This book has not only widened my view on world missions (and my life as a Christian in general), but also grown my respect for The Gospel for Asia.
The book goes through K.P. Yohannan’s story of how he was called to begin and develop The Gospel for Asia. Personally, I love books about missionaries. The way in which missionaries are called and the faith that they have in giving up so much for the sake of the Gospel are truly amazing and testaments to God’s power and provision. Their stories challenge me to live out my faith more and get that courage to look for mountains to move.
This book was recommended to me by my good friend Terry Gee, and I am very glad he told me to read it. If you’re interested in picking up a copy, you may have/ borrow mine or go online to their website and pick one up (they’re free/ donations accepted). I’m also looking into getting/ reading the PDFs of some of Yohannan’s other books.
Or, if you don’t have time to read it for yourself/ want more insight into the book before reading it, the following are some quotes that I really enjoyed from the book along with some of my own commentary (ya know, since this is my blog):
“Why do they always have to be either entertained or entertaining? I wondered. It was as if they were trying to escape from a guilt they had not yet defined or even identified.”
Something I’ve always agreed with. Why do people walk around with headphones in their ears all the time? Why do they blast the music loud on the radio to the point where I can’t hear what they’re saying. It’s the whole notion of the new generation needing constant entertainment, constant noise, constant stimulants. Many times these things detract from hearing and seeing the real beauty that is around us and hinder us from being able to spend quality time with people and with God. Entertainment and music feel good because they drown out thoughts… but personally I think thoughts are good and healthy.
“To my horror the food and ‘fellowship’ frequently cost more than the money they had just given to missions.”
A few summers ago Dave had us see what it was like to live off of the average wage of a Mexican. I forgot exactly how much we were given for a meal, but it wasn’t much. After that, I remember some of my teammates mentioning that they’d forever feel guilty about buying boba since the price of one cup of boba could feed a person for a day. Last week I had a conversation with my friend about boba as well. After adding it all up, we decided that she spends over $100 on boba a year (maybe $200 depending on how much the boba costs). If I spend money on superfluous things, I have no reason to say that I’m poor or hold back from giving to God’s ministries.
“Holding evangelistic crusades and bringing people to Christ are not enough: Someone has to stay behind and nurture the new believers into maturity. For the first time I began to understand the goal of all mission work, the ‘perfecting’ of the saints into sanctified, committed disciples of Christ. Jesus commanded us to go to all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all the things He had revealed.”
Especially because of my involvement in short term missions, going to Urbana, and being part of the evangelism ministry at AACF this quote really hits home. When I was young, one of my life goals was to bring someone to Christ. As I grew up, I realized that’s not all there is to it. People can easily profess Christ, but keep their old selves unchanged by the Gospel. I decided later that my goal was not just to bring someone to Christ, but to see that person become involved and serving. Committed disciples of Christ. That’s what I want to be and that’s what I hope others to be as well. Many times, this is actually the harder part.
“If something fit in with what God had said to me, then I considered it. If not – no matter how attractive it appeared – I refused. The secret of following God’s will, I discovered, usually is wrapped up in rejecting the good for God’s best.”
Reminds me of what Arther Hsieh always says, “good is the enemy of best”. In context he was talking about receiving money from a church. The church had decided to support the ministry, but with certain qualifications. In all human standards it seemed reasonable, but it went against the way that God had called the ministry to run. I think many times I find myself in this situation. If I say yes, it’s not like bad things will happen… though it’s not exactly what God’s calling seemed to be… but you don’t want to risk the chance of loosing what you’ve seemingly been blessed with…. so what do you do? I suppose it is this… always go for God’s best. In the end he spoke from his heart and rejected the offer unless the qualifications were removed. In the end, the leaders not only learned an important lesson on faith, but also continued to support the ministry.
“Every Christian leader should have this engraved in his subconscious. No matter what you do, never take yourself too seriously… God always chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. He shows his might only on the behalf of those who trust in Him. Humility is the place where all christian service begins.”
“The words echoed in my mind. This is His work, I told myself. Why am I making it mine? Thee burden is light. Why am I making it heavy? The work is a privilege. Why am I making it a chore?”
This is something I have to be reminded over and over again. I like he says to never take yourself too seriously. I think I do that a lot… when I think that something seems so important, so crucial, and it’s up to me to do it. It’s like grades in High School… or any school. In retrospect, many times we take ourselves too seriously.
“Why do you think God has allowed you to be born in north America or Europe rather than among the poor of Africa and Asia and to be blessed with such material and spiritual abundance?”
This is a question I have wondered recently. Knowing that this is where God has placed me… what am I to do with it? How am I as a Chinese American female engineer meant to serve the Lord? God has blessed me with many things… how am I to use these things to serve Him?
“Any ‘missions’ that springs from the base things of the world is a betrayal of Christ and is what the Bible calls another gospel. It cannot save or redeem people either as individuals or as a society. We preach a Gospel not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.”
“A spiritual battle fought with spiritual weapons will produce eternal victories. This is why we insist upon restoring a right balance to Gospel outreach. The accent must first and always be on evangelism and discipleship.”
“If you believe the Bible you say you believe, the very knowledge there is a real place called hell – where millions will go and spend eternity if they die without Christ – would make you the most desperate people in the world to give up everything you have to help missions and teaching the lost as your top priority.”
These last three quotes were powerful. Yohannan was commenting on all the social justice ministries that have been popping up and very popular as of late. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently in my own ministry and the things that I enjoy doing or the ways that I’ve wanted to serve the Lord. I know that I’m typically a Martha. I’m the kind of person who just wants to do things to serve people… but God called Martha away from the physical work and asked her to be like Mary. There are people who go out and only preach the Gospel with words. Then there are people who go out and try to preach the Gospel through action… but never actually preach the Gospel. Neither tactics are good… and too often now there has been too much action and not enough Gospel. There’s this idea now that we must meet people’s physical needs before preaching the Gospel to them… but too many people die who have been tried to be helped physically while spiritually they died. What good is it if they live a longer life on earth if after they die they still spend eternity in hell? Anyone, even non-Christians can do good works, but it is only the Word and the Gospel that saves souls. Too often am I afraid of outright sharing the good news of Christ. Too many times I make excuses saying that I need to do this first or that first for the person to hear me out… but many times the spirit is working and ready before I am. We must both live and preach the Gospel… that is our mission for eternity.
The Gospel for Asia does amazing work for God, preaching through both word and action. Yohannan describes the way that their missionaries are trained and their guidelines. They train nationals to serve. In this way they connect culturally, they don’t need language training, and well… many times can be a better witness than a foreigner. These missionaries aren’t afraid of losing their lives, they don’t care to live in nicer conditions or take showers everyday, but only care for the salvation of unbelievers – even if that means that they give up the money for dinner to continue to run their ministry. Above all, their ministry stresses faith, prayer, and complete dependance on Christ. Prayer is not a thing they just do, but it’s the center of their ministry. They hold faith so strong that they would give up donations of thousands of dollars to hold to the truth and God’s best.This is what I want for my own life and any ministry that I serve with.