Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A Ministry Observed

Rita and I had lunch this week with a young couple who ministry in a predominantly Islamic South Asian country.  They do not work for a denomination, but they affiliate with a Christian organization.  They have a clear vision of what God has called them to do in that particular setting and are investing their lives there.

I always learn something new when we visit, and I came away from this meeting with a fresh understanding about the key values of their work.  These values could well apply to other ministries as well.

First, their work is Kingdom-oriented.  This could be expressed in a number of ways, but the primary purpose of this ministry is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and his reign.  Through the death and resurrection of Christ, the Kingdom of God is already breaking through.  Their mission and ours is to tell people about this incursion and invite them to follow Christ in this movement. 

Second, this ministry is contextual.  This couple has great respect for the culture in which they serve.  They understand that some aspects of this culture are antithetical to the Gospel.  On the other hand, much of culture is life-affirming and worthy of understanding and support.  Their on-going task is to differentiate between what is negotiable and what is not for believers.

Third, their work is incarnational.  They live among the people in the country where they serve so that they can learn and teach as peers.  They will always be outsiders, but they attempt to lower the barriers that might hinder communication.

Fourth, they emphasize discipleship.  The future of the church—no matter what form it takes—in any culture is based on calling out and equipping believers who will spiritually reproduce.  Healthy, growing disciples are essential to Kingdom growth.  This is necessary for the next value to be actualized.

Fifth, their goal is for this work to be indigenous.  This couple wants to “work themselves out of a job.”  At some point, the missional movement that they support will be completely led by the local believers with no involvement of outside personnel.

Sixth, their approach is entrepreneurial.  They encourage believers to develop their own businesses that will not only assure financial support but also a venue for evangelism.  The couple’s organization does this by providing microloans for the start-up costs for very simple businesses.  The goal is not simply personal income, however.  The business must provide a way for the person to live out his or her calling as a believer.

These values certainly complement and reinforce one another.  They undergird the vision of this couple to reach and disciple national leaders for a movement that will be self-led, self-supporting and self-propagating.  This is no easy task but it is one that they feel that God has called them to.

For more information about this work, please contact me at ircelharrison@gmail.com.

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