Today’s post is written by a CAMA worker serving in West Africa.
I recently read an article titled “The Death of the Great Commission.” The author reported a recent survey indicated 51 percent of American churchgoers do not know what the Great Commission is (see Matthew 28:18–20). This is like a doctor not knowing what the word “medicine” means, he said.
Surely, that can’t be true of our Alliance churches, I thought immediately.
Completing the Great Commission is at the Alliance core. Our Mission Statement says: “We desire to know Jesus Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King and to complete His Great Commission.”
We Need Both
But the article’s point was that those churches focusing on social-justice issues have overshadowed the primary mandate Jesus gave His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” In the command to love our neighbors, some have not incorporated the importance of verbalizing the good news of Jesus.
As a 13-year veteran of CAMA, my work among vulnerable female child-laborers falls in line with compassion and justice ministry.
So this article gave me considerable pause. Am I a part of the Great Commission’s death in our Alliance churches?
Please don’t misunderstand me. My heart and God-given calling is to advocate for people facing injustices in this world. If you ever want to hear me up on my soapbox, just ask me about the realities women face in my region of the world.
Yet, if in my ministry and relationships I don’t move beyond acts of compassion to verbally proclaim the good news, the people I serve will never encounter Jesus and experience true transformation. Aisha is an example.
Her life was a mess when we first met. Aisha came from a broken home; her father was an alcoholic. Her older sister had two children out of wedlock with two different daddies—hardly a good example for her little sister.
Aisha’s mother, a devout follower of the majority religion, came to our Alliance pastor’s wife asking for help. She’d heard our church-based Hands of Honor program worked with vulnerable teen girls. She was concerned about her daughter, who had recently started hanging out by the river at night. Everyone knew that meant Aisha was dabbling in prostitution.
Aisha was sullen, angry, and bitter when she first joined our group. Nothing worked to bring a smile to her face.
Once she came to class with a black eye. We asked her about it, but she didn’t respond. My teammate, a nurse, was concerned that Aisha might have retinal damage. We talked her into visiting a doctor, but she never showed up for the scheduled appointment.
It took months of responding to her scowls with our smiles, caring for her, praying for and with her until we began to see a softening of her heart.
Before and After
The day arrived when Aisha was with our pastor’s wife and surrendered her life to Jesus. You’d hardly recognize the “before Jesus” Aisha in the sweet, loving teen she is now.
Today she is thriving in a girls’ vocational school—she even sang in the church Christmas choir this year. A life transformed through the power of the gospel!
We need to take the whole gospel to a hurting world.
Did Aisha need us to demonstrate Jesus’ compassion? Are we biblically mandated to care for the brokenness in her life and family (see Matthew 25:31–46)? Yes and yes!
But only in encountering Jesus—and understanding salvation and forgiveness through a relationship with Him—did Aisha find wholeness and healing.
Alliance Missions for Today’s World
I’m not sure if you keep up with Alliance current events, but as of July 1, 2018, CAMA Services will more closely align with Alliance International Ministries. For details about the integration of CAMA Services with Alliance International Ministries, watch U.S. Alliance President John Stumbo’s recent video blog (12:26).
Change of this magnitude is not easy. But I for one celebrate it because I can look past the long road of transition to the beautiful big picture: a better collaboration in proclaiming the good news—through words and deeds—for greater Kingdom impact.
In today’s world, that’s what it’s going to take to reach lost people.
The world needs Jesus like never before. There are people in our local communities and around the world who will never encounter Jesus unless we reach out to meet them at their point of need and demonstrate Christ-centered compassion. But they won’t understand how to have a life-transforming relationship with Him unless we His followers explain it and model it for them.
Loving Our Neighbors
Alliance family, let’s love our neighbors in every tangible way possible. Let’s take a stand against injustice, care for the widow and the orphan, serve the poor, and feed the hungry.
And let’s not forget that the most life-transforming way we can love our neighbors is through sharing the gospel with them, testifying to how Jesus has changed our lives.
In the words of a previous beloved CAMA president, Phil Skellie, “Why would we work tirelessly to see people’s lives on earth improved only to see them spend an eternity in hell?”