Vicar's Voice, 29 September 2019

When we begin what seems to be a small undertaking, we have not imagined the possibility that we could make a global or national impact. Thomas Edison who invented the first commercially viable light globe, may have understood the importance of this invention. But he put aside another invention for 10 years in 1877 to work on what he thought was more important. It was an invention that has had a far greater impact, the phonogram. This was a primitive sound recording and playback device that has led to all kinds of technology in sound, performance, radio and television. 

When the elders in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3) gathered for their regular prayers the Holy Spirit led them to ‘set apart’ (dedicate, consecrate) Barnabas and Saul to go from Antioch and start new churches in places to be revealed by the Spirit’s guidance. We have the whole history unfolding in the rest of the book of Acts but could those men in Antioch have known what was going to eventuate? We don’t know the full impact or extent of the rest of the apostles’ ministry, extra-Biblical writings of the Early Church Fathers give only scant details.

Jesus mentioned “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) and I think the Antioch church sending the first ‘missionaries’ was the beginning of the global impact of the Gospel. So it continues today many years later. It has long been a tradition of missionary sending organisations to ‘set apart’ new or returning missionaries each time they venture forth in the Name of Christ. It is very humbling to know that many people have been involved in the formation and sending out, each time we have left our home.

It is the function of the local church to not only be missional in their own neighbourhood but also to have a healthy understanding and vision to engage globally. Economics has given us the saying, “Think locally, act globally” (ca. 2006). What happened in Antioch illustrates that idea quiet well from a missional point of view. Locally, Barnabas and Saul had been ministering to the congregation for over a year. Now the church had reached a level of maturity where they could hear clearly the Holy Spirit to send out these two men (Saul becomes Paul, and John Mark from Jerusalem also joins them briefly). 

Our challenge is to missionally evaluate our church. We seem to be functioning well in ministering locally. We are nurturing members of our congregations across two centres through Biblical preaching, pastoral care and small groups. Locally we are also closely engaged with our Outreach Projects. But what about the world beyond Indonesia? What is our global plan? Have we ever thought the possibility of sending and supporting missionaries to other countries in S.E. Asia or beyond? What would it take for All Saints to become truly global in its outlook?

This is something to pray about. The church here was established through the missionary enterprise of people from other nations. Initially ASJ was engaged in mission to China and other parts of Java and Sumatra. While it is true there are Christians in almost every country in the world, there are still a lot of unreached people groups (7,153 UPGs out of 17,098 total) in the world today. They will never hear the Gospel unless missionaries are sent. Antioch church started on their knees. Before we try to answer the questions above, let’s start on our knees.

In Christ