Missions needs encouragement
In a world full of cynics, do not underestimate the power of an encouraging word to bolster ministry. | Illustration by Trevor Lunde/THE CHIMES
As Biola students spend this week learning how best to bring the Gospel to other nations and cultures, let us not forget the importance encouragement within the church body plays in outreach.
providing practical help
On Feb. 11, 2016 Foreign Policy Magazine published an article entitled, “Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus.” The article highlighted a trend of Chinese students coming to study at secular universities in the United States, only to return to their homes converted after the outreach efforts of on-campus Christian organizations.
Christian students in these campus groups provided practical help for the international students adjusting to American university culture. They not only welcomed them with events celebrating Chinese holidays, but also with some of the small tasks like grocery shopping that may seem overwhelming in such a different environment.
a breath of fresh air
When I stumbled across this article a few weeks ago while browsing an array of articles on war, sanctions and nuclear weapons, this was a breath of fresh air. At first glance, I assumed the article would discuss Christian hypocrisy or a dumbed-down Gospel, but when it instead spoke of Christian love leading people to Christ, I felt pleasantly surprised. Feeling encouraged, I sent the article to a close friend of mine who goes to a UC school and is involved in the leadership of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
In response, she told me her club just launched an international student outreach program, but the person in charge of the program felt discouraged by the lack of people responding to their efforts. But the article helped her see that her efforts would not be in vain. Even though she could not see any results now, she knows all over the country ministries like hers bring people to Christ, encouraging her in her own ministry.
not an easy life
This week, Biola dedicates time to encourage students in spreading the Gospel around the country and the world. We often hear the success stories of missionaries who tell many people of Christ’s salvation and they come to believe. But sometimes, people do not see immediate success. The missional life is not an easy one and people may feel dismayed when after months or years of service, they see no fruits from their ministry.
Although the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Encourager individually, the Holy Spirit within the church body can also act as a support to other believers. Missions remains incredibly important and we must strive to bring the Gospel to the unreached, but we also cannot do this on our own strength. We often underestimate the importance of our task to build one another up. As we focus on our own ministries we forget about our brothers and sisters struggling. We see encouragement as supplementary and not essential. But the smallest of words and reminders of God’s strength and the works of His people can refresh the soul.
Let this serve as an encouragement for you to encourage.