My friends Scott and Karen worked for one of the largest missions organizations in the world. Mexico, Central America, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf: Scott and Karen traversed the globe for nearly twenty years, aiding indigenous people groups and living out the love and witness of Christ. It all came to a grinding halt, however, when the mission organization for which they worked deemed their medical mission financially unsustainable, but completely for reasons other than shrinking dollars and cents.
Simply, not enough people were becoming Christians. Conversions. Baptisms. Increasing numbers of those who have “prayed the sinner’s prayer.” Public professions of faith. Churches being planted and cross-topped buildings being constructed. These were the outcomes that were required by the mission executives. When these outcomes were not forthcoming, the organization refused to keep pouring dollars into such an “unreceptive region.”
Scott and Karen pleaded with the mission’s executives to reconsider this decision. Their medical facility was serving an entire region of needy people, treating tens of thousands of patients a year. A part of the world that had been antagonistic was finding it increasingly difficult to hate those who were loving, medicating, and saving their children and elders. A mission executive responded to the pleas of Scott, Karen, and the medical staff with these words: “We have no obligation to the bodies of those whose souls are going to hell.”
Is this really the gospel? Is it “Good News” when we reduce the love of God to simple statistics or counting the numbers who pray a specific, mechanical prayer? Can we, with any integrity, disregard the crushing misery of people today, if those needs are not spiritual in nature, and say we are following the way of Jesus?
The “Good News,” as Jesus proclaimed it, is not an evacuation plan to rescue people from earth, or an insurance policy for the afterlife. Rather, it is a revolutionary strategy to redeem the sufferings of this world by putting the rule and reign of heaven inside people, something Jesus called the kingdom of God.
We have the chance, if we will take it, to become catalysts and conduits of the very real kingdom of God in today’s world, because the present – not the future – is where we follow Jesus. Today – not tomorrow – “is the day of salvation,” and the prayer “thy kingdom come” is more than words. It is our calling.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.