With the rapid internet and transportation development in the 21st century, not only has communication become easier, but the interactions between countries and citizens have also improved. Besides, some regions still find it tough to accept missionaries, and thus Christians are inclined to use the internet for proselytizing rather than to appoint missionaries to go to the mission field for long-term missions.
In the recent issue of the CCCOWE’s magazine “Chinese Church Today,” Rev. Steven Ho (Deputy International Director in charge of Field Ministries for Gospel Operation International) proposed and emphasized that the concept of missions in the 21st century includes these three inevitable principles: personal participation, long-term physical presence, and maintenance of the mission calling, in hopes to incite consensus among Christians.
Personal participation of missionaries
Ho pointed out that although modern technology has provided missionaries with ample opportunities, people still need to step out of their comfort zones and enter into the crowd. Because, on one hand, only youths are more familiar with surfing the internet, while the elderly population are usually less knowledgeable about the internet and thus would lose the opportunity to connect with Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, although televised videos and “virtual churches” can help disciple the recently converted believers, they cannot provide the real-life experience of a pastor personally guiding to build a relationship with Jesus. Thus, these believers’ relationship with Christ can remain shallow.
Although the interactions between countries have increased, where we meet businessmen and international students in our countries, they will eventually return to their home country after a period of time. Thus, missionaries should personally visit those unreached places in order to do mission solidly.
Long-term physical presence of missionaries
Ho used examples of how the Lord spent three years for discipleship and Apostle Paul went on mission tours, but continued to send co-workers to nurture and train elders to minister the churches, to illustrate the both Jesus and Paul’s mission principles were of long-term.
For those regions which cannot accommodate the long-term physical presence of missionaries (although short-term presence will allow missionaries to safely reside in these developing regions), it is more difficult for locals to build trust and acceptance for Jesus Christ through short-term contact with missionaries, since the locals do not have many opportunities to connect with Christians to start with. Thus, Ho felt that the framework of short-term missionary work could only be used as an aid, while a plan for long-term physical presence is inevitable.
Maintenance of the evangelistic calling of missionaries
Using his personal experience, Ho spoke of the importance for a missionary to maintain the mission calling. He had met missionaries who entered pioneering countries as teachers in order to more easily resolve their visa problems, but later left the mission field in order to maintain their status or earn more money, abandoning the God’s calling.
Then, Ho used the example of China’s first protestant missionary Robert Morrison, who went to China under the identity of a translator the East Indian Company; Morrison not only resisted the temptation of wealth, but translated the first Chinese Bible “God’s Holy Book” and compiled the Chinese-English “Dictionary of Capella” to fulfill his calling. Ho encouraged believers to aim for long-term presence in developing countries to fulfill the mission calling.
[Editor's note: Carol Lee translated the report.]