. We work together in partnership, using each other’s strengths and resources. People in Madagascar are doing much better in terms of mission than those who live in North America. But they need financial resources. So we help them and enable them to do what they do well. We are enablers. We have to look at mission in a new way. It is true that there had been many problems with the idea of mission traditionally. But Jesus’ Great Commission is still important to us.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19)
Matthew 28:18-20 is often called the Great Commission. It is a term coined by the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who said,
The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.
Just as the sun does not forget a village just because it is small, we do not want to ignore the people of any small language group who have not heard the gospel. That’s why we wanted to translate the Bible in their tribal languages. When I was a chair of the Asian Centre at Knox, there was a man who was translating the Bible into Hakka tribe in Taiwan.
This Bible is specifically edited to reflect African situation in their commentaries and a little stories. The Rev. Ohm’s name is written in the first page. Because this project was done by Leadership International which helps many African projects. The leader of the Leadership International came to Madagascar last year and he had a heart attack. We all prayed for his safety. With God’s help, he was Ok.
Gifts From God
The Great Commission is a precious statement. It is what gives us the purpose of life. Because of this Great Commission, we have come to know Jesus Christ, and believe in him, and have eternal life. There were people who took this Commission seriously enough that they gave their lives to fulfill this Commission. That was how the good news came to us. We owe them.
St. Paul lived with this indebted feeling. This was what he said.
I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish… (Romans 1:14)
Of course, he didn’t borrow money from them. He is a debtor of God’s grace and his way of paying back the debt was to share the gospel with Greeks and barbarians, the wise and the foolish. He lived his life with this indebted feeling.
Yes, we are all debtors. God has provided so much for us. All the good things that we enjoy – we have received from God. Material wealth, our children, our health, our good living condition, our security. Not only that. Peace we feel. Love that we experience. Forgiveness that we enjoy. The hope for the eternal life. These are all free gifts from God.
We don’t need to pay back. But deep in our heart, we have this appreciation. That appreciation is what Paul was talking about. He was so appreciative that he said he was a debtor. I think that is the best way to describe our deep appreciation. Yes, we are debtors.
Not because we have to pay back, but we want to pay back out of gratitude. Those who are in difficult situations. We are debtors to them. Those who are experiencing injustice in life. We are debtors to them. The natural environments that was destroyed and exploited because of human greed. We are debtors to them. Those who don’t know the good news. We are debtors to them.
People in Madagascar live with that attitude. I thanked them personally for taking time out and helping me. They always said, No I thank you. They live with this indebtedness. And they all took this Commission seriously. I could see that. They gave their life to carry out this Commission. My translator was so happy seeing the students learning so much and he told me what students told him with excitement.
Entitlement attitude should not be a Christian attitude. I am having what I am entitled to have. I am enjoying things that I am entitled to enjoy. That is not a Christian attitude. The attitude of indebtedness should be a Christian attitude. The disciples carried out the Great Commission with this indebted feeling.
We sing this song.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
Even if we have a thousand tongues, it is not enough to praise God with them. That is the indebtedness.
This great commission is the honour to keep, not a burden to carry.
David Livingstone, who spent his life as a medical missionary and explorer of Africa, said,
If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honour, how can a commission by a heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?
The fact we can live a missional life is our honour. It is our privilege.
I won’t say it will be always easy. At times, it may be difficult.
But this is what Jesus promised.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Jesus promised that he would be with us. It is the inner presence of Christ that motivates us, empowers us, and provides us with the energy. It is the best way to experience the presence of Christ. You do mission and you will experience the presence of Christ.
Being a Christian means to be a disciple. Discipleship means basically following Christ. To follow Christ, you have to know what Christ wants from you. Have a relationship with Christ. Daily walk with him. Then you will be able to know what Christ wants from you.
There is a proverb from Cote d’Ivoire
No tree produces fruit without first producing flowers.
In the same way, your relationship with Christ has to flourish first, then you can see the fruit of knowing what Christ wants from you.
Don’t follow your common sense. Don’t follow your feelings. Don’t follow others. Don’t follow your instincts.
Follow Christ. Know his words. Let Christ shape you.
I heard that there are 22 people going to Sioux Valley. I heard that 14 people registered last Sunday.
When you go there, go with the indebted attitude. Listen to them. Listen to their hurt and pain. Listen to the injustice they experienced. Be in solidarity with them. Show them that they are not alone. There are people who care.
Build relationship with Christ. Daily walk with Christ. He will shape you. He will let you know what you need to do.
Life is about following Christ. Don’t waste your life, chasing after illusive dreams. Follow Christ. Fix your eyes upon Christ. He will show you the way to the fullness of life. You will become much happier. You give what you have but it is mystery that you become fuller. You give but you receive much more than what you give. That is what spiritual life is. Find the secret of spiritual life. Mission has to come from this spiritual life. Mission is a channel of God blessing us.