“Gospel going out of China” is this generation’s greatest evangelical dream both locally and internationally. The long road of spreading the Gospel carries the wonderful wishes of innumerable Chinese church priests and gathers the blood and sweat of the older generation of Chinese shepherds.
The previous international chairman of the Gospel Operation International, Rev. Cyrus Lam, toiled and ministered both before and now with his heart and soul. In the most recent issue of “Hua Chuan”, he wrote about the steps for Chinese Churches to head towards worldwide evangelization.
Lam, who spent his whole life missionary work, stated sentimentally that it was not an easy task for Chinese missionary to preach overseas. Many evangelization groups have either failed entirely or returned with hopes of trying again, leading to dulling of the colors of evangelization.
Holding onto the dream of “Gospel outside of China”, the Chinese Church cannot succumb. If that is so, how should missionaries continue on this road with steady steps, and how are they to create long-term results? To this, Lam proposed 14 suggestions.
Step 1: Biblical armor
First of all Lam proposed that the foundation on the truth must be firm. He said that China had many training opportunities. Finding a good seminary and a good life teacher is more important than obtaining a diploma; do train in a systematic Bible training course so that one or two years can be devoted to building a firm foundation on the Word of God.
Step 2: Spiritual armor
Next is to pay attention to the spiritual armor. He pointed out that the spirit life included spirituality and personality. Many people will pursue spirituality but not to refine their personalities. Emotions, interactions, situation handling, personal communications, financial management, and so forth can all reflect a Christian’s personality and emit the fragrance of life.
Spirituality training cannot be gained overnight, but over a long period of time through service in church and self-reflection, and to be sensitive towards the renewal of the Holy Spirit. In addition, elders and the structure of the church can also be pointers towards the maturation of the spiritual life.
Besides, spirituality also include the strengthening and stabilization of heart and mind, especially in sectors who are interested in missionary work, in order to be clear about the mission calling and to endure for long term. One should be able to lead a simple missionary life even before one begins their mission in the field.
Step 3: Experience in Service
Enriched experience in service is very important to evangelization. He suggested that missionaries should participate in service as much as possible before they go out into the field, in order to find their blessings and fortes, so that they can hone in and sharpen their skills to more efficiently fulfill their service life. This way, they can both benefit the Church and its other sectors.
Step 4: Establish a Defense Network
Evangelization is a team-based war, the frontline missionaries cannot succeed without a sizable background defense. That is why Lam suggested that missionaries should first establish their defense network, in other words, find a prayer partner or a prayer group. It is better if elders and/or life mentors can be included.
Try to share the vision and goals with elders and sectors so that they may know how to pray for you and care for you. Every called worker must have a good calling church. If the church has not yet had missionary visions or offerings, one should encourage the church to begin mission prayers and offerings. The stage should always speak about missionary messages and the great calling of Christ, in hopes to sculpt a church that sends out missionaries in Antioch format.
Step 5: Mission Team
Lam suggested that Chinese missionaries should join a mission team, so that they can receive ample help, guidance, support, and can establish teamwork. If a mission team has not yet been formed, you may consider inviting sister churches to establish a team together.
Besides, participating in overseas mission teams is another feasible consideration, because overseas mission teams have established many years of field experience, whereas Chinese churches are still at the beginning stages of mission work. Thus, learning from overseas mission teams is a wise act. Once Chinese churches have accumulated some mission work experience, one can then consider forming a local mission team with the help of missionaries with field experience.
Step 6: Evangelistic Training
Training in evangelization is a must in missionary work. However, Lam pointed out that the evangelistic training that current seminaries or training centers can offer is not adequate. Ideally, mission teams can provide more all-rounded and proper evangelistic training, because workers in a mission team have more field experience.
Step 7: Practicum in the Field
Before participating in long-term declaration of commitment, interested missionary sectors should ideally go through a 6-month or one-year long practicum in the field, to learn under the supervision of more experienced missionaries, because many real-life problems and situations at work cannot be fully comprehended by theoretical lectures. One must physically experience the field in order to fully understand.
Step 8: Equipped with Skills
There are two major problems that Chinese missionaries heading out must face: one is obtaining a long-term working visa, and second is establishing a source of funding. Many Chinese churches have not yet established a mission work funding support system, but only relying on faith to go forth. Thus to him, Chinese churches urgently need to establish a system to support the full-time service workers.
Besides, if missionaries are sent to developing countries where Gospel workers are either not welcome or are banned to enter, the best way is for these missionaries to bring forth career skills so that they can obtain a visa based on their skills that may benefit these countries. At the same time, their work can provide them with funding so as to lighten the burden born by the supporting Churches.
Step 9: Prayer Support
Lam expressed that when we came to this step, the missionaries should be now ready to go forth. However, before and after their presenting ceremonies, there are a few supportive things that need to be confirmed before sending them forth into the field, so as to prevent the situation where the missionary is left all alone fighting in the frontline while the background support network fails, so that the missionary would return defeated, and both manpower and financial resources are wasted.
Mission work is a frontline spiritual war. If there are not 100 people willing to pray often for the missionaries, there must be at least 50 who fervently pray for these workers. Soon-to-be missionaries must also promise to regularly send out information to be included in prayers, so that supporters can continuously receive the most updated information to include in their prayers. This way, the gap between frontline workers and background supporters can be bridged.
Step 10: Financial Support
When speaking of financial support, Lam suggested that Chinese Churches urgently needed to encourage everyone to donate in support of mission work. A good start would be one dollar per day or per week per person. In addition, foundations established for the Kingdom by individual sectors or Christian entrepreneurs will make the collections easier for the missionaries.
Ideally, Chinese churches should not need to receive overseas financial support, because if they wish to bear the work of worldwide evangelization, the first and foremost condition is to be able to self-sustain their own finances. If we still rely on overseas support, then “Back to Jerusalem” will just be a slogan and not something that can be fulfilled.
Step 11: Executive Support
Aside from finances, executive support is also equally important. Lam pointed out that mission teams could better provide executive support to missionaries compared to individual churches. Thus, the structure of mission teams should be established early on, together with the executive details. This can begin with the structure of the field, and can be improvised as more members join in.
Step 12: Training before going into the Field
Besides, missionaries must go through training just before they go forth into the field, in order to review some executive details, the relationship between the church, mission teams, and missionaries, the establishment of teamwork, the development of service work strategies, and so forth so that missionaries can possess adequate understanding before going forth into the field.
Step 13: Language Learning
Missionaries will often face the challenge of language. To this, Lam suggested that missionaries should search for teachers, books, or tapes to learn languages before they go forth into the field. However, the most effective way is still learning on the job in the year following entering the field. This learning doe not only include listening and speaking, but also to immerse in various cultures.
Step 14: Experience in the Field
Lam mentioned that missionaries must understand humility. Missionaries in the first phase have no experience, even to the point of needing company for grocery shopping, not to mention hoping to perform with flying colors in mission work.
Thus, missionaries who first enter into the field must have a student’s or servant’s attitude, knowing that they themselves are just learning nursery rhymes, are seedlings that do not know much, and should learn from others in all new situations. Being a “humble student” is a most suitable attitude for mission workers first entering the field.
Lam expressed in conclusion that the path of the cross is narrow, and the road of mission work is not only narrow but long. If one is not fully prepared, one cannot hope to go far, go on successfully, or go on for long.
Finally, he wholeheartedly encouraged the Chinese Church, “Remember that there are no shortcuts along the road of mission work, and one should not be hasty or greedy or competitive!! We need to rely on the Holy Spirit to steadily go forth step by step!”
[Editor's note: Carol Lee translated the article.]