Over the past 18 months, my wife and I will have helped to mobilise 16 Adults and 6 Children to be involved in short and long-term mission. That is approximately 15% of our church family. The reason this has happened is that God has enabled us to create a culture where people can say “Yes” to Jesus, in whatever way that looks like for them. We believe that it is no more or less virtuous to serve in our nation or the nations of the world and we believe, as Christians, we’re all called to a place of service.
In February 1987, Gillian and I arrived at the Bible College of New Zealand in Auckland on a hot afternoon to start a new chapter of our lives. We’d got lost on the way which led to an argument and we arrived feeling like we had failed the first test and should turn around and head home again. The problem was that our home was now rented out and the family business that I had run for the previous 7 years had been sold. We reminded ourselves that the reason we were here was because we'd said “Yes” to Jesus to train for the next season of ministry in our lives. We thought we were training for overseas mission, where we would use our medical and horticultural skills to bring a kingdom transformation into people’s lives. Our plan was to start a family in our first year of Bible College but our first child Jonathan didn’t arrive until the end of our third year!
Over the years we have discovered that our calling is to be on mission with God wherever that may lead. We haven’t always done this perfectly and there have been mistakes and disappointments along the way, but we have always tried to say “Yes” to Jesus. At the end of our time at Bible College, we were planning to head to China or Chile when I was asked if I would teach at a Bible College and pastor a small church. It wasn’t what we had planned but we were challenged by the Call to mobilise others for mission both in New Zealand and Overseas. Over the last 27 years, we have tried to outwork that Call.
Gillian and I were asked if we would consider coming to Christchurch in August of 2009. Gillian had grown up in Christchurch and we were married there. It wasn’t great timing for us as a family for a number of reasons. For example, our son was living at home at the time and suddenly he needed to move into his first flat. However, over a 6 month period, we saw God’s answer to all our objections and in February of 2010 saying “Yes” to Jesus looked like moving to Christchurch.
Our vision coming to Christchurch has been to help people be obedient to the call of God on their lives and say “Yes” to Jesus, whether that be in our community, Nation or the Nations of the world. People should not expect to be on mission overseas if they are not on mission in their day to day living. We have found the Simply Mobilizing resource “Empowered to Influence” a valuable resource to help people be salt and light as they establish the kingdom values of righteousness, joy and peace in their world.
The challenge for Gillian and I is that these are some of our best people and by empowering them to say “Yes” to Jesus we must continue living in the vacuum created by that obedience. But our focus must always be on being willing to follow Jesus wherever he calls us. Paul writes to the church in Rome with these words:
Romans 10:14-15 (The Message)
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
Whatever saying “Yes” to Jesus looks like for you, the Kingdom of God will be established through the alignment of our actions and our words.
Questions for discussion
What does saying “Yes” to Jesus look like for you in your present circumstances?
What does it look like for you to share the Good News of Jesus with actions as well as words?
Exploring today's missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.