The Centrality of the Gospel in Missions
What compels us to give up our aspirations of career, home and comfort of living here America and travel half-way around the world to minister in Asia? It is most certainly not the pursuit of ambition, fame or wealth. We can say this with absolute certainty when we look at those who actually live in Asia. They vote with their feet. At a deeper level, it is not primarily a desire to assist struggling Asians develop skills in order to better help meet their physical needs (Something which we do intend on including as part of our ministry). What motivates us to do life long missions in an Asian context with pleasure is the reality of the gospel. This reality is based on the fact that our hope is not in this fallen world but in the new one that is coming (Heb. 13:14; II Pet. 3:13).
To some this confession may receive a hearty, “Amen!” To others, it may be a puzzle. After all Jesus came and lived a humble life among the poor, orphans, widows and outcasts. He cared for them and he healed them. Should not that be our primary focus? Although helping the poor and healing the sick were a necessary part of his ministry, it was not his primary mission. Consider several statements by Jesus himself and especially the meaning of his name, “Jesus.” In the gospel of Mark we have the first recorded words of Jesus’ public ministry. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus’ first message is not a message of social justice. Rather, it is a declaration of repentance and belief. A mere two chapters later in the narrative Jesus reveals his mission to the scribes and the Pharisees. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Here Jesus proclaims that he has come for the sick. However, contrary to expectation the healing that he is referring to transcends the physical ailment of disease. He has come to save those who are spiritually sick. In the gospel of Matthew we have the most explicit description of his mission by the angel of the Lord. “… and you will call his name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
We believe that the gospel is the good news that Jesus came from heaven to earth to save humanity from their sins in order to bring reconciliation with their creator. Upon conquering death, Jesus overcame the curse brought on by Adam’s fall and thus assumes the role as the last Adam, the king of the universe (Matt. 28:18). On day he will return with the glory of his father and his angels, he will set up his kingdom of righteousness upon this earth and forever we will be reunited with our heavenly Father (Matt. 16:24-28; 25:31-46). This is our hope and this is what we proclaim to the world.