Scripture Reading: 20:21
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
The church is made for mission. The word Mission has been co-opted (to appropriate as one’s own) by the military. The military is synonymous with mission. Every military assignment comes with a mission. A pastor of a Baptist Church shared this, ‘As most of you know, prior to my coming on staff here at Redland, I served a brief stint in the Army National Guard. I was a chaplain assigned to a M.A.S.H. unit based in Newport, Delaware. Now one thing I learned very quickly in my first few weeks as a ‘weekend warrior’ was that our M.A.S.H unit had a mission. It was clearly defined and everything we did revolved around our fulfilling that mission. And we spent every minute of every drill on weekend; training, so that we would be ready and able to accomplish this mission.
Every hotel has a mission statement on its wall. And every businesses seem to have one (their mission is); promising good service. The Word ‘mission’ means ‘sent’. The word ‘mission’ comes from the Latin word ‘mittere’ (close to the word military) and was used to translate the Greek word ‘apostelein’. It gives us the word ‘apostle’ the one who was sent. So the apostles were militant warrior who were the ones that were sent. Honestly I was skeptical when many people say Pastor Lily and I have the apostolic anointing. The word Apostle sounds too elevated and we are not worthy of it. Well, when preparing this message I understood the mission statement of the apostolic anointing; the ones who were sent. We were sent to the Philippines for mission works and our mission works has been planting churches for 26 years and now we are doing mission works in Cambodia. When did we start our Mission in Cambodia? It came after God said to Pastor Lily, ‘Where are you going to start sending missionaries to Cambodia which you have been talking about for a while now?’
Even the word ‘mass’ from the Catholic is derived from this. The Catholic is sent to the masses. We find the idea of God sending in many scripture texts from the word of God. Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:8, ‘here I am, send me.’ In Isaiah 19:20, ‘a savior’ will be sent. We found Jeremiah protesting because he was just a boy when God wanted to send him. In the New Testament the word ‘sent’ is seen throughout but especially in John 3:16; ‘For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son.’ What is the most famous, the most memorized and the most quoted scripture? John 3:16. In John 20:21, the resurrected Christ says, ‘peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
Today is Mission Sunday and we need to reflect on why we commit ourselves to missionary work in Cambodia. We need to think about that because the why of our work has implications for what we do and why we do it. Mission is the story of God’s dealing with the world. It is the heart of Scripture, church history, doctrine, preaching and worship, ethics and counseling. Mission belongs in every class at the seminary. Mission, locally and globally should be the concern of every congregation and Christian because the Holy Spirit is directed not only inwardly for the peace of our souls but outwardly towards the world and the making of history for the peace of human beings. Jesus calls us not only to come to him which is inward but also to go for him which is outward. I just read recently that the lifestyle faith of the Christian should be the redemption of humankind. So please, kindly understand as I am preaching today on Mission Sunday, I am not trying to concoct, impress or come out with some new ideas to prove my point. Because the heart of God when Adam and Eve fell into sin, has been mission; the one who was sent. And our church has the apostolic anointing; the ones who were sent.
I look at the programs of churches today; worship symposium (recently Don Moen has a music festival in CPU), prosperity gospel (you see that from TV evangelists; one proclaimed, ‘God told me that you have to finance another airplane for me’), even community works, orphanages, VPN; reaching the very poor and needy. We are going to have marriage worship. The stress of the church today is market place Christian; but they are in market place in the stress of making money and telling people of how successful they are in the business world. We always have compilation of statistics by the world. But recently they started to compile the 10 richest pastors in the world. How about being sent? All have been inward looking and fail to fulfill the core value of the church; mission; one who is sent. Last year we thank God for the cell groups that went about their essential commission but Pastor Lily stressed that the purpose of going to all the churches is not to just give rice, bread canned food to feed the poor. She insisted this year that your concentration is on unbelievers and the Gospel message. My cell group will be going for essential commission to Cagayan De Oro, this end of August. But we told the church pastor we are connecting with, that the 100 to 120 people we are giving the grocery packs must be unbelievers and Cheng Lao requested that the program must be in the form of a mini crusade; the preaching of the Gospel followed by salvation and healing. I was wondering why Christians today, in spite of all the programs and activities, are suffering emotionally, socially, mentally and spiritually. More and more Christians are visiting psychiatrist today than ever before. Jan was confiding to me one day. You see; her friends are all scholars, brilliant and almost all are Christians. But many of them are bipolar. Jan was trying to counsel a Methodist friend whom she has not met for more than 10 years and they had a lot to catch up. But she confided to Jan that she has bipolar. So I advise Jan to SOZO her. Is it because we have deviated from the purpose of the birth of the church and the call of the church? Have we been so inward looking? We have beautiful reservoirs throughout Singapore; greenery, placid water, bird chirping, fresh air. But one of the favorite activities for Singaporean at these reservoirs has been to go there and commit suicide; drown themselves. We have no poverty problem but people are killing themselves. Why? Looking at ourselves individually; is all the problems we have accumulated and seems so hard to overcome, has to do with what has have failed to obey; missions. Look at our scripture text this morning again. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Peace is connected with the obedience to the call of mission
There are a few truths we want to discuss this morning.
1. The Theological Understanding of Mission
We must understand the calling of mission. When we understand this truth of the calling of mission; we will go a long way. We live life differently and with a mission. A pastor in France understood mission. It was this understanding that kept him going on when he was a village pastor in France. He had to sweep out buckets full of flies that died on the windows of the church when cold weather came in October. He would chopped the wood, built the fire on Saturday to have the church a little bit warm on Sunday, and of course swabbed the tall windows to kill the flies and stop the loud buzzing. He realized all this was part of mission. We will be able to sustain ourselves in a strange culture, in difficult circumstances and hard knocks when we understand mission. For Pastor Lily and I, it was the understanding that our calling is mission that we are able to keep going on for 32 years in a weird and wonderful culture, in difficult conditions, and hard knocks. The thing that I appreciate most about our 32 years of cross cultural mission work in the Philippines and now in Cambodia is we have helped a great majority of young people to be sent throughout the Philippines and now overseas. The church exists by mission the way fire exist by burning
2. Awareness of the Sign of the Times
The current concerns of the world leaders are the upholding of democratic society, the needs of the community, the gap between the rich and the poor and the standards of justice and truth. Books are written about the crisis of the environment, human rights and the globalization of information and production. September 11 bring about an awareness of terrorism. But the church must understand that the current need of the world is Mission. The church must recognize that we are living in the last days and the time is short because the coming of Christ is at hand. We have a responsibility to worship and follow the living God who is mysteriously present in the world, both hidden and revealed and the church must be aware of what is going on in the world today, moving us towards an unknown future. The church must be able to discern and participate in the Mission of God, embracing all people and giving meaning and purpose to human life. We must understand that that people both need and want to hear the good news of the Gospel. I have been with Pastor Lily in the SOZO for 6 weeks already. I enjoyed the SOZO thoroughly because I felt that I have accomplished something for the LORD. One of the revelations I learn from the SOZO is the there are many Christians who are bombarded and attacked and suffered silently with nobody truly understanding them. They have issues with the family, experienced mental torture, felt very lonely and worthless, under demonic attacks which they don’t even know. The pain of so many is too real. The hurt. The Isolation. The sense of disenfranchisement (to be deprived of a privilege or right). The real hate that has bubbled to the surface. And here I am talking about Christians. It is hundreds of times worse among the people in this world, who don’t have help from God because they don’t know God.
A church starter named Andy Elders who is planting a new church in Bethany Beach reported that one day as he was surveying the community he noticed a bunch of men his age playing football. He quickly called his wife and asked her to bring a cooler full of sodas so they could be given to them and then invite them to church. And it worked. Several of the men ended up not only coming to church but also coming to Christ. Well, Andy began to weep as he shared this great news. He apologized for his lack of emotional control by saying, “I’m sorry. I just have this burning desire in my heart to share my faith with lost people because, you see, I remember what it was like not to know Jesus’. Lost people desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Many of you can say, ‘Pastor, I can identify to those SOZEES because I am one of them. So how can I be made for Mission in my condition? Well do you remember Isaiah 6:8 who says, ‘Here I am, send me.’ Before Isaiah could say, ‘Here am I, send me, he had a problem. He was aware of his own unworthiness. He said, ‘Woe is me, I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lip and I lived among people of unclean lips.’ He was aware of his own sins and he is broken by it. That is why YHWH came and removed his guilt and cleaned him and set him free and gave him peace and then send him. I personally believe that those who went through SOZO will have a liberation and complete healing of the soul, body and mind and will be people sent to help others.
Look at the people of this world. The bible describes these people; spiritually dead and without hope, prisoners in the domain of darkness, enemies of God and cut off from him, without real direction and purpose. Destined for hell and they will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of Lord and from the mystery of His power.
Andrew Meekens, an elder in the International Evangelical Church of Addis Ababa, was one of those who died on November 23, 1996 when a hijacked jet ran out of fuel and crashed near the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. There was a dramatic video footage of that crash. Well, according to survivors, after the pilot announced he would attempt an emergency landing, Meekens stood up and spoke, calming passengers on the Ethiopian Airlines flight. Meekens then presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited people to respond. A surviving flight attendant said that 20 people accepted Christ before that plane went down. Now, Meekends did this – He used the last few minutes of his life witnessing because he believed in the reality of hell. He knew that eternity was only seconds away so he shared the Good News that would prepare the crash victims to face it.
3. Trying to live out the Truth of Christ
Just a few weeks ago Mike was sharing about holy living; that young people must be morally upright. After the service some young people were a little stunned and approached the leader whether Mike was talking about them. This leader advises Mike not to be so direct and that the people in Cambodia cannot be confronted but can only imply concerning their sins. I told Mike that the leader is wrong and he must not be intimidated but continue to teach the truth of Christ. Mike then on the face book gave a shout out; ‘The Word of God is the Word of God. I don’t compromise.’ We cannot preach one lifestyle and live another lifestyle. That is called hypocrisy. Trying to live out the truth of Christ is only possible when there is radical dependence on God and is sustained by meditation of God’s word in Scripture and prayer. Only after we understood the will of God for the world can we talk about mission in the world.
4. Every Christian Responsible for Sharing the Gospel with the Whole World.
I say this because many of us tend to think that world missions are for world missionaries. Many of us think our personal mission is limited to right here where we live. This is a misconception because the Bible teaches that all Christians are responsible for getting the gospel to the entire world. As Jesus said in Mark 16:15 we are to ‘go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.’ We have to start thinking globally. How? Firstly we can start with specific countries. Which Etab is doing right now. We start of Cambodia, pray for Cambodia, pray for our missionaries in Cambodia. Secondly we do our part by giving financially. After you have given your tithes, give to our mission faith pledge. Which is why we have Faith Pledge Sunday today. I thank God for Pastor Lily. I know she manages the faith pledge responsibly and with a mindset that she is accountable to God. When someone designate the money like Pastor Peter Chng for missions for even some of you told Pastor Lily this money is specifically for Cambodia, she make sure that every cent is given to Cambodia missions. In this one year span, we support the Elic Family, a family of four. We support Mike and Nehemiah. It means that we pay their salaries. We pay for the house rentals of two buildings, bought 2 air cons, chairs for Kampong Speu and Phnom Penh, sound systems, organs, and guitars. How about the ministry funds that we give for them monthly for the 2 works. Then we bought the Tuk Tuk vehicle for fetching people to church. We try to expand as much as we can with the money you give to Faith Pledge. Mission needs money. You will share the rewards in heaven one day. You cannot go but you can give.
I believe that God has called us to be a mission minded church. We should understand that our salvation, our experience with the Person of Jesus Christ was an incredible gift of grace. We have freely received, and that should compel us to freely give. Let us joyfully embrace the obligation and eagerness to give in the name of Jesus Christ. Because people out there desperately need to hear the Good News that we have to share. I tell you the truth; I saw how troubled people are in the SOZO. To be honest when I close my eyes and hear their needs, tears just well up in my eyes, on every one of them that came these past 6 weeks to see Pastor Lily. Actually I saw how bad the condition the world is in. If the Christians are under such unbelievable attacks, how much others who don’t even know Christ. I mean you can just freely spend on your personal needs or wants and have God amply supplied you and you can just go to sleep without feeling the prompting of the cry of the wilderness. God said, I have heard the cry of my people and I am come to deliver them. How about you? I heard the cry of the people of the world through the SOZO. And I know that they really need help and need God. You can give.
There is no mission without money. There is a book entitled, ‘No Mission, No Money; No Money No Mission.’ How true this is; the more you give the more you receive. The church is Phnom Penh is coming to one year old. Mike just started in April this year and we have never failed to support them monthly and the money has always been on time. There is no better indicator of growth in the new life than in the area of giving. The important rule of thumb is not how much is given, but how much is left after the giving. All the money in the world belongs to God. I told you last week that there is a trillion tonnes of diamonds just below the surface of this earth. When you give, you are giving to Him. The interest rate in heaven is much higher than any bank in this world. My gift to Him does not make Him any richer, it makes me richer spiritually because of the realization that everything I have is His and that I am giving because I love Him and want to give. 2 Corinthians teaches us the principle of giving. It has to be regular. Regularly every month besides the tithes and offering you set aside money for mission. Secondly it has to be systematic. You take it from your storehouse that God has dropped in every month for you. Thirdly it has to be proportionate. We give as God prospered us. When your earnings increases your mission giving increases.
Failure to give of the money which God has given us is a serious matter. The person who fails to honor God with his money actually robs God, not because it impoverishes God but because it denies God ordained means for the support of His works and His missionaries. For the child of God who honors god with his money God promises abundant blessing and the provision of every need. Giving then is a key to growth in the New Life.