From where we sit in our New Zealand context it would appear that mission has changed forever with the COVID pandemic isolating us from the wider world and the opportunities for travel and return to New Zealand. This context reminds me of a quote that suggests, “Where you stand is how you perceive the world”. In our New Zealand context with its strict isolation policy and with a conviction that the virus can be eliminated, we risk having a limited view of what is and can be done in mission across the globe.
GC3’s good news.
Since our shutdown there have been over eleven couples or individuals leave New Zealand shores to engage in mission activity. Five of these mission partners are new workers to PNG, India, Sudan, Bolivia, and Mexico with a total of nine adults and nine children. A further eight adults have returned to their countries of mission service after furlough.
You may ask, is this the right discussion or responsible action during a time of such upheaval and uncertainty across our globe? The life and ministry of Jesus give us a clear answer. Certainly, there was nothing ideal about the social and political world into which Jesus began his mission to deliver saving grace. His own country was occupied by a foreign power who was exercising extreme oppression. Injustice and corruption were common in all aspects of society, including among the religious leaders of the time. It is to this situation the Jesus launches his ministry declaring his intent and his motives by reading from Isaiah 61:1 -2.
“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and to release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.”
There was nothing ideal about the world that Jesus stepped into, but we know that Jesus quickly identifies his ministry as one that will be played out among people of incredible need, suffering and sin.
The history of GC3 mission partners is full of examples of the same reality. Pioneer mission work has birthed Christian communities in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific regions. These were places where the gospel was shared for the first time by men and women with the same level of commitment that is still required today in a number of the countries of GC3’s engagement.
Today we celebrate our partnership with Christians across the globe including the 38 countries that our missionaries are working in. Certainly, this pandemic has pivoted us into new and creative ways of reaching out. Medical intervention, media and printed materials are currently playing an important role in this adaptation to new challenges.
Covid has also heightened recognition that in countries that are now difficult to access the believers are still there working in their own context. They have lifted the banner of the gospel despite extreme difficulties and have realised that they are the primary missionaries in many of our partner countries.
Obstacles and suffering have almost always accompanied the rigor of missionary endeavours. In reality, it is often in these circumstances that the gospel accompanied with compassion, partnership and clear communication has had the best impact.
Join the GC3 team
Philippians 1: 29 – 28 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggles you saw I had and now here that I still have”. I learned early in my Christian walk that anything in life of real worth has an element of sacrifice. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate invitation to God's presence and opportunity to join the team in sharing the gospel message. In the current context of Covid, there is a myriad of opportunity to encourage those around us who are anxious, fearful and at times suffering loss. This is an ideal time for us to bring the good news to our neighbours, family, and friends.
In the context of GC3 missions work, this is equally an ideal time to re-engage in prayer for our mission partners and their indigenous colleagues. They are often in far more severe circumstances than we are experiencing here in New Zealand, but still answering the call to go into all the world and share the gospel. The Covid pandemic should not restrict Christian missions but rather move us to considering how we can support active workers.