Empowering Christian nationals

March 08, 2017 at 6:00 AM

A group of women aimed at promoting healthy eating gathers to make food in San Juan, Guatemala.                     (Photo by Dr. Wrede Vogel)

(Editor's note: Dr. Jim Spindler of Hastings, MI, is the secretary of the Luke Society Board of Directors and is a former PMT member to Kenya and Mexico.) 

Empowering indigenous Christians

By Dr. Jim Spindler

The Great Commission, which Jesus gave in Matthew 28, makes it clear we, as his disciples, are to go into the whole world spreading the Good News of his Gospel and teaching them the way to a Spirit-filled life.

In the days of colonialism, when missionaries were sent out into the world, missionaries responded to the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the Name of our Lord and Savior. Missionaries took the lead in teaching and disciplining new believers and establishing churches and schools run by the missionaries themselves. This method of missions is still practiced today.

As effective as these evangelistic efforts are, a new approach to missions has emerged.

Christian churches and organizations, like the Luke Society, began to realize that by empowering local, indigenous Christians to carry out their vision for ministry experientially, more people could be reached with Jesus’ message of forgiveness, healing and grace.

There is little doubt that those who live in poverty around the world long for God’s love and grace. In fact, Christianity is growing faster in Africa, Asia and South America than in the modern western world where church attendance is declining.

By coming alongside native Christians who share the Luke Society’s vision for ministry – that is, to be faithful to the Great Commission – we embark on a journey of faith and obedience. We do not take the lead, but let our brothers and sisters who are members of the local culture and speak the language, ride the point. They are the ones directing their ministry to the sick and lost in their community and local culture.

We should act as enablers, advisors, encouragers and providers as they conduct their work for the Kingdom.

This method of missions takes courage and trust. There is always an underlying tendency to want to take over, especially when we see our brothers and sisters stumble. But as enablers, we must not give in to those temptations and desires. We must stand by – sometimes picking them up so that they can resume their mission.

We must remember first of all, it is God’s work. What we do is not our work. It is God’s. Praise be to God for calling us into the mission field in this manner.

My wife, Ellarie, and I have been members of two Partnership Ministry Teams for the Luke Society (Yucatan of Mexico and Nairobi, Kenya). We experienced first hand what it is like to come alongside native Christians in a foreign culture. We found that our directors in both ministries loved the Lord with all their hearts, minds and souls. We found them on fire for the Lord, straining to get into the harvest field.

Yes, there were times when we wanted to take control. But, thankfully, we fought off those temptations. We didn’t speak the language nor did we comprehend the local culture and customs. Furthermore, our directors appreciated the freedom to lead their respective ministries. At the same time, they appreciated the advice, prayer support, financial assistance and ministry ideas that we as PMT members could provide.

Ellarie and I both felt close to our directors and their staffs. We loved visiting our ministry sites at least annually. It was as if they had become part of our family.

By being willing to be enablers, encouragers, providers and advisors for a Luke Society ministry, you will discover that it is one of life’s greatest joys. Considerably more people – perhaps even thousands – will hear the Good News of the Gospel through the local pastors, doctors and staff that live and work to further the Kingdom around the world.

We were truly blest to be a blessing.

Next story:

Reaching families