A Heart for Missions

When I was asked to write an article about our Missions Month in October, my initial reaction was complete astonishment. After I said yes, I needed a moment to walk and reflect on the assignment. I remember walking a block away from LWIT having palpitations, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. What a monumental job! I prayed and thanked God for this wonderful opportunity. I just want to express my gratitude and honor at this chance to glorify God, as I contribute to LWIT’s overall Mission.

Looking back on the LWIT church’s perspective, the first part of the Mission Series was entitled “The Foundation of Missions”. We focused on Psalms 2:1–12 and other verses that reflect on why Missions was born in the first place. The first three verses speak about the revolt of the nations against God and against Jesus Christ, in which the kings and rulers’ plotted to disconnect from their Creator and His Anointed One. God is unshaken, and not one of God’s creations can overstep His command. He has set his Son, Jesus Christ, as King on Zion, His holy hill. Our Savior Jesus Christ will reign over every king and ruler. In the last verse, we are to respond to God’s rule with full loyalty, and we are to solemnly swear (or promise) allegiance to Jesus Christ.

Pastor TJ asked, “How do we respond to trials and tribulations? Do we rebel against God, or are we unwavering and passionate about His saving grace through Jesus Christ?” Pastor TJ then ended with something that we can reflect on: “There are three kinds of Christians: the Goers, the Senders, and the Disobedient. Which one are you?”

This first of the series shows us how man’s sinful nature and rebellion resulted to a complete disconnect from God. Turning away from sin and having strong faith and trust in God’s work on the cross will save us and sustain us from falling back. Whatever grief and distress we face, small or big, we are not to be discouraged. We are to turn to God right away for strength, courage, wisdom and protection. Missions work is not a walk in the park. From my devotional booklet, Our Daily Bread, it says: Spiritual growth occurs when faith is cultivated.

Every week, a local missions ministry is also featured. For the first week, it was International Justice Mission Philippines was featured before the series started. IJM is a global organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM Partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, to bring criminals to justice, to restore survivors, and to strengthen justice systems. IJM Philippines is currently fighting the alarming growth of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.

The second part of the series was entitled “His Mission, Our Mission”. In this series, we studied Luke 4:16–21 in which Pastor Glenn Edwards preached on the Certainty of our Mission which is the coming of Jesus Christ. The Message of our Mission is the proclamation of His Good News. The only cure to sin is His living Word. The answer to people’s brokenness is the righteousness of God which is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the main objective of the mission wherein the message can give liberty to the captives (freedom), restore sight to the blind (restoration), and set the oppressed free (justice).

Pastor TJ imparted the following lines to reflect on: “Who, what, where, why we are here today is not about ourselves. There is a mission and a calling, for every believer and follower.” We do not exist for ourselves; we were saved to be sent. Let us all be mindful of God’s mission. The people is the heart of our Mission.

In this series, we were reminded that as we continue to know and build our relationship with God in Christ, we must not forget His Great Commission. God’s mission is the people. It is written in Matthew 28:16–20, Jesus Christ commanded all disciples to reach, replicate, release and reproduce. Christ sends us out to bring others in with a promise that our Savior will be with us always until the end of age.   

Prior to the preaching, World Vision was introduced. World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities in order to overcome poverty and injustice. Motivated by Christian faith, World Vision aims to empower every child to build a better future for their families, their communities and their countries. World vision serves the most vulnerable regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. 

The third part of the series was entitled “The Call for Missions” which focused on various Bible verses. The first part pointed out the church’s need to have a new metric for success. Is it through attendance, pledges, or how big the church is? How do we truly measure this? The true measure of this success happens after each member (a sent one) leaves the service. In John 17:18, Jesus said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The more missionaries that are sent out, the more disciples there will be. Our Mission is God’s Mission. In the book of Acts, out of the 40 miracles chronicled, 39 of them occurred outside the church’s walls. Ordinary believers had the opportunity to be sent out there, scattered abroad to preach the Gospel. The second part was the church’s need to develop a healthy Gospel culture. Pastor TJ quoted Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” As a gospel-centered church, our culture should be shaped and motivated by Christ. Taking the initiative is the first step. If we have truly experienced God’s love, we will share this overflow of love to others. In Romans 1, Paul described himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God. Paul’s conviction should also inspire us to be like him. The third and last point was to know what specific vocation God has given each member. In 1 Peter 2:9, the message is that every believer is a priest to proclaim God’s Word. There should be an evangelism strategy. We can start by understanding that biblical evangelism is teaching the Gospel with the aim to persuade. Whichever field of expertise we are in, we should properly represent Jesus Christ. Conversion is commission. We are not saved just for the sake of saving. As missionaries, our goal is to make Jesus Christ known to the world and to spread the news that there is hope in Him alone. We are to respond in obedience and heed the call. The church needs to be more deliberate in becoming a Sending Church. The church that gives the most wins the most. We are to abide in Christ through regular and constant prayers and spend time in His Word daily. In this way, missions work will come out naturally.

The message of this series is clear. The moment we get saved by God’s grace, we are to take heed in God’s call for discipleship. Quality discipleship is vital in the Church’s goal to be successful in sending out their obedient goers. In Titus 3:1-7, Paul makes it clear that we are saved to do good works. Our lives may be the only Gospel some people read. May the world that watches see transformed people and believe in God’s transforming power.

This particular week, AWANA was the organization featured. Awana is a global, nonprofit ministry committed to the belief that the greatest impact for Christ starts with kids who know, love and serve him. It strives to reach kids, equip leaders and change the world by focusing on teaching, equiping and training children in the power of God’s Word.

The fourth and last part of the series for our Missions Month was led by Pastor Jojo Chua, entitled “From the Marketplace, for the Marketplace”. Pastor Jojo kicked off the service with a question: “Is wealth and money evil, Biblically speaking?” He answered that (earthly) wealth comes from God and it is not evil. In 1 Chronicles 29, King David was thanking God with all his heart and expressed his full gratitude in adoration, prayers and offerings. King David was deeply appreciative of all the material wealth and riches God has poured out on him and his people. Pastor Jojo pointed out two things. First, King David was thankful for the wealth. Second, King David was not sorry or apologetic. He acknowledged that all the wealth came from God. In Proverbs 10:22, God’s blessings are riches and wealth, and he adds no sorrow to it. Though wealth and money are not evil, it can be evil if one only desires to become rich and if there is love for money. Both points can lead to temptation and evil, as written in 1 Timothy 6:9–10. The right attitude is to desire and aim to be productive and fruitful coupled with obedience to God. The wrong way would be to desire to become rich for selfish reasons. In Genesis 1:28, of the three instructions from that passage, we are reminded to be fruitful (productive), to subdue (bring under control), and to have dominion over every living thing that moves on earth. God gave us the privilege to discover what we can find on earth and its benefits. Being productive in life is an act of obedience, and it is also a form of praise to God. Transitioning to Matthew 27:57, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a disciple of Jesus, is believed to be a trader in the marketplace and was a member of the council. He was good and righteous and never agreed to the council’s decision and action; Joseph of Arimathea also sought for God’s kingdom (expounded further in Luke 23:50–56). He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Joseph is an example of a worker in the marketplace. Marketplace believers can influence non-believers and lead them to God. There are three things we need bear in mind in the marketplace: First, we should do things with excellence to influence followers. Second, money is not the most important thing in God’s kingdom, but it is vital in helping the church’s vision and mission. Third, honor God with your wealth (Luke 6:28 and Malachi 3:10). In Matthew 25:14–30, the parable of the talents, we can learn here that every believer is entrusted with a talent. Every believer has the capacity to earn. Every believer is unique. The moral of the parable is to work on the talent that was given to you and invest it in the work for God’s glory. Remember, in the end, there will be a settling of accounts done. The service ended with a reminder that both influence and resources are also key to accomplishing the Great Commission. 

This last part of the series gives a different perspective on how we should look at money and wealth. Our resources are valuable, and God has blessed us with these things. We must never forget to be thankful for these things and use it to honor God. Our influence in the marketplace, also known as our mission field, is as important as our wealth. We are to use them as we abide in God’s Great Commission.

Door of Hope is a ministry our main church branch has partnered with. The statement of their mission is built on thre R’s. They exist to Repair, Rebuild and Restore broken lives of children who are devastated by various abuses and neglect especially sexual abuse.

I encourage you to not just skim through the organizations that have been featured, but to pray for them, and even consider praying to see if God is calling you to support these organizations in any way He wills.

Reflecting on my personal perspective on Missions led me to a one-on-two interview with our Missions Pastor, Ptr. Jed C. Escalante, and one of the coordinators for the AWANA Children’s Ministry, Carmelle Kay M. Mondoñedo. It was a humbling opportunity to have them share their past and their views as well as learn about their passion for missions. The supposed 10-minute interview lasted almost 2 hours. Ptr. Jed shared about his dreadful childhood, his rebellious teenage years, and how he survived it all until he was saved by God’s loving grace. The Bible School was his first chance to get free education. The first two years, he was just after the sponsorship and never desired to be a pastor until one day, he felt spent on his persistent rebellion. According to him, what he’s gone through and what God did to save him fuels his passion for missions. As for Carmelle’s story, it was mild but with hardships as well. Her parents dreamt for her to pursue a career and establish their family, as her older siblings settled early. Her passion for missions made her say, “Being in the missions field is like being in the front-row seat witnessing God’s miracles.” During their younger Christian days, on separate occasions, they were inspired by End of the Spear; Ptr Jed saw the movie adaptation while Carmelle read the book. When they met in Bible school, they discovered they had similar experiences though they had different missionary assignments. They also shared how the Living Word IT Park Missions Team started a year ago. Ptr Jed quoted these Bible verses: Isaiah 61:1, Acts 26:16–18, 2 Corinthians 2:12–17, Luke 10:2 and Matthew 28:18–20. Lastly, I asked them for their message to inspire others and they shared the following: “Being a missionary is not a sacrifice but it is an opportunity to serve God.” “Yearn in God, abide in Him.” “Seeing people’s spiritual growth is one of the missionary’s goal.” In Missions, the task ahead may seem tremendous but it is never as great as the power that is behind us. That power is in the cross, our Lord Jesus Christ and what he did for us.

Out of curiosity, I asked Ptr Jed why there are few Missions field volunteers in general. He said that there are three types of volunteers: the curious, the convinced, and the committed. Relating this to my personal experience, I really started out as a curious volunteer. I never signed up for the Missions Team when I began attending service back in April this year. I was just curious about joining and being involved in church activities. As I started to join the Starting Point Class back in May, I also started to get to know the people in the Young Professionals Make Disciples Group. After the Starting Point Class, I eventually joined the MD Group. Then I started having one-on-one discipleship with Alrose. I signed up for the Young Professionals, Matchless Camp and also for the Poverty Exposure in Inayawan. In between, I attended our MD group the best I can, weekly. The YP Camp experience was unforgettable. It helped me grow closer to God at the same time bond with everyone in the YP MD Group.

Three weeks later, the Poverty Exposure came and I prepared myself mentally and physically as best as I can. But I was not prepared to witness what I saw. The experience opened my eyes and ripped my heart in pieces. After the exposure, I cried for almost a week; even as I opened my water sink, I would suddenly cry. Not out of pity. Deep inside, I felt extremely guilty for all the years that I have been selfish. I used to complain about small inconveniences I would go through in life. I realized that day, God has blessed me with so much and I was barely thankful. I cried out of anger at how the poor get exploited. I cried out of extreme sadness that they get very little help from the locals and the local government. Lastly, I cried out of gratefulness for God’s love. From then on, I became a convinced volunteer and joined the Missions Team, under the Barangay Apas Family Ministry.

As I journey in my walk with Christ, my prayer is that we pray for one another. I pray that we would commit to obey the Great Commandment and fulfill The Great Commission. There is so much work to be done. Nancy of IGC Inayawan said, “Find your mission field; you don’t have to go too far. Start in your local community.” We can start in the marketplace, in our respective fields of expertise. We can use our influence and resources to help because each and every believer has a God-given role in this Mission. To conclude, everything that has happened to me led me to writing this article and it is not a coincidence at all. I now know that it was God’s grace that paved the way for me to be with a Gospel-centered church. LWIT has been honing me to be a committed missionary through the YP MD Group, the one-on-one discipleships, the different Ministries, and other activities. Missions is not simply a duty, but it is a love-driven purpose. It is God’s love for us and our response to His love that will eventually lead us to have a heart for people.