MISSIONS – MORE THAN JUST BUILDINGS

When we visited our daughter in Texas, she took us on a tour of some of the missions and monuments erected in and about San Antonio.  It was fascinating to look at these sites and to think about the people who lived at the time they were built. 

used-mission-san-jose-san-antonio-texas-1782-mission-building-itself
Mission San Jose in San Antonio, Texas, built in 1720.

Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo was known as the “Queen of the Missions” that were built in the San Antonio area. 

The priests’ rooms were built down an exterior corridor along the side of the mission. 

used-mission-san-jose-san-antonio-texas-priests-rooms

The priests’ rooms along the corridor at the mission.

The mission was like most Spanish missions, it was not primarily a place of worship.  Rather, the mission was the focal point of activity for those living in the area. It provided safety within its walls, when many of the people lived in much less secure homes.  It provided social interaction and communication among neighbors who loved long distances apart.  It provided a community of people who lived together and, then, who worshiped together at this place. 

san-antonio-mission-san-jose-1720
Mission San Jose – as restored for us to see and appreciate.

Mission San José has been restored and it illustrates how all the missions might have looked over 250 years ago.  The grounds are beautiful and induce a sense of tranquility even though, when the mission was in use, it was bustling with activity, people and produce.

The missionaries who established the Mission San José worked on behalf of their Lord and Savior in bringing Christ to the people who had not heard of Him before. 

While we may not erect buildings such as the Mission San José, we do have an obligation, as believers in Jesus Christ, to tell others of His sacrificial death and of their need for a Savior. 

Jesus told us to spread the gospel in Matthew 28:19 when He said:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

This was repeated in Acts 1:8 when Jesus told the disciples:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The Apostles then and the Christian believers since then have been under Jesus’ commission to be witnesses of His gospel in our home city, in surrounding areas, and to the end of the earth.  That is what missionary work is – first at home, then in local areas (home missions) and then around the world (foreign missions). 

Paul understood the obligation to preach the gospel to all he encountered when he said in 1 Corinthians 9:16:

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Paul saying “Woe to me”?  He understood the mandate to reach others with the Word of God.  His conviction was so strong, that he stated this warning.  We would do well to take heed to these words.

It has been said that if we do not tell others of their sin and of their need of the Savior, we do not have a right concept of heaven and hell.  If we truly believed that the unrepentant person would spend eternity in suffering in hell, we would be on the street corner grabbing any and all who would stop in our effort to avoid having even one person in that horrible place. 

  • Missions – it may be a beautiful stone structure in which God is proclaimed and the Christian life is lived out as a testimony of the power of the gospel.
  • Missions – it may be speaking to people in a foreign country about God and about His Son to a people who have never heard of a God of love and grace.
  • Missions – it may be living a Christian life in witness to God’s grace before your coworkers and being ready to speak to them of sin and punishment, of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death, of grace and unspeakable joy in the Lord Jesus.
  • Missions – it may be teaching your children or grandchildren of God’s love and of Jesus’ death on the cross, leading them to learn of Him and praying that the Spirit would work on their behalf to seal them as Christians.

 The following poem was taken from a tract published by Christian Laymen’s Tract League many years ago, as it was found in my Uncle’s well-worn Bible:

Speak out for Jesus

You talk about your business, your bonds and stocks and gold;

And in all worldly matters you are so brave and bold.

But why are you so silent about salvation’s plan?

Why don’t you speak for Jesus, and speak out like a man?

You talk about the weather, and the crops of corn and wheat;

You speak of friends and neighbors that pass along the street;

You call yourself a Christian, and like the Gospel plan –

Then why not speak for Jesus, and speak out like a man?

Are you ashamed of Jesus and the story of the cross,

That you lower His pure banner and let it suffer loss?

Have you forgot His suffering?  Did He die for you in vain?

If not, then live and speak for Jesus, and speak out like a man.

Here is a musical offering that I pray will be a blessing to you.   Ms. Robin Kochis is singing “How Beautiful” from the album Great is Thy Faithfulness.  How beautiful are the feet of those that bring the message of Jesus Christ to a lost soul seeking relief from sin that only Jesus can bring. 

May each of us, both men and women, bear His message wherever we go without being ashamed to raise His name! 

 

Lord, forgive me when I have failed to speak your name to others.  Forgive me when I have kept your gift of salvation to myself and have not shared with others the joy and comfort of an intimate relationship with the Creator God who we can now call Father because of your sacrifice.  I praise You, my Lord and Savior.  Give me the wisdom, strength and courage to speak your name to others today.

THE BODY OF CHRIST AT WORK JUNGLE VEGETATION!

Tribe landing strip
At the landing strip on an island in The Philippians.

There are times when things come into greater focus for us as we walk along our pilgrim way with Christ.  One of those times occurred when our daughter was on a mission trip to Manila and spent one month with a missionary doctor.  One week per month, he took a flight into a remote island area and treated the tribe located in the bush.  Another missionary family lived there full-time, their house being a hut with a wood fire for the stove.  So, she had the opportunity to live for one week with the tribe, assisting the doctor and learning of life and the people of God as well.

Tribal village
The village waiting for the doctor to come and minister to their needs.

The Body of Christ became very real for her as she worked with the doctor and served the people both in Manila and in the island tribe.  The following is an excerpt of one of her emails to us:

I had some good conversations with Dr. N. on the plane.  We talked about mission life and the differences in the various roles of missionaries.  I think that one of the things that I saw most was the image of the body of Christ.   It takes more than the people in the tribes. It takes all those that are behind them – the missionaries like V. who are in supportive roles.  Most of them go unthanked, but their part is vital.  They take care of the missionary’s orders for food, their errands.  In fact, Mr. B. sent a flat tire to the hanger on one trip and the people in Malaybalay had it fixed and sent back.  Without the supportive roles, so much would not be possible.  None of this would be possible either if it weren’t for the support of those at home with “secular” jobs.  They provide financial, administrative and prayer support. I guess what I learned is the importance of listening to the call of God.  Where is he leading you?  Wherever it is, follow it with all of your heart and let nothing get in the way of that calling.  We all have a part to play.  I also realized the process that God takes us through.  I don’t think that I’ll ever be done learning how to rely on God and not my own strength, but I also know that He’ll never be done trying to teach me.

 

Scripture teaches the same thing that our daughter described.  In 3 John 1, the Apostle says:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

3 John 1:4-8.

 

Supporting the efforts of the pastors, teachers, missionaries and other ministries of the church is part of the calling of each and every Christian.  Once a year attendance or an annual financial gift is not sufficient.  We need to participate in the life of the church and to interact with others who are part of the body of Christ, as we need the encouragement, accountability and support that frequent interaction entails.  When it comes to missionaries and pastors, we are to go the extra mile with our support, encouragement and prayer.

 

Paul talks of the various churches supporting outreach to others in Romans:

I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.   At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.  For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.  When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.

Romans 15:24-28.

 

And, of course, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the physical body and how each individual member of it has a specific role to play in keeping the person healthy and able to accomplish that which has been appointed for her to do. He then equates the physical body of the Christian to the Body of Christ:

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28.

 

So, quoting our daughter: “Where is he leading you?  Wherever it is, follow it with all of your heart and let nothing get in the way of that calling.  We all have a part to play.”

 

Do you know the part you are to play in the Body of Christ?  Ask Him … the Spirit will lead you into it.  Once you know what you are to do, do it … don’t let the body suffer because you are unwilling to do either your job or your share of the work.

Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength.”

Philip Romolo Neri, (21 July 1515 – 25 May 1595)

 

In short, if you are a Christian, you have a part to play in the body of Christ.  So, do it!

 

 

Father, I pray that we each would follow the Holy Spirit’s lead and embrace the part that You have given us in the Body of Christ.  Forgive us when we have ignored the Spirit’s nudging or when we have shirked our duty after we have been made aware of it.  Help us to run toward the work You have set before us and, in the power of your Spirit, enable us to serve your Kingdom all for your glory and honor, through Christ our Lord, we pray.