Why go to a strange place to tell others about what you believe? Isn’t that colonialism? Isn’t that forcing what you believe on other people? Isn’t it basically vacation because you won’t be doing any work? And why go when you could just do that here in Canada?
As many of my readers might already know, I am going on a mission during my reading break, God-willing, to spread the gospel to the country of Denmark. These questions that I listed above are not ones that I have been asked, but are actually questions I have asked myself when applying to go. I wanted to make sure I was deciding to apply for the right reasons. And the more I dug for the answers to those questions, the more I thought to myself “why not go on missions?”
Think about it: God calls us as Christians to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Many of you know this verse as The Great Commission, where Jesus sends his disciples out into the world to tell of his amazing resurrection and incredible saving powers. This verse is so powerful as I can just imagine the shock that the disciples must have been feeling that their best friend and teacher, who died only days before, was now alive and well! It even says in verse 17 that when the disciples saw him, some of them worshipped him, but some of them doubted. The note in my study Bible tells me that the “belief in the resurrection was not instantaneous for them. After the traumatic experience of the crucifixion, it took time for the disciples to come to full faith”. We can see this again in Luke, where there are further recordings of their doubt (24: 10-11, 25-26, 36-47).
If it was hard for even the disciples to believe when they actually saw Jesus with their own eyes, it is understandable how others in today’s age find the story of Jesus difficult to believe as well! But because of these recordings and historical accuracy of the Bible, because of God’s faithfulness and our faith in Him, we can trust that there is incredible hope through Jesus Christ! I get so excited just thinking about how Jesus is alive and well within me, working in me and on me, giving me hope every day that one day, I will be face to face with him and absolutely nothing can come between me and Him thanks to his grace and mercy shown to us through his victory over death! (I realize that was a run-on sentence, but I can’t not run-on about God when He is so awesome!)
So to answer the question “why go?”, the answer is because God calls us as disciples to do that. And the answer to the question “why not stay here in Canada to do that?” is: because he calls us to make disciples of all nations. Obviously not one person on their own can go to all 195 countries in the world in a life time, but when we continue to make disciples, the Christian community grows and God reaches the “unreachable”.
So now this sounds a little like colonialism, and the question to answer is: “how is this not colonizing other cultures?” I’ve taken a only a few classes on colonialism, so I’m definitely not an expert, but I’ve heard many points of view on missions that say we are stripping other cultures of their traditions and ways of life if we share the gospel with them.
If you google the word “colonialism”, you get this definition: “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically”. A definition, however, does not properly describe the process or history of a word, and unfortunately a lot of colonialism in history is attributed to Christianity. There are several ways that economic exploitation happen, and historically, one of the biggest ways humans have colonized countries is through religion. It’s absolutely despicable, especially when there have been many cases with Christianity where it has been used in order to institute power relations and power systems between people. I strongly believe that this is not how God wants the world to behave. But because of sin in the world, many are power hungry, and unfortunately, many of those power hungry people claim to be Christians, but instead use the belief to become powerful in whatever way they can.
But our God is a fair and just God who loves us and wants equality and unity among his people. We can see this throughout the Psalms when David writes about the characteristics of God being vengeful towards those who love him, and one who seeks out justice for the righteous. David says: “He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes, from a violent man you rescued me” (Psalm 18: 47-48). And Isaiah says that “the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved by his righteous acts” (5:16), and in 9:7, he writes “Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”. Wow, such a powerful verse about God’s ruling might!
So when we go on missions, both here in Canada and overseas, we share the gospel message with hope, love and peace for all people, not to gain power. God is ruler over all, not us, and He is just, so we can trust him to rule perfectly. Even more so, those verses can empower us to help accomplish the Lord’s zeal by following through with what He has called us to do by making disciples!
And to answer the last question: No, going on missions is not a vacation. It’s spiritual discipline, it’s stepping out in faith, it’s ministering to the lost, the broken and the needy. For many, including myself, it’s extremely frightening at times. Though some people have a natural gift for evangelizing and aren’t frightened by it all, it’s still not a vacation for them. Vacationing is what you do to relax. Missioning is what you do to accomplish something or get something done – to accomplish, well, a mission for Christ – and the mission is to expand God’s Kingdom by planting seeds of hope in people’s souls through the invigorating gospel message. The mission is not to have several personal accomplishments, like being able to say that you’ve travelled to so many places. The mission is one, God-glorifying accomplishment to further His kingdom.
There will always be people who go for wrong reasons: to escape, to travel as something to put under their belt, to feel better about themselves… But honestly, God can still work through people who go for the wrong reasons. Paul writes in the book of Philippians: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out love, knowing that I am put here [in prison] for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice” (1:15-18a). Although the motives may be impure in some cases, the hope and love spread in the message of the gospel is still true! As the note in my study Bible says, “The gospel has its objectivity and validity a part from those who claim it”, which I am so thankful for because I know that I am far from perfect and feel incredibly inadequate to share Christ’s love. But the beautiful gospel message remains true and hopeful no matter what. It also goes to show that God can use anyone, no matter their flaws, to do His work!
I am incredibly blessed and thankful to have this opportunity to spread the hope and love of our Saviour to Danish students. Although Denmark is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, there is a huge difference between the immediate happiness that instant gratification gives us (and sometimes fades away as soon as it comes!), and the eternal joy that comes with knowing God personally. The spiritual life in Denmark is dead and I have an opportunity to be a part of a revival! I am so excited for this opportunity, and am incredibly thankful to everyone who has donated and been a part of allowing me to go on this mission! God’s goodness and faithfulness seriously always prevails!!!!
Stay tuned for an update on the mission sometime after February 25th!