The Main Thing

At one stage during World War II President Roosevelt was traveling to North Africa on board the battleship USS Iowa. There were a number of support ships in the convoy tasked with the responsibility of protecting and escorting the President. However, during one anti-aircraft drill, the Destroyer USS William D. Porter fired an armed and live torpedo at the President’s battleship and initially failed to radio them a warning. History shows it all worked out and the President survived, however it is a rather striking example of forgetting or neglecting your primary mission! In this case – to protect the President.

As Stephen Covey famously wrote: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” This edition of Billions focuses on Evangelism and Church Planting. For OMF this is the main thing. We may be involved in many noble causes and meet various felt needs, but the main thing is to meet the deepest need – and the deepest need is Jesus.

As always, Jesus is our ultimate example and lead when it comes to our mission and ‘main thing.’ After Jesus healed many in Capernaum (including Peter’s mother-in-law), Peter got excited about the crowds and popularity this brought. Yet Jesus was focused on his ‘main thing’ and replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Elsewhere in Luke, Jesus puts it this way, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). Saving the lost could only ever come through the death and resurrection of Jesus and as Romans 10:13-15 explains, this is news that needs to be heard.

That is why it makes perfect sense for the mission of the church to centre on making disciples and teaching them all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18-20). At the end of Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the imperative is to respond to gospel proclamation in repentance and faith. Thus the mission of the church, our main thing, is clear. As DeYoung and Gilbert put it, “The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”

This has been the heartbeat of OMF from its founding. Hudson Taylor wrote, “A million a month were dying in that land [China], dying without God. This was burning into my very soul.” The overwhelming desire to proclaim Christ and the need for repentance and faith in him drove Hudson Taylor to give his life sacrificially to serve the Chinese people. Many other saints have gone before us with similar passion for those ‘dying without God.’ D. L. Moody wrote, “If I believed there was no hell, I am sure I would be off tomorrow for America. I would give up going from town to town and spending day and night ‘urging men to escape from damnation’. Or as William Booth colorfully put it, “The very best preparation that anyone could ever receive for missionary service would be to be dangled over hell for 24 hours.”

The legacy of evangelism and church planting is carried on today in OMF:

  • In South East Asia there are marketplace workers using their networks and connections to proclaim the gospel to professionals and build relationships in the community to share Bible stories, practice hospitality and connect with local Christians.
  • In other parts of South East Asia there are teams using social media and other platforms to promote Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. This strategy follows up individually with enquirers with the ultimate goal of meeting a local Christian in person and connecting them to a Christian community.
  • The Pearl Garden Network in Taiwan has taken years to build relationships and establish trust with marginalized women with the aim of sharing the love of Christ. Over years the gospel has been proclaimed and small communities of believers and seekers have been formed.
  • In southern Thailand adventure camps are run to meet felt needs in the community. This creates an opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus, who fulfills our deepest needs.

When my family served in Japan, we were involved in a church planting team. This was a pioneering type ministry in an area that had few Christians and churches. It was a great joy to teach many adults and children different bible stories in Japanese at the end of English classes. We were blessed to see a number of baptisms while we served, as well as some of these Japanese friends baptized after we had returned to Australia. Our experienced team leaders worked on the principle that every event or activity or class we did always had the Bible or a testimony in it. I remember running an exercise class for men on a Saturday and as we were stretching at the start I would give part of my testimony in Japanese! It was not always easy or comfortable, but it was a privilege to bring the light of Christ to those who had not heard.

At OMF, our heartbeat continues to be evangelism and making disciples. It is our main thing. We pray for and long for many more East Asians to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, repent and believe. Please keep praying for us and partnering with us as we persevere in this work by the power of the Spirit for the glory of God.

Paul Jessop
OMF Australia National Director

 

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