Friday, January 25, 2013
At the end of last month, I had the privilege of attending the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, a gathering of over 4500 college students, campus ministers, young adult leaders, missionaries and pastors.
For three days I and my fellow attendees were able to experience international worship, messages from veteran world missionaries, workshops to learn about missions issues and opportunities, and “Windows to the World,” interactive exhibits that let participants explore the global regions where real missionaries are at work.
When asked about half-way through the Summit to describe my experience at TWMS so far, I responded, “It’s like Disneyland for people who love Missions!”
And it was. The elements of this Summit could have convinced even skeptics of the value of supporting missions and missionaries who travel to the ends of the earth to spread the Gospel.
The theme of this Summit was “Because I Care,” an appeal to our compassion to follow God’s call and reach the unreached with His tangible love. This passion for world evangelization was evident in over 900 college students who committed to give a year to serve in World or U.S. Missions after graduation.
But an even deeper overarching theme gradually developed throughout the workshops and messages: the vitality of keeping Jesus central to our lives, our work, and our ministry.
Jesus is the One who calls us to join Him in His mission to bring God’s Kingdom on earth, and this call must be our motivation for all that we do. Though this mission often positions us to help meet the physical needs of others, the fulfillment of those needs cannot be what drives us.
On the first night of the Summit, a missionary to the Sudan named Dick Brogden gave a message on abiding in Jesus, during which he made this eye-opening statement: “Disabuse yourself of the notion that God needs you… We are not needed, but we are invited.”
God can use anyone, or no one, to accomplish His mission; He is God and all things are possible for Him. But He chooses us and invites us to join Him.
Brogden went on to point out that “sin is the universal malady; not all are poor, not all are hungry, not all are sick, not all are trafficked, not all lack clean water or education, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
As we strive to live missionally, we must remember that the meeting of physical needs must be accompanied by the communication of the Gospel, or our mission is incomplete. The work of Jesus, on the cross and in our hearts, is what must drive us to reach out to those in need.
In a generation deeply concerned with social justice, we must remember that the greatest injustice is that people die without ever hearing the name of Jesus, the One who can save them from their sin.