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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

Dealing With Problems In Mission Work

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When it comes to Gospel missions, the church must be aware of the reality of problems that can hinder and even wreck all her hopes and efforts. It is imperative that every church that is engaged in missions be alert and prepared to deal with problems that would arise from time to time. What makes it all difficult in missions is that it is almost impossible to foresee all the troubles that would arise.

The biggest problem in missions that a church would face emerges from unworthy behaviour of men who take the helm of the mission stations. The work of the Gospel is often hindered when they become selfish, greedy, impatient, contentious, immoral, lazy or an advocate of false doctrines. When they become unreliable and unfaithful, the consequences would not be only disappointments and hurt, but in some cases, total destruction of the mission endeavours under their charge.

Demas, of whom Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:10, is a case in point. There were more men of such disruptive and destructive behaviour, viz. Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15). Such men, in Jesus' words, are hirelings. They are not faithful shepherds who love the sheep (cf. John 10:12-13). They care for themselves and use the missions for their comfort and pleasure. They fit the category of "grievous wolves" of whom Jesus and the apostles warned us of (cf. Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29).

Hence, before appointing a man to be a missionary or a preacher, he must be examined according to the biblical standards (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). He must not be an immature or a young Christian, for Scripture warns against it - "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6).

When a man is appointed, upon proper examination, he needs to be constantly guided and strengthened to carry out the work efficiently and faithfully. It is never wise to leave him unattended. If there are concerns about his conduct or teaching, the pastor(s) or elders of the sending church must advise him as soon as possible. Much love, patience and endurance are to be exercised while correction and advice are given. Like Christ was to His disciples, like Paul was to Timothy and Titus, so should the leaders of the sending church be to missionaries and preachers in the mission stations.

I would like to offer some biblical advice to deal with problems in the mission fields.

Firstly, "prevention is better than remedy". We should not have the attitude that our mission work will never have problems. Scripture has plenty of warnings concerning various problems that would come in the Gospel ministries. Scripture also tells us about the steps that we need to take to prevent such problems. If we manage the missions and men involved in them with a biblical perspective, a lot of the trouble can be prevented.

Secondly, vigilance and discernment are needed for early detection and proper management of problems (cf. Acts 20:29-31). The church should not leave its missions without supervision. It must be proactive in setting up a proper system of mutual accountability.

Thirdly, there must be a commitment to biblical approach in dealing with issues that would arise. Biblical discipline must be implemented (cf. Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 2:11-14; 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; Titus 1:9-13). It begins with gaining a clear understanding of issues involved so that proper biblical counsel may be given. Our first and foremost purpose in exercising 'biblical discipline' is to correct and to restore. But if biblical counsel is not received, then appropriate measures of censure must be applied. If necessary, the church must remove the person from its missions.

Fourthly and most importantly, the church must watch and pray for God's grace, wisdom and strength to guide and maintain all her Gospel missions for the Lord's glory. If the church is to thrive in its mission endeavours by overcoming all kinds of problems that would arise, it must be a church of ardent prayers. Pray, even with fasting, that the Lord would give us victory over the many troubles we might face in the mission work.

 

 

A Call To Fast And Pray

 

Recently, I have briefly written about the need to fast and pray for the various needs of our church. During our last Tuesday prayer meeting, I have called all those who are able to come with fasting to seek the Lord every Tuesday night until our building project in Ethiopia is completed. We also have many other burdens to present before the Lord and to seek His urgent help - those who are seriously sick in our congregation, Preacher Dominino's healing, the mission churches, the 3rd Missionary Conference, the election and appointment of the Church Session, Bible Witness Retreat, etc.

In the past, whenever we sought the Lord with fasting to overcome difficult times and great challenges in the ministry, the Lord had shown us His great favour to deliver and bless us. Our God is ever merciful to all those who seek Him in sincerity and humility.

We have wonderful testimonies of God's people who sought the Lord with fasting in extraordinary times of needs and struggles. In Nehemiah 9, we have a classic example of how the people of God came together to fast and pray. (Please read Nehemiah 9). From this passage, I would like to share the following guidelines for our solemn coming together for fasting and prayer.

  • We must repent of all our sins that hinder God’s guidance and blessings in our lives.
  • We must read the law of God.
  • We must remember His goodness and worship Him.
  • We must renew our commitment to the Lord to obey and serve Him.
  • We must make a covenant with the Lord to be His servants with purity and sincerity of heart.
  • We must submit our petitions to the Lord in faith.

Christ never discouraged proper fasting. His encouragement to them is found in Matthew 6:17 when He said, "When thou fastest." He expected His followers to fast and pray, though He strongly condemned the hypocritical fasting of the Pharisees. When one fasts in the proper manner for the proper reasons, Jesus said that "thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:18). What a wonderful promise to those who sincerely seek His face in humility of heart in fasting and prayer!

So my brethren, please do not dismiss this call to fast and pray. The Lord would not make such a promise if He did not consider fasting as important for His people. When we wait on Him, He shall bless us. See you in the Tuesday Prayer Meeting.

 

Pastoral Exhortation