December 4, 2022

Revisiting Mission Stations

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

Occasional visits to mission stations are essential for various reasons. The revisitation of newly-established churches by the apostles and their co-labourers was frequent, with several such instances recorded in the Book of Acts and the epistles. For example, in Acts 15:36, we read, “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do” (cf. Phil. 2:24).

The Necessity for Revisits of Mission Stations

What motivated the apostles and their co-labourers to revisit brethren in every city where they had previously ministered God’s Word? Three major motivations for the apostolic revisiting of mission stations are briefly observed below:

Firstly, the apostles’ loving concern for the new churches compelled them to revisit the mission fields – “Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do” (Acts 15:36). We note that the apostle Paul told the Philippian church that he was stirred by the love of Christ to visit them - “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (Phil.1:8). Likewise, he told the Thessalonians, “But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire” (1 Thess. 2:17). Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 11:28, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about his deep concern for them – “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

Biblical evangelistic work requires us to have a sense of responsibility for the Gospel missions we have begun. To be effective and faithful in our Gospel missions, we must be mindful of maintaining and expressing love and care for the churches in our mission fields.

Secondly, such apostolic revisits were also motivated by a desire to nurture the new churches by teaching sound doctrines of God’s Word. Like concerned parents for their children’s nurture, the apostles desired to provide sound teaching for young and immature believers in the mission churches through their revisits. Equipping the saints for the ministry was impossible without returning to the mission fields. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established” (Rom 1:11). He wanted to minister to the church in Rome with the spiritual gifts that he was divinely empowered with, such as preaching, teaching, correcting, exhorting, comforting, praying, guiding and so on. Paul wanted to impart his spiritual blessings to the Romans in order to establish and edify them. He wanted those spiritual brothers and sisters “to grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

Thirdly, the apostles were also committed to advising and warning the leaders and workers of the churches they revisited that they may diligently and faithfully oversee the churches. While passing through Miletus, Paul “sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house … For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:17-32).

Paul’s love and concern for the church in Ephesus compelled him to meet with and encourage its leaders. Those elders and their leadership duties were very dear to Paul’s heart. He gave them appropriate warnings and encouragement to guard the flock against evil men who infiltrated the church.

More reasons can be gleaned from the Scriptures concerning the necessity for revisiting the mission churches. Such other reasons include confirming the souls of the disciples (Acts 14:21-22), ordaining elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), putting things in order in the churches (Acts 14:23; 1 Cor. 11:34), correcting and chastising (1 Cor. 4:21; 3 Jn 10), bringing the collection to help those who need material or financial aid (1 Cor. 16:3-4), being a Gospel blessing among the believers (Rom. 15:29), etc.

Gethsemane BPC’s preachers and elders visit our mission fields (on occasion, they lead small-group mission trips and conduct short retreats, conferences, and children’s programmes) to encourage and strengthen our brethren. God willing, Eld Mah Chin Kwang will lead a Pangasinan-bound team to minister to the brethren in our mission church in February 2023. Let us pray that we will be a zealous church, establishing and nourishing Gospel missions globally.

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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