The high-profile annual Chinese Mission Conference was opened by Rev Thomas Wang yesterday evening, highlighting the challenge faced by world mission at this era.
Some 50 Chinese church ministers gathered at the First Baptist Church of Menlo Park, California to participate the Conference with the theme "Today's Challenge." '
At the beginning, Rev Thomas Wang said the Conference is expected to focus on the practical side of mission. Since the mission work within the Chinese churches are very theoretical so far, but it is now the time to move from "why" and "what" to the dimension of "how," "where" and "when."
Wang pointed out that many Chinese churches have very little knowledge on world mission, so they cannot dedicate themselves in it fully. The Conference has therefore invited many missionaries working at the forefront of mission fields in some Gentile land, so that participants will be envisioned and mobilized to carry the Great Commission.
Followed by the keynote speech delivered by the Gospel Operation International for Chinese Christians chairman Rev Cyrus Lam, the definition of "Mission Field," "Mission Work," and "Mission people," were explained with the Scripture in Romans Chapter 1.
The era of Roman Empire is actually very similar to today's era. In Romans 1:18-32, the word "exchange" has appeared for four times, showing that was a time of many changes. Also, other phrases such as "futile," "unnatural" and "man" also reflected the sin of disobedience of human bring, replacing the beautiful and systematic creation of God with their own thought.
Lam conluded as saying, "What kind of challenge does the post-modernism give to Christianity? Post-modernism opposes 'absoluteness'- the authority of the Holy Scripture, the standard set by the words of Turth and the uniqueness of the Gospel."
"Also, it opposes objective facts such as the historical fact recorded by the Bible; the overall worldview such as the origin of the universe and God's plan of salvation."
Nevertheless, Lam told the audience that the crisis has provided Christians a new opportunity, "Post-modernism also reveals the deep emptiness inside the spirit of man and drive people to the search of faith in order to fulfill the void."
Quoted from Romans 1:1-5, Lam pointed out that missionaries are the ones who are "set apart for the Gospel of God." And he described the nature of the Gospel they must bring to the world.
1. The Gospel that God has promised beforehand through His prophets. Jesus is the King of Kings. Jesus Christ is the only hope of all people on this world.
2. To preach about His son, Jesus has the nature of God.
3. To testify Jesus as a descendant of David by human nature, therefore he has the authority of a king.
4. To testify the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord. The power of the Holy Spirit should not be disregarded when speaking about the Gospel.
5. To preach the faith for all the Gentiles, Jesus is the truth.
Lam explained the role of a missionary from Romans 1: 1-7:
1. A missionary is a servant. Lam emphasized that leadership is built up through serving, "Servant leader, insteading of going from leader to servant, you should become a servant first and then being call a leader. We are the servant of this era."
2. A missionary is the one who is called. Lam pointed out that there are three levels of calling: being called to belong to Jesus Christ; to be set apart in the church to serve the Lord; to be sent as apostles.
3. A missionary is the one who is being sent. Using the English word "apostle," Lam explained that "apo" means "to depart," bringing the Gospel to the world.
4. A missionary is the one who is commissioned. Lam stressed on the importance of the sense of commission among the congregation in the church. He gave reference to Rick Warren's bestseller "Purpose Driven Life," saying that the sense of commission gives people goals in their lives.
5. A missionary is the one who has received grace. Lam told the audience that all those who have received grace are also the one who are given the apostleship. Grace and apostleship are just like the two parallel railways for the train. He said this concept is very important for the mission work. Just as the woman who breaks the alabaster jar, she lives breaking down herself for the Lord everyday. A missionary should also live following grace.
In conclusion, Lam declared his conviction that should be applied to all Christians from Romans 1: 16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
The Conference will be carried on with seminars and workshops, and will be closed on Saturday morning. There will be highlighted renewal meetings in three consecutive evenings starting from Tuesday, on which Rev Thomas Wang will give special lectures.