God is passionate to fulfill His mission regarding His wayward world. Because of God’s zeal, those of us who participate in God’s mission are also zealous and passionate. Whether we financially support, send out, pray for, mobilize, or go as missionaries, we are compelled to do so with Spirit-empowered passion. God’s mission is characterized by zeal and passion.
This missiological exploration extends the domain of God’s passion beyond missionaries and their supporters to people, societies, and regions commonly called “mission fields.” That is, God’s mission zeal is not manifested or reflected only in Christians who actively and consciously participate in his mission through finances, sending, praying, recruiting, and going. Rather, the passion with which God works out His mission is also evident among people, societies, and regions that missionaries enter as Christ’s ambassadors. Stated differently, God not only “sends” missionaries to non-believing peoples: he also “brings” missionaries to people, societies, and regions among which He is already at work.
Some Christians might nervously sense some sort of universalistic leaning in such an assertion. Their concern might wonder if seeing God’s passionate zeal at work among the objects of His mission implies seeing God’s universal work of salvation apart from missionaries’ gospel proclamation. Exploring the matter further should alleviate such an understandable concern. At this early juncture, patience is needed to enter a nuanced journey through Scripture, history, and various missiological considerations.
The exploration will identify implications for those who go as, receive, and pray for missionaries. Before spelling out those implications, other important topics need to be examined with care and sensitivity. In particular, the meanings of the important categories of “religious” and religiously “pluralistlc” will be considered. The phrase “God brings missionaries” can then be considered, followed by the aforementioned implications. The anticipated result is that God’s zeal and passion, as well as Christians’ corresponding zeal and passion, will be seen even more deeply and comprehensively than before.
The term “religious” has a specific meaning in certain circles. For Roman Catholics, for example, the “religious” are priests, nuns, and others devoted to full-time vocations in the Church, in distinction from secular employments. In a very different way, a recent evangelical trend is to distinguish the Christian faith from “religious” attempts to please God by human effort. In wider circles, to be “religious” is assumed to mean regular involvement in churches, synagogues, mosques, or similar organizations, as well as faithful observance of such activities as prayer and scripture reading. “Religious” can also connote a high level of importance to people, for example in “religious” devotion to sports or to a regimen of caring for one’s physical well-being.
Several analysts have argued that the Modern West constructed the separate intellectual category of “religion” (Fitzgerald 2007:45-46). Furthermore, some authors have claimed that the Western creation of “religion” carried the sinister purpose of controlling and oppressing others (Asad 1993). All such analyses point out that the rest of the world has maintained a more integrated understanding of life, including dealing with spiritual powers; it was only with the intrusion of modern Western thought that non-Western societies were forced to create new terms to accommodate such an alien, separate category as “religion,” e.g., the Japanese shuukyou (Josephson 2012:1, 11-12; Zuckerman, Galen, Pasquale 2016:39-40).
In the midst of these nuanced and ongoing discussions about the relationship between “religion” and the rest of life, scholars have suggested numerous definitions of “religion” and of being “religious.” Here I am going to bypass those myriad definitions – meaningful and helpful as many of them are – and employ a simple, working understanding that I have used for a number of years in my own teaching and writing: “religion” is “people reacting to God’s inevitable presence.” More than an erudite and academically precise definition, this description of religion is, I believe, a helpful working description of what “religion” entails for human beings.
One important feature of this description is the pointer to God’s initiative in relating to people, hence we “react” to that initiative. Basically people either move toward God in faith or flee out of shame, fear, or guilt. Another key point is that God is actually present with all people – a reality that Latin-based Western theology has termed “omnipresence.” (We should note here that God’s omnipresence per se does not suggest whether divine-human proximity is salvific or judgmental, friendly or antagonistic, loving or angry.) A final nuance is to note that God’s actual presence with all people is “inevitable,” meaning that a fundamental aspect of being human is, as a creature of God made in the Imago Dei, living in close proximity to the Creator God – no matter how ferociously, intentionally, or persistently someone may try and flee. As David the Psalmist puts it, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
As creatures living in responsibility before our Creator, all human beings are constantly “reacting to God’s inevitable presence.”
While we are all therefore “religious,” we human beings are not all alike. Our life situations, backgrounds, personalities, decisions, hopes, languages, cosmologies, philosophical frameworks, relationships, and any number of other traits are in some ways unique, other ways similar, and many ways different from each other. Not surprisingly, the ways in which we each react to God’s presence are in many ways different from how other people react. Those differences, intertwined with our other various traits, essentially constitute the world’s variety or plurality of religious expressions.
The Bible points to two fundamental and contrasting types of human reaction to God’s presence and initiatives towards us: our reactions are positive or negative, for or against, believing or disbelieving, humble or proud, obedient or rebellious, loving or hateful, trusting or sinful. The Dutch philosopher-theologian Herman Dooyeweerd termed these two basic human reactions to God as the “religious antithesis,” or alternative “religious commitments” (Dooyeweerd 1979:79). Corporately, Israel as God’s Old Covenant people and the Church as the New Covenant people of God are specially called to acknowledge the Lord God as One (Deuteronomy 6:4) and Jesus Christ as kurios – Master, King, and Lord (Romans 10:9). Together with the special instructions to Israel and the Church, all human beings everywhere and at all times have been, are, and will continue to be called to bow our knees in humble testimony that the Triune God is the only True and Living God (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10-11). God’s initiative toward and inevitable presence among all human beings is via the rest of creation, including the witness within each human being.
At the same time, these two types of human reaction interrelate with a triad of realities that pull people in one direction or another. In English, these three realities can be identified with terms all beginning with the letter “s”: sin, Satan, and searching. “Sin” is the summation of the negative, rebellious human reaction to God. “Satan” is the leader of spiritual forces still attempting their futile cosmic rebellion against God, all the while trying to enlist human beings in that rebellion. “Searching” is the human longing to react positively and obediently to God, present in the continuing Imago Dei within all human beings. Hence the dichotomous, mutually exclusive “for or against God” human reactions are intermingled with the ongoing triad of realities that tug at human beings’ loyalties.
As already noted, the variety or plurality of specific expressions, facets, and emphases of individual human beings’ and of human communities’ reactions to God constitute the world’s religious plurality. Rather than hermetically sealed “systems” of belief and practice to which human beings choose to adhere, the individual and corporate expressions, facets, and emphases of human beings’ reactions to divine initiative and presence are combinations of (1) one or the other fundamental reactions to God, (2) the ongoing realities of sin, Satan, and searching, and (3) individual and corporate traits, environments, backgrounds, habits, patterns, and values. It is among this religious plurality that Christians live, witness, and serve.
GOD BRINGS MISSIONARIES
The good news of Jesus Christ is that God has taken special initiative to restore and re-create all peoples throughout the vast tapestry of humanity that fell into rebellion against God. Individually and collectively, all human beings trapped within the world’s sinful and satanic rebellion are still moved to search for their inevitably present Creator. Our merciful, gracious Creator rescues and frees entrapped human beings by specially bringing to them the special news of the special divine initiative taken in the Life, Death, Resurrection, and Reign of Jesus Christ. While God has demonstrated the freedom to bring that special news through dreams, visions, literature, and other experiences to which numerous Christian believers have testified, God’s method of using missionaries to bring or transmit the special news of the uniquely special Jesus Christ is what we are considering in this study. To state the matter plainly, God brings missionaries to human beings who are variously reacting to Him throughout the world.
Citing just a few well-known biblical examples of God bringing missionaries to people will illustrate this pivotal point. The book of Jonah opens, then repeats halfway through, by stating that God was angry with the Ninevites. That is, along with and independently of His dealings with the Old Covenant people of Israel, and as part of his inevitable presence with all of his rebellious image bearers throughout the world, God was understandably and justly angry with the disobedient, proud Ninevites. Even so, this just, righteous, holy, gracious, merciful, and holy God brought a special messenger to the rebellious Ninevites whom He still loved deeply: Jonah the prophet. Jonah of course refused at first to heed God’s directive regarding the Ninevites, but God’s grace to the Ninevites included His firm but gracious dealings with Jonah. The omnipresent, patient God brought the news of His justice and mercy to the Ninevites through His missionary Jonah.
Consider also Rahab, in Jericho. She had heard, and trembled, about God’s judgment being brought on nearby peoples through the invading Joshua and Israelites, Instead of blindly and foolishly following those peoples’ ongoing course leading to judgment and final estrangement from God, Rahab acknowledged what would befall her family when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at Jericho, and she feared God. When the Israelite reconnaissance spies came to her house, Rahab recognized a special opportunity to join the Creator’s special people He was bringing into Canaan. Whereas the predominant role of Israel’s coming, with respect to the Canaanite peoples, was to bring God’s judgment (as forecast to Abraham in Genesis 15:16), for Rahab God brought the Israelites for her restoration to the Creator, the One she feared but for Whom she had longed and searched.
An explicit example from the New Testament of God bringing missionaries involves Cornelius and the coming of Peter in Acts 10. God gave Cornelius a vision that a messenger would come, and God persuaded Peter through a series of visions to go. Just as with Jonah going to Nineveh and Joshua entering Canaan, Peter went to Caesarea according to God’s command; God sent each of them to deal with the people where they were going. But that is not the whole story: God brought Peter to Cornelius, with whom God had already and inevitably been present.
The same was true with the Apostle Paul and all the cities, synagogues, and markets he entered: God brought him to those people, whether in Lyconium, Corinth, or Ephesus. It has always been true of God’s emissaries and ambassadors – His missionaries – throughout the generations: God has brought them to people with whom He had already been present. The same is true today: God in His loving mission of salvation and restoration brings missionaries to people all over the world.
Israel’s two spies were sent to Jericho as surveillance preparation for a military invasion. We do not know how it was that Rahab met them, but she not only hosted them but put herself at great risk by deceitfully hiding them from the Jericho authorities. The spies must have carried into Jericho feelings of hostility, fear, stress, mistrust, and focused observation. Surely Rahab’s kindness, bravery, and expressed loyalty to the God of Israel must have given the spies additional feelings of surprise, gratitude, and admiration of this foreign woman.
As for Jonah, he was deeply upset when he witnessed God’s mercy to the Ninevites. While Jonah had preached God’s coming judgment on those to whom God had sent him, God instead poured out His great and abiding love on the Ninevites to whom He had brought Jonah. On top of that, God firmly and patiently instructed Jonah in order to change his small-minded and nationalistic heart, as well as to broaden the scope of his understanding of God’s merciful treatment of the world’s peoples.
Peter’s experience of being sent to Cornelius’s house took him through repugnance and astonishment (at God’s command to eat unclean animals); resignation and resolve (to accompany Cornelius’s messengers to Caesarea); then, fervor and again astonishment (as Cornelius’s household believed when Peter preached to them). Clearly, God was working and guiding throughout Peter’s experience of the rooftop visions, his actually going to and entering Cornelius’s house, and the signs of the Spirit’s falling on Cornelius and his household. As Peter later relayed to the other apostles about the whole episode, he had become increasingly convinced that God’s love was for “the Gentiles also” (Acts 11:18).
Much space is given in the New Testament to Paul’s attitudinal change from hatred of Christians to zealous devotion to Christ and His mission. Christian missionaries since apostolic times have testified to how their attitudes, feelings, understandings, and very lives have changed and grown through God guiding them into and then working through cross-cultural missionary experience. As with Jonah, the spies to Jericho, and Peter, the specifics of how missionaries have changed through those various experiences differ. Even so, one constant feature (among others) is how missionaries have come to recognize, in one way or another, God’s presence and involvement with people prior to their own arrival among them as missionaries.
That is, missionaries who grow through their cross-cultural adventures awaken to God’s having brought them to the people they were sent to serve. Even if some of those missionaries never consciously shift from an understanding of their having taken God to godless people, at some intertwined psychological, philosophical, emotional, and spiritual level they have met God in their mission setting in new, profound, and life-changing ways.
To describe that process from an etic or outsider’s perspective, the omnipresent God brings or moves missionaries into settings different than they have experienced before. He does so in order to instruct, change, shape, and sanctify them into the particular Christlike image He has created and redeemed them to become. From an emic or missionary’s perspective, God was preparing and waiting for my arrival in my missionary setting – or in the customary military language, my “mission field” – so that He could teach and disciple me in ways that I would not, or even could not, have learned and grown had He not brought me here. Though assuming I had brought God to my mission field, actually God brought me here to use me, yes, but also to change me.
Such a missionary realization deeply affects an array of accompanying attitudes about the context where one is serving. The missionary’s thinking goes something like this: “If God has brought me to this mission field even with all of its non-Christian religious fabric, which means that God was present and working here prior to my showing up, how can I not respect, even be humbled by, this setting much more than if God had not been here (or if I had assumed that He were not here)?” That respect and humility extends into all sorts of related areas, for example food, how families function, how children are raised, what feels “beautiful,” or what looks “clean.” The respect can also include even the non-Christian religious expressions of people in that context, particularly if the missionary understands those expressions to be tied more to people’s reactions than to an alleged alien or hostile system per se. Moreover, insofar as a missionary’s understanding is that it is the One, True, and Living God Who is fundamentally eliciting people’s reactions by His inexorable presence, and that this One, True, and Living God loves these human beings deeply and wishes their restoration to Him, then to relate to people humbly and respectfully is the only appropriate attitude to have.
In addition, missionaries can minister the Gospel with deeper zeal and confidence based on knowing that God has preceded them. Not only has God prepared people for the missionary’s ministry, but the Spirit of God will guide the contextualizing process of making the news of Jesus, the Gospel, understandable. Evangelicals often lay emphasis on the missionary’s responsibility for contextualization, whereas in reality the Spirit of God, in direct relation to the hearers with whom He has already been present and dealing, is primarily responsible for contextualization. Again, resting in the Spirit’s responsibility gives deeper zeal and confidence to weak and culturally awkward missionaries.
Furthermore, a missionary’s attitude of humility and respect toward one’s particular mission field, based on God’s prior and ongoing presence, is to assume a learner’s posture about all sorts of matters. Such learning includes, of course, various cultural aspects of the missionary’s new setting, be it language, daily customs, history, values, proverbial wisdom, or religious practices. Perhaps a more difficult learning endeavor concerns the missionary’s own cultural background. By allowing the new cultural setting to serve as a comparative mirror, the missionary can reflect on and dig deeply into the nature of one’s own country and culture, including its religious traits. Speaking personally, it was through my cross-cultural missionary experience in Japan, including through encountering God there in unexpected ways, that I was able to realize some traits of the United States of America that had been invisible to me before. Regarding religious matters, I came to new understandings about claims for the biblical or Christian foundations of the U.S. (and of “Western Civilization” by extension). I came to believe that people’s reactions to God’s inescapable presence are always mixed or religiously pluralistic, including throughout Western history.
It is important explicitly to mention as well how missionaries learn more about God through encountering Him among different settings. Human beings want to confine and domesticate God in ways that make Him less sovereign over our lives and societies. Especially when people are monolingual and monocultural, we assume – even if we do not mean to – that God is my people’s god or my country’s god. Meeting God in new settings helps to break us free from our futile attempts to manage or restrict God to my people’s deity that basically exists to serve my people’s needs, desires, and purposes. I can testify personally that, before I left my English-speaking U.S. setting, I unwittingly worshiped an English-speaking U.S. god. Only after realizing that God had brought me and my family to Japan as missionaries, and only after I began to relate with God in Japanese and not only English, did I begin to understand more fully the biblical God as the Creator-Redeemer of all peoples. In short, God became unmanageable to me through bringing me out of my comfortable monocultural setting into the adventure of cross-cultural, multilingual living.
This section seeks to move beyond an etic description of people who receive missionaries that God brings to them. Such an etic perspective is important, and indeed the section will begin there. Even so, the emic, experiential side of receiving missionaries is of central importance and will be taken up shortly hereafter.
From a third-party observer’s point of view, as mission recipients realize that God brings missionaries to them they are helped in connecting their pre-missionary sensibilities about God with the God about Whom the missionary gives testimony. Failing to realize that connection – put differently, seeing only a total disconnect between their inherited religious sensibilities and the missionary’s religious message – leads to the all too common assumption that the God and religion of the missionary are totally foreign. That conclusion will of course be difficult to overcome anyway, given the cross-cultural nature of missionary communication. People’s sin and satanic enslavement will only capitalize on the tendency to keep the news of Jesus Christ distant and non-threatening, which makes connecting recipients’ genuine searching for the One, True, and Living Creator-Redeemer all the more vital and important.
To return to the biblical examples cited earlier, the Ninevites recognized something familiar in Jonah’s message. That is, when Jonah preached what God had told him – namely, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” – the Scriptures record that “the people of Nineveh believed God [Elohim]” (Jonah 3:2-5). The Creator-Redeemer from Whom they had fled, Whom they had resisted, against Whom they had rebelled, and Whom they had angered was the same Creator-Redeemer that they had sensed, and for Whom they had searched to know. They did not simply believe in “the foreign God of Israel”; rather, they “believed God” Who spoke specially through the missionary that the same God Who had been present previously had brought to them.
There was a similar recognition and connection for Rahab and for Cornelius. The Bible does not tell us the specific languages that were used in these instances – were there translators present, for example? – but somehow the Creator-Redeemer of the Ninevites, Rahab, and Cornelius brought special good news that was not totally foreign and unintelligible, even though their varying previous reactions to God had been different from those of Israel or the Christian Church.
As also noted earlier, it is vitally important to try as well to enter into a more emic, experiential consideration of mission recipients. Those of us who have become Christian directly from different religious traditions, particularly if conversion came through the witness of a cross-cultural missionary, can perhaps easily relate to how learning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ involves encountering something new and different, yes, but also something familiar and not totally foreign. Entering into that experience may be more difficult for those of us who were born into a Christian environment; yet, any human being’s repentance from rebellion to faith involves the experience of moving from darkness into Christ’s Kingdom of Light. Those of us raised in a Christian environment can also learn through study and imagination what it was like for our pre-Christian ethnic ancestors to learn of Jesus for the first time. God brought news of forgiveness, restoration, and freedom, and by His grace and mercy we returned to the One Who had made us and loved us.
As Lamin Sanneh has taught us (Sanneh 2009), Africans recognized the God that Western missionaries preached through the translations of Scripture, catechisms, and liturgies. Despite European arrogance and unawareness of anything valuable in African religious sensibilities, Africans recognized the Bible’s translated message as speaking of their God and His love for them. For example (and to assume an emic African position), to me as a Yoruba Christian, Odolumare our traditional Supreme Creator is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, to me as an Akan Christian, Nyame, traditionally “he who knows and sees everything,” brought the messengers of Nana Jesu, or the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Gospel we Africans have heard through the European missionaries has connected with our ancestors’ religious sensibilities in such a way that it is good news for us, a reconciling message from our Creator-Redeemer.
In various parts of Asia (again assuming an emic position), Shangdi, Hananim, Tuhan, and even Kami-sama was present and active before He brought the message of Jesus to us. Our pre-Christian ancestors could not fully know the One True and Living God apart from His special message of Jesus Christ, so He brought that message in ways that confirmed He is our loving and gracious Creator-Redeemer. Our ancestors consciously followed paths that were different from Christianity; they did not worship in churches or read the Bible; and, they were enslaved to the lies of Satan and their own sinful rebellion. Even so, all the while Shangdi, Hananim, Tuhan, Kami-sama – that is, the One also called by all sorts of other names as well – has been there all along, beckoning our ancestors to acknowledge Him as their One, True, and Living Creator-Redeemer.
Some Evangelicals might find it difficult to distinguish such an understanding of God’s presence with all people, including His pre-Christian presence, from what has been termed Christian Inclusivism. That position asserts that followers of non-Christian religions unwittingly, but actually, follow and trust in Jesus Christ, Who thus saves all faithful religious people. Hence all religious people are included in God’s saving work in Jesus Christ, rather than God exclusively saving only those who consciously trust in Jesus Christ. While similarities with Inclusivism may be inferred, this study’s understanding is fundamentally different. Recall the triad described earlier of sin, Satan, and searching among all people. God’s presence evokes people’s reactions including, in some form and to varying degrees, searching after him. Even so, apart from specially hearing about and specifically trusting in Jesus Christ, people are also enslaved to sinful rebellion and live under satanic influence. While this distinction between Inclusivism and this study’s description of God’s presence is a nuanced one, it is also a fundamental distinction that must not be forgotten.
For those of us who are English speakers, it is helpful for us to realize that the term “god” derives from the Germanic gott, which perhaps referred to “the spirit immanent in a burial mound” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Generations later we English speakers are quite comfortable referring to the Elohim and Theos of Scripture as “God,” illustrating yet again how He was inevitably present with our pre-Christian ancestors, since we have continued the same terminology in addressing Him. The God of the Bible is indeed the omnipresent God of all peoples, eliciting various reactions and graciously bringing the gracious news of Jesus to us. The God of Israel, the God and Father of the Nazarene Jesus, is our God, our Creator-Redeemer.
PRAYING FOR MISSION
How does acknowledging God’s pre-Christian presence with all peoples, along with recognizing that He has been bringing missionaries to peoples throughout the earth across the generations, affect the way Christians pray for missions, missionaries, and the people to whom missionaries come? A familiar pattern of prayer is to focus on the missionaries: their needs, their empowerment, and their usefulness. Prayers for people in mission fields, if offered at all, might focus on their need to be freed from sin and Satan, as well as be given spiritual eyes to see that to which heretofore they have been blind. Are these types of prayers appropriate or adequate?
An initial and fundamental point regards the One to Whom we pray, namely God Himself. As noted earlier regarding missionaries’ expanded understandings of God through cross-cultural experience, Christian prayers for missions are to be addressed to the Creator-Redeemer of all peoples, the God of the whole earth. However, usually unwittingly prayers for missions are addressed to the God of my nation, Whom we implore to work “out there” in the mission field to make “our” missionary’s work effective. Insofar as we pray for the people in the mission field, the request is for God to reach them despite all sorts of linguistic, cultural, and religious barriers.
In praying to the God of the whole earth and of all peoples, Christians are to recognize that God is just as close to all peoples as He is to me and my kind of people. There are no linguistic, cultural, or religious barriers to overcome for this Creator-Redeemer of all kinds of people throughout the world. The “religious” barriers we might mentally erect are simply various forms of people’s reactions to God rather than different, hermetically sealed “systems” of belief and practice that bear no relation to each other. God is among all people, and He loves the Ninevites and every other type of human being without distinction. Christians can rest assured of God’s nearness to and full awareness of all people, thus fueling bold and wide-sweeping prayers to this great God of the entire universe.
In turn, prayer for missions can and must be offered beyond the missionaries that churches and agencies have sent out. While supporting missionaries in prayer is vitally important, so is praying for the peoples to whom God has brought them and among whom they are serving, Christians and non-Christians alike. Prayers for all aspects of life and faith can be offered, since God’s presence and concern affect all matters related to people throughout the earth. God hears the prayers of Christians for people spread throughout the earth, for He is near to them and loves them dearly.
Related is the need for Christians to pray for peoples and situations not directly related to the missionaries they have sent out. Missions prayer is offered to God, not simply to the God of “our” missionaries. Insofar as we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done throughout the earth, we are to pray for God to work among all kinds of situations and peoples among which God is present and working.
In our prayers for missionaries, we can pray for their growth and sanctification through their cross-cultural experience. In related fashion, we can pray that God will use missionaries to teach us who have not gone out cross-culturally. We have much to learn of God, the peoples of the world, and all sorts of situations through emissaries that have gone and that God brings back to us. God’s work is not restricted to our structures or efforts, and our Spirit-led prayers for missions can also grow in extent and across boundaries that are no challenge whatsoever to the God to Whom we pray.
Throughout the colorful tapestry of human communities and traditions around the world, God the Creator-Redeemer is present and pursuing people to acknowledge Him as their God. He has always been dealing with all people, and all people throughout all generations are responsible to God their Maker. In His mercy God has been guiding special emissaries to bring the special news to people of how He has worked to restore us to our Creator-Redeemer. He alone is God, and He alone is capable of managing such a massive restoration project.
We, who have heard, believed, and now follow Jesus Christ are privileged and responsible to participate with God in His project to restore the world. The people He guides to move are to follow Him into people and settings where He brings them. There, missionaries will enter into how God has already been moving. They will also meet God in ways unimaginable to them before. All of us who pray are to plead with this great, universal Creator-Redeemer to continue to work in people’s lives and to give further glimpses among communities today of His coming Kingdom.
We need not fear how people who are not yet followers of Jesus exhibit their reactions to God. We are to pray that God will continue to work, and that He will bring missionaries to wherever He desires. God is zealously committed to assemble representatives of all peoples in His Kingdom. He is also zealously committed to grow and shape us His people into those who understand and praise Him for His greatness and goodness in relation to all peoples of the earth.
The missions enterprise demands nothing less that our wholehearted and zealous commitment. We can rest assured that the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish His mission (Isaiah 9:7). May we His people zealously and passionately go, come, and pray as He inspires and directs us.
Asad, Talal (1993). Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Dooyeweerd, Herman (1979), Roots of Western culture; Pagan, Secular and Christian options. Wedge Publishing Company. Cf. Basden, Andrew (2000). “The Dooyeweerd Pages,” http://dooy.info/ground.motives.html#relig.
Fitzgerald, Timothy (2007). Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. Oxford University Press.
Josephson, Jason Ananda (2012). The Invention of Religion in Japan.University of Chicago Press.
Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/god.
Sanneh, Lamin (2009). Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture. 2nd Edition. Orbis Books.
Zuckerman, Phil; Galen, Luke; Pasquale, Frank (2016). “2. Secularity around the World,” in The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies. Oxford University Press.
J. Nelson Jennings
Dr. J. Nelson Jennings currently serves with Onnuri Church (Seoul) as Mission Pastor, Consultant, and International Liaison. He previously served with his family in Japan for 13 years, 1986-1999. Jennings teaches, preaches, writes, and encourages research,including as editor of Global Missiology-English and with the WEA’s Community of Mission Information Workers.