The Missionary Mandate Newsletter

Sunday, February 27, 2011

CHINA: Opens the Door To My First Missons Outreach

University of Mobile Campus - 1987

By: Charles W. Harris
It was in the early Spring of 1987, when the seeds of missions outreach were firmly planted into my heart and spirit by what I believe for certain was divine providence and guidance.  I first began my journey in the missions frontier while pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Mobile (formerly Mobile College). During my senior year, I was selected by the faculty and members of the Board of Trustees and particularly Mrs. Mary Jane Frazier, to represent the school in a six-week long trip to the People's Republic of China.  
When I received the invitation to be a candidate, I was quite surprised, but overly amazed with joy to have the opportunity presented. Even today, I can remember my initial meeting in April of that year with Dr. Michael Magnoli, then President of the college, who warmly congratulated me, shared some of the travel plans, and explained to me the important steps needed to complete my application and the estimated $4,000.00 dollars required for the trip to mainland China. I can also remember the feeling of bewilderment wrap in an enigma of confidence after the meeting and conceding with him that I was willing and able to go. I remember as I walked out of his office that all I had was only my maturing faith in God as a provider, a conviction of what the Psalmist says: "thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." I left knowing the Lord would hear my prayers for the resources to experience an opportunity of a lifetime, and most of all to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the People's Republic of China.  

This confidence came in spite of numerious challenges in one of the most trying periods of my life. What made this event so Godly unusual to me; I was a 31 year old student, a struggling young pastor with a growing family, working part-time, very little income, no passport, and certainly no discretionary funds to travel anywhere. For exanple, my daily reminder of my economic situation was my old 1975 burgundy & gray Ford Granada, that I proudly owned and appreciated at certain times. But, it was moderately unpredictable and at times left me stranded on the school campus in need of a ride home while most of my meager funds was in the gas tank or left at the repair shop the week before. Nevertheless, I still  felt privileged and honored to be asked to represent Mobile College and I was grateful to have the support of other students, teachers, faculty leaders and Alumni who were passionately involved in the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and personal growth of all their students.   
The trip was sponsored by the renown Plowshares Institute a global outreach organization located in Simsbury, Connecticut,  headed by Dr. Robert and Alice Evans, and included students from other colleges throughout the United States.  Our purpose for this mission was to become contributing members of the Chinese community, visiting churches, colleges, factories and industrial centers, living with and amoung this host community of "unreached peoples," and participating in regular various worship experiences throughout our visit. The overall goal of this mission effort would result in building a "mutually beneficial international relationships and return as more engaged members of our global society." The itinerary included visiting some of the largest cities in China, i.e., Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Beijing.
In our next Blog: Destination Hong Kong, I will share just a few of my memorable experiences as we traveled through the countryside, cities, and villages, learning about the culture, the underground church, education, economy and everyday life of the amazing Chinese people. 
Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Lk. 11:28 -NIV).
To be continued.....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God Is A Change Agent for Missions Outreach

In 2010, God called us into Mission Mandate!  Not only did He call us into this blessing, He ushered us to the  place to be trained to do His will through IGO-IWM.  This curriculum requires us to write a Blog to share with you and others the journey of our mandate and the "unreached peoples" group we have chosen to share the Good News of the Gospel. By now you should be asking what is an "unreached people" group?  These are tribal groups located sometimes in partially Christianized areas of this world, that are socially isolated, and overlooked, but has never heard the Gospel preached.
By: Charles & Mia Harris
We also have learned through this study that there are many challenges to world evangelism, such as distance of travel, the danger of being killed, the need for the necessities of life, and even the possibility of persecution by foreign religions. In spite of the impediments and hindrances' God has made it our duty to pray in faith that His kingdom may come and His Will be done in the mission fields of "unreached peoples" groups. Also, we now know that the Bible gives us the model for world evangelism, and the "Church of God is a multinational missionary community, under orders to evangelize until Christ returns."

Today, as change agents and fellow co-workers with Christ we must look beyond the so-called "impediments" that hinder our personal calling for missions, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer who has promised to "never leave us nor forsake us."  The scripture teaches that it is the life-giving force of the Holy Spirit that makes mission outreach possible and empowers the plans, strategies and growth of the church (Paul said: I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase - (1 Cor. 3:6); He also protects and deliver those who are in the field for Christ and for the Kingdom. We believe that the dangers and impediments of true Apostles only serve as milestones to progress, renewed strength and ultimate mission victory.

Why are we saying that God is a change agent for mission outreach? Let's look at a dictionary definition; we believe that a change agent is someone who "alters human capability or organizational systems to achieve a higher degree of output or self actualization." A change agent always begins with the end results in the forefront; the goal is to empower people to achieve lasting success that leaves an eternal legacy. A change agent, in other words, sanctions people to do greater things, to have a healthier prospective on life than previously imagined and incites you to see the future in attainable possibilities and not just problems too impossible to overcome.  

Therefore, we have affirmed that the mandate the Bible gives is not just the Great Commission but the entire biblical revelation. Through the biblical mandate we now believe that God has called us into holy action to be change agents as Christ's evangelists. Certainly Scripture does not call missionaries “change agents.” Yet it is the essential task of missions outreach. The very fundamental nature of missions ministry is to preach, proclaim and lead to people of God to changed lives, faith, attitudes and faithfulness on every level imaginable–personal, communal, national, and internal.

And just like the valiant and audacious men and women of God who went before us, unmoved by sickness or death, but fueled by passion to save lost souls, we too must expect to achieve a greater success that leaves an eternal legacy. You may now be asking; how can we be so assured? Well, we are confident because we are obtaining the required research skills through IGO, listening to those who have field experience in missions, but most of all, because we are "humbly empting ourselves of all but our personal authenticity, so that we may become the servants of others." This is the model of evangelism that the Bible supplies for victory. It is the authentication of this same "self-humbling and self-emptying" that once delivered in us will allow the workings of the Holy Spirit to become the lead agent of change in our destiny to set an entire nation of "unreached peoples" on fire for Jesus Christ.

To be continued.......