Last month I attempted an answer to the question, “How do we measure the results of the work done by the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society?” This got me thinking about what other questions our readers might have. I’d invite you to send through any questions you might have about NZBMS. If it’s appropriate to reply in these pages, I’ll do so, otherwise I’ll send a personal response. Just remember, there are no dumb questions –
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I’m waiting for your questions, I have one of my own that I’d like to answer. “Do we, at NZBMS, convert people to Christianity?”
Would it shock you if I said, “No, we don’t”?
I could construct an argument from a theological perspective that might satisfy some of you, but certainly not everyone. There are clichéd arguments like, “God does the converting and we are only his instruments.” Or, “Our role is to disciple the nations and from that people are brought into the kingdom.”
I could also present a clever argument that goes like this; in some of the locations where we work, the local culture and government only recognise a person changing their religion when they are baptised and tranzsend’s overseas workers do not baptise anyone. This is particularly important when we’re in countries where the government explicitly says we’re not allowed to proselytise.
We can put our hand on our heart and say we comply with their criteria.
Now, you might be inclined to say, “But I want my money to go to evangelism and NZBMS clearly doesn’t do that.”
Well, hold for a moment. Let me ask another question: “Are people becoming followers of Jesus in the communities where we work?”
The answer is, “Absolutely, yes.”
We have a business that employs around 200 people of whom nearly half are followers of Christ. We have another business, much smaller, where some new believers have gone on to complete Bible training in order to reach their own community for Christ.
A few years ago, a tranzsend couple faithfully started discipling a couple of refugees and now the church has more than 100 in attendance. Individuals have found Jesus on the side-lines of a football field, in an engineering company, because a well was built in their village, in a language school business, and various other locations and situations.
Last month, using Mark 4:26-29 as my text, I shared about how our task is to sow seeds, water, nurture, and then have the sickle ready for the harvest, while God’s job is to take care of the growing until he’s ready for harvesting.
We do that simply by living out our faith in the communities of the world he has placed us in.
And more than 300 New Zealand Baptists are doing that – living out their faith through formal mission work overseas, following the example of Jesus, loving God and each other in such a way that the people around them are drawn to discover more about the One who inspires our lives, our hearts and our actions.
In Mark 4:21-22 Jesus says, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a large bowl or a bed? Don’t you put it on its stand? What is hidden is meant to be seen. And what is put out of sight is meant to be brought out into the open.”
Our lives are, or should be, a lamp on a lampstand. When they are brought out into the open and people see that light, they will seek us out.
Do we convert people? No.
Do people see Jesus in the lives of those who serve on our behalf somewhere in the world? Yes.
Do some of those people become followers of Jesus? Yes, they do.
Keep praying for our people, all 300 of them, who are serving God throughout the world. May the light they shine be seen brightly so that… well, you know!
With Permission From: General Directors Blog NZBMS