In the messages I delivered this past month for the ABA GO Team, the theme was “Missions? Still?”
We chose this theme because there seems to be a widespread feeling in North American churches that the work of international missions is done; that is time is past, and that we should now simply concentrate on winning those around us.
In one meeting of local pastors we talked a little bit about this idea, and those around my table expressed the thought that since people from all over the world are coming here, then we can safely satisfy the demands of the gospel by ministering only to them. That way the whole church can be involved, and you do not have to spend lots of money going somewhere else.
There is a lot of force behind this argument, especially when one sees the great job some of our churches are doing in reaching international students, refugees, and others for Jesus. However, the argument ceases to be compelling when we look again at scripture.
In Acts 1.8 Jesus tells the disciples to begin at Jerusalem, and work their way outward from Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth, being witnesses in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 we find that the Holy Spirit has indeed come, and that – lo and behold – “Jews from every nation under heaven” were there listening to Peter preach the good news. Verses 9-11 show a kaleidoscope of peoples who hear Peter’s proclamation that day – and 3000 are saved!
Praise God! Internationals had come to Jerusalem and heard the good news proclaimed there. Did that mean that the Church was finished its task? That it need not go out into the ends of the earth – since the ends of the earth had come to it? By no means. The Church still needed to go out – whether through the force of persecution (Acts 8.1) or the prompting of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13.1-3). And we still need to go today.