People-fishing, Jesus-style

Posted on March 20, 2014 by Aaron Kauffman

03-15-Aaron-KauffmanAs a mission agency, what are we supposed to do? Evangelize? Plant churches? Train leaders? Provide education? Work at relief and development? Care for refugees?

“Yes, but…” to all of the above. These activities do not define our core mission. Our mission is “to invite people to faithful living in Jesus Christ.” We seek to be and call forth apprentices of Jesus, not simply start one more program or project.

Last summer the Board of Virginia Mennonite Missions approved seven strategic priorities to guide our work over the next 3-5 years. The first one reads:

Sharpening Our Focus: Create and implement criteria for beginning new ministries and evaluating ongoing work that reflect the priority of VMMissions to make disciples in the way of Christ.

Starting with ourselves, we want all people to know, love and serve the God revealed in Jesus Christ, and to allow the Holy Spirit to transform their entire lives and communities into a reflection of God’s kingdom of joy, justice, righteousness and peace.

The meaning of the phrase, “in the way of Christ,” is twofold. We want people to hear the gospel way of Jesus and live it. And as we make disciples, we want to do it the way Jesus did it. Jesus is both the message and the model.

How did Jesus make disciples? He started with a vision for the transformation of the whole world: “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mk 1:14). The real King of the world is not Caesar or Herod or you or me. It’s God, and it’s time to start living out that truth. How? “Repent and believe the good news!” Turn away from sin and false allegiances and believe the good news that in Jesus, we are forgiven children of the King!

Pastor Joi models how to share the gospel with seekers. Photo by Aaron KauffmanThat’s a huge vision. How did Jesus implement it? Did He march on Jerusalem or Rome and take over? Did He win friends among the movers and shakers of society? No, He went to Galilee and called a bunch of illiterate fisherman to leave everything and follow Him.

I witnessed this same approach to disciple-making on a recent trip to Southeast Asia. Mark and Sarah Schoenhals partner with the Life Enrichment Church in Thailand. They introduced me to Ging, a man who only six months prior was an alcoholic living on the street. He met Jesus at a city-wide gathering and was healed from his addiction. His healing continues in the Life Enrichment Church. We met in December at a training session on sharing the gospel in a Buddhist context, led by Pastor Joi of the Life Enrichment Church.

Formed by Christ, transforming others: Ging is becoming a people-fisher, Jesus style. Let’s follow his example.

Filed in: All posts, Editorial, From the President


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