Wednesday, June 07, 2006

ARPC Church Camp 2006 and the Early Church in Acts

What a brilliant church camp. We were all (except the driver and good thinking too) out like lights on the journey back to Singapore from all the excitement of the talks, fellowship, chendol, biceps-building baby-carrying, chicken rice balls, kids with Crocs, nasi lemak, laksa, preparing Bible studies, beer, strolls down the night market at Jonker Street, satay, late night discussions to edify the biblically-needy within ARPC, dispensing medicine, teasing Chappo, Ramly burgers, games, recaliberating priorities to God, wanton noodles, midnight prayers, Peranakan food, jamming, missions planning...
Interestingly, Luke does not describe the early church in Acts 2 as a missionary church. There was no rallying push to go out into the mission field and reach the unreached (which for them would have been the rest of the known and unknown world!). Instead, Luke records them as a family of God's people committed to the gospel, fellowship, community and prayer (Acts 2:42-47).

What is now labelled separately as "missions" was a natural consequence of their grasping and partaking of the wonder of being saved when they least deserved it. No one who truly understands their amazing change of status from being the hateful enemies of God to becoming his precious children will fail to talk about this unbelievable free gift of new life. So there is no one Christian who is not also innately a missionary.

In Acts 8:1-8 we see that the people who took the gospel out of their tiny ghetto in Jerusalem were not apostles. There weren't hands laid to commission them to be overseas missionaries. What those people were in fact doing was that they were running away, fleeing fearfully from persecution, for Saul was going from house to house and dragging Christians, both men and women, from them.

So as refugees in another country, scattered from each other, these cowardly non-martyrs spoke of the thing that most mattered to them: the word, gospel of the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And many people were saved through their testimonies.

Mission is primarily the Christian living his new life faithfully every day, not a special annual holy pilgrimage to a foreign land. An aeroplane trip does not make one a missionary.

John Chapman spoke of his conversion at the age of 13 through the faithful life of the boy who sat next to him in class. That boy was a freshly-minted Christian barely 3 days old, who was neither schooled in apologetics nor, we suppose, commanded to convert the heathens. But in living his new life faithfully, refusing to continue cheating at tests and wanting Chappo to share in this good thing he had received, God worked through him to change the heart and mind of a boy who would later be one of Australia's greatest (as if these things could be measured by humans) evangelists.

God works through the faithful lives of his children to win others for himself. And we shall pray not for God to be part of our work of evangelising others but that he accord us the honour of including us in his work of building his eternal kingdom, for his glory.



At June 11, 2006 7:14 pm , Blogger paddychicken said...

How could you forget to mention Ian Smith's inspiring stories of Valattutoo (whatever) Island?

At June 14, 2006 4:09 pm , Blogger shadow said...

Ah, Vanuatu and her first known missionary whose glorious career amongst the islands lasted a grand total of 10 minutes before he was clubbed to death on the beach and eaten by the natives? (I note that wikipedia lists Vanuatu's national anthem as "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi".)

Well, the predominant religion of Vanuatu now is apparently Christianity. :-)

At June 14, 2006 10:07 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Yumi yumi yumi'?



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