The book of Jonah has much to say to contemporary Christians. Those in the Western Church should particularly take the time to re-examine their own lives in light of the teachings found in this powerful story. Let me illustrate some of the lessons we can find in Jonah.
1) Jonah shows us our failure to share God’s concerns for the salvation of others. Why else would the Western church spend so much time and money on itself and not on evangelizing those who have yet to hear the gospel? Why else would Christianity be shrinking in the Western world? We have failed to preach the good news of the kingdom – repentance of sin. Yes I believe that salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9) and that He has elected those He will save. I also believe He has elected us, His servants, to be the means by which that salvation is offered. Otherwise He would simply take us to heaven the moment we were born again. We are called to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Why has it taken 2,000 years and we still have thousands of unreached, unengaged people groups on our planet? The church needs to call a worldwide fast and solemn assembly for repenting to God of our blatant disregard of a simple command. As Jonah was unconcerned for the spiritual needs of the Ninevites, we are unconcerned with the spiritual needs of much of the world.
2) Jonah shows us our failure to value souls more than gourds. A mere pittance is spent by the church on missions compared with the latest gadgets, gizmos and large sanctuaries here at home. Instead of using those blessings to penetrate the darkness we have become enamored with our toys and value them more than souls. If it took all we had, if we had to bankrupt every church to see one soul come to salvation, it would be a bargain. A soul is of unbelievable worth – in fact, a human soul is worth the price of God’s Son dying to redeem it.
3) Jonah shows us our failure to let the love of God cast out our hatred of men. Just as Jonah believed the Ninevites deserved punishment (which, in fact, they did) we believe certain people are deserving of punishment. What we fail to realize is that all of have been given grace, shown unmerited mercy and favor with God who expects us to show that same kind of love and mercy to all people. This includes those trapped in Islam, spiritualism, Buddhism and all the other religious and political belief systems that exist. We cannot pick and choose who is deserving and yet we do — just crunch the number of missionaries to Sub-Saharan Africa versus the Middle East or those to South America versus SE Asia. We cannot play it safe and only concentrate on “safe” countries. God is no respecter of persons and neither should we be. Instead of that great Caribbean 10 day trip to play religious tourist, what about Bhutan or Japan where it takes actual courage to evangelize? Like Jonah faced going to Assyria?
4) Jonah shows us that our personal responsibility is to be involved in the saving of souls. If one gets nothing else out of the book of Jonah, this should slam you between the eyes. We are called by God to proclaim the good news to everyone. A Savior has come to the world. Forgiveness of sins is possible. A new life is being offered by God to all who will respond. And we are guaranteed by Scripture to see people from every tribe, tongue and nation accept this message. This is what gives us hope to go to Assyria and beyond, in the knowledge that God’s Word will not return void when it is sent out
Ta Ethne would like to take the time to thank Now Jesus Ministries of Michigan for partnering with us. They have given a sizable donation which will enable us to go on mission to SE Asia early in 2013. This trip has been in the planning stages for almost 18 months and now it will become a reality. This will be our 6th trip into the area and it is exciting to see what was once an unreached people group hold baptism services for the many new believers coming to Christ. More and more are being discipled and taking the message to neighboring villages.
You can check out Now Jesus Ministries at http://www.nowjesus.org
We have been working in China since 2005. During that time we have seen villages, who never before had a witness for Christ, not only receive the message but establish churches. From out of their own peoples, they have raised up leaders, sending them to study theology in places far away and seeing them come home and raise up still more leaders. The gospel is spreading rapidly but the need is still great. Simply put, the sheer number of people in China make it a daunting task to give everyone a witness.
We have been privileged to work with some amazing national workers who are both fearless and faithful. One of our highlights has been holding ordination services for 2 church pastors who have started churches in rural villages. Another highlight was an unplanned meeting with a group of believers who were meeting together. We literally stumbled upon them and realized that the song they were singing was Amazing Grace. We joined in, surprising them as they didn’t realize we were in the building. What a joyous time we had praising God together, English and Chinese voices lifted together. Contacts were made and friendships formed.
We have done more work in China than any other country but cannot reveal where or what for their safety. Suffice it to say that we are so grateful for the awesome privilege of working with the amazing believers in this great country.
On the Road to Share the Gospel
Crossing Barriers to Share the Gospel
- Helping to build schools and garner goodwill
The Rocky Boy’s reservation in NorthCentral Montana is a wonderfully wild place. Beautiful mountain vistas, sweeping plains, herds of pronghorns and deer – Rocky Boy is truly a beautiful place to visit and photograph. Rocky Boy is also a place where we have a mission church. Our mission pastor for the last 12 years, who has done an amazing job, has retired. With sadness, I helped load his moving truck today as they headed off to the next adventure God has in store for them. We are now in the process of seeking another mission pastor to serve with us.
The people of Rocky Boy are Chippewa Cree, although one can find Flathead, Cherokee, Sioux, Kiowa, Crow and any number of other nationalities represented. The work here is hard, and it takes a person called by God to work with Native Americans. We have been so blessed for the last dozen years that the task of finding a new pastor for the work is daunting. Would you pray for us as we seek God’s will in finding who He wants to partner with us in the beautiful, spiritually needy place?
Perhaps the most rewarding of all our overseas trips was to the wonderful country of Malaysia. Fantastic hospitality, great food and dedicated disciples made for a successful trip. We went, at the request of churches there, to hold discipleship training events and interactive question and answer sessions on any topic they picked. We met in three different cities (Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur) over 6 days. Presbyterians, Baptists, Assembly of God, Lutheran, Independents, and others all gathered together and shared with us and each other. Kudos to Canaanland Christian Book Store over there who made sure our teaching materials were in place and who provided us with a guide/translator who became a close friend with each of our teammates. Lifelong friendships, nay, eternal friendships were made as lives were shared with each other.
We learned so much that week – more, I’m sure, than we imparted to them. How inspiring it was to receive VCD’s of churches taking our training and showing us the ministries they came up with based on the training. Many ideas we have shared with churches in the states. I firmly believe that by working together and gaining insights from each other, churches around the globe can strengthen and edify each other. We have things we can teach, we have things we can be taught.
Please, pray for the Malaysian church. Great people ministering in a Muslim country, many facing increased persecution. They are strong in the faith, eager to share their witness, great examples for the worldwide church of God. Visit there, get to know the people, worship in a church with them. We did, and gained so much from it. How joyful it was to find such exuberant Christianity among the believers. God willing, we will be invited back to share with them once again.
One of our missions here at Ta Ethne is helping churches to change from being missions-minded to becoming missions-active. To that end, one of the resources we offer is The Quest – a handbook that walks a church through the transition process. The Quest has been a huge success, but surprisingly in Great Britain rather than the United States. Could it be that churches in England recognize the problem more clearly than American churches? Or, maybe, are English churches less prideful and more willing to admit their problems and ask for help. Here in the US I run into church after church that believes they are active missionally, only to discover that they mean they give monetary support or take a “missions” trip once a year. A church that is truly missional is active 24/7, 365 days a year in ministering to people all over the globe. They sacrifice, sweat and pray. They change their priorities and their funding to be less about themselves and more about God’s Kingdom. They aren’t worried about adding staff, buildings or making cloned copies of themselves over multiple campuses. They are committed to making disciples across the globe. They are as concerned about people and events in Laos as well as Lincoln, as at home ministering in Florence as in Florida. They look and act different because they are different.
If your church is tired of playing and dreaming of being used by God to actually impact the entire world for Christ, please contact us to schedule a consultation or a seminar. Check out The Quest on Amazon as a starting guide and help to change your church’s DNA.