Guest Column: Easter and overseas missions
    April 5 2012 by Allen Williams, Baptist Press

    WHITAKERS – Have you ever wondered what Easter and international missions have in common? To find out, we need to start at the beginning.
     
    Astronaut James Lovell first coined the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” when Apollo 13 began to experience trouble. Mankind also has a problem in that our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God’s command not to eat fruit from the tree of life. When Adam took that first bite, he immediately saw sin enter this world. Both he and Eve were instantly separated from God.
     
    Since that day, every person has been born with a sinful nature, separated from God until he or she receives the only means of reconciliation — Jesus Christ.
     
    Without Christ we all are sentenced to a second (spiritual) death, which is eternal separation from God in a literal, burning hell. But the good news is that God provided His Son as a substitute to take our punishment and our place.
     
    That is why John the Baptist, upon seeing Jesus for the first time, said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NKJV).
     
    God has always provided a way of forgiveness whether it was the Old Testament sacrifice of animals or the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In both cases, innocent blood had to be shed. Christ, who was 100 percent God and 100 percent man, was the only solution to mankind’s sin problem. So 2,000 years ago, Christ came to this earth, shed His blood and died so we can have forgiveness. After His crucifixion He was buried in a borrowed tomb — but He did not stay there.
     
    Three days later Christ rose from the dead. Three of His followers came to the tomb that morning to mourn only to discover He was no longer there. This conquering of death is the result of God’s power over all things physical. This resurrection, along with the story of His virgin birth and His crucifixion, is known as the gospel.
     
    It is no coincidence that in Matthew 28 the resurrection story is followed by Christ’s command for believers to go into all the world and share the Good News.
     
    So, how do we tie Easter and missions together?
     
    Pray
    We need to pray for the power and control of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. We also need to pray for the salvation of souls. Jesus tells us in John 4:35: “… look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (NKJV).
     
    Prayer also is needed for laborers to go into the harvest. Southern Baptists have 4,857 missionaries on foreign fields who covet our prayers, as well as hundreds more going through the missionary appointment process. Praying for the lost and praying for people to go and win the lost are two of the greatest responsibilities Christians have.
     
    Promote missions
    IMB has tremendous resources available to help Southern Baptists promote missions. For example, our church uses prayer cards focusing on different people groups, and in our children’s Sunday School classes, Kids On Mission materials help our youngsters connect with missionary kids. At Christmas we hold a WMU auction to raise money for our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, 100 percent of which is used to support Southern Baptists’ overseas missionaries and their ministries.
     
    The best way to promote missions is to be creative — so use your imagination.
     
    Plan for missions
    Don’t miss an opportunity to go on a short-term mission trip, whether in the United States or in a foreign country. It will not only change your perspective on missions, it also will change your life.
     
    In the summer of 2010, my wife and I, along with two of our daughters, visited China for 18 days to teach English as a Second Language. Although we had to be careful how we shared the gospel with our students, we were able to use the Bible as our textbook.
     
    At first we saw no results, but we knew the seed had been planted and would be watered by a local pastor. Several months later, we had the chance to see this pastor and some of our students from China. The pastor shared that within two weeks of our trip, nearly 20 kids placed their faith in Christ and about 30 families joined the church. Other great news was that one of the teenage boys who had been disruptive during our camp accepted Christ three weeks later and underwent a complete transformation.
     
    This trip made a tremendous impact not only on my family but also on me as a pastor. I know how to better pray for unreached people groups as well as missionaries.
     
    As we celebrate this Easter, remembering Christ’s victory over a cruel death on a cross in our place — the ultimate sacrifice — let’s not forget the sacrifice He expects of His followers to “go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. …” (Matthew 28:19-20, HCSB).
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Allen W. Williams is pastor of Salem Community Baptist Church in Whitakers, N.C. He can be reached at da3rs@yahoo.com.)
    4/5/2012 3:34:33 PM by Allen Williams, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Easter, missions




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