God intervened in human history in many different ways but his ultimate intervention was sending Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ came to pursue a missionary agenda (Lk 4:16-19). He had a mission of redemption and emancipation. A missionary is someone who carries out a purpose, in this case, God’s purpose.
God has his own purpose and although He is sovereign, He uses human channels as well. Remember mission is not just about the spiritual but about the physical needs as well (cf James). Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. He is the reason for all missionary activity. He commanded us to carry out missions in God’s own style and to present the totality of the Godhead. God the father, Jesus the redeemer and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. Jesus was a disciplemaker: he called the twelve; they were ordinary people and he trained them for three years.
Now we take a look at Paul. God made use of Paul’s background : He was a Jew, a Pharisee and rabbi; he was familiar with Hellenistic (Greek) thinking; he was a Roman citizen and He became a Christian. God has a purpose for everything and prepares us using our backgrounds. Let us be available for God’s use.
As a missionary, Paul was very strategic. He was a church planter, pastor and great disciple maker. Let us look at some of his strategies
- He made use of the synagogues. The synagogue was a familiar place to him, it was also a place where both Jews and Gentiles came to worship. (Acts 13:13-16, Acts 14:1-2) In mission work, you proceed from the known to the unknown. Be systematic and remember missionary work is gradual.
- He made disciples and delegated mission work (Acts 14:21-23, Titus 1:5-9)
Missionary work is team work; you don’t do it alone. Paul trained people and made them leaders in the places he went to minister.
- Mentoring: a mentee is someone who sits at your feet to acquire knowledge from you. Paul did this with Timothy. (Acts 16, 1,2 Timothy, 2 Tim 1:5-8). It is important especially for leaders to bring others up in missions.
- Paul always acknowledged the others he worked with. In his epistles he writes with his fellow “slaves” like Sylvanus, Sosthenes and Timothy. (1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Philemon).
Remember mission work and discipleship occur in the context of the body of Christ. (1 Cor 12). We are all members of the body of Christ. We complement one another in our various giftings and areas of service. Do not try to be like anyone else because you are unique in God’s sight.
Finally, remember that mission work and discipleship are God’s business. We are the junior shepherds (1 Pet 5:1-4) and Christ is the chief shepherd.