From the Pastor’s Desk : Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
Transform and equip members to be “ambassadors for Christ,” how?
Last time I shared with you all the what’s and why’s of being “ambassadors for Christ.” Indeed, Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, was an “ambassador for Christ” par excellence. He refers to himself as “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle (the sent one), set apart for the gospel of God.” (Rm 1:1) I am so glad that we in the Christian and Missionary Alliance have got it right – the two foci that bind us together are: the deeper life and global mission. We are to grow deeper in Christ so as to be His ambassadors (missionaries), both near (our Jerusalem – Richmond) and far (the ends of the earth – Global Advance.)
The pandemic and the new normal have made me realize our mission can no longer be measured by the work of a handful of “trained” pastors and international workers, nor by the proximity or distance of our “mission field.” I remember the words of Moravian missionary Count Zinzendorf who declared (in early 18th century): “Missions, after all, is simply this: Every heart with Christ is a missionary, every heart without Christ is a mission field.” At a time like ours, we need every Christian to be an “ambassador” (missionary) and every contact we have (both physically and via the internet) as our “mission field!” Indeed we are all missionaries and the mission fields are at our finger tips. This is exactly what “priesthood of all believers” mean!
We need to have a paradigm shift in our “church and mission” strategies and we cannot be contended with reforms here and there, now and then. Our renewed call to “transformation” (Romans 12:1,2) is forced upon us as we are challenged by the prolonged pandemic, when we cannot returned to our old normal and cannot do business as usual. We need to rethink and reimagine what it means to be a member of RCAC!
But how? Let’s start with training
Well, I am sure there are 101 ways to respond to this question, and each of us has some ideas that will help in this process! What remains is actually to coordinate our efforts with one accord, which is the very spirit of the Great Commission. We have always believed in this as it is nothing new. We only need to do it more diligently and intentionally.
But whatever strategies we use, we need to start with training. This is because the challenge we face is great, and in the pandemic, we face new situations that require using wisely all the training and skills we have and adapt them to the ever changing challenges. We can think of training in four main areas: training in the Word, in godliness, in building up the Church and in spiritual battle.
1. Training in the Word:
First and foremost we need to know the Word of God even more deeply than before. Paul instructs his spiritual son Timothy saying, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) The Scripture is of paramount importance first of all because it is God-breathed, inspired by God Himself, and is practical and useful in our learning, discipline, reformation and a sanctified life. The emphasis here is the building up of the character of the soldier of Christ, “the ambassadors for Christ.” It is so encouraging to see so many of our people take advantage of the online courses and seminars during this pandemic. There are also many opportunities in our Church, e.g. Ten Steps Bible Studies Method (in Chinese). In October I am also going to start a “Diving Deeper” Zoom time in Cantonese every Sunday at 2 p.m. for sharing with members.
2. Training in godliness:
Apart from training in the Word, Paul urges Timothy to be trained in godliness – “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”(I Timothy 4:8) Paul elaborates this in his letter to Titus, for it is the grace of God that has come to bring us salvation and then “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:12) Let no one be just filled with head knowledge, and is unable to live out the Word of God. An ambassador for Christ must be a person of strong moral character against the corruptions of this world. So we are glad to see that during the pandemic, there are more people attending all our prayer meetings, as it is an exercise in godliness.
3. Training for building up the Church:
Paul reminds us that the equipping of the saints (sanctified people of God) is first of all, for the building up of the Church. He says, God has gifted different people “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12) Christians are to build up one another by caring genuinely for each other, and bringing the Church to maturity. There are presently certain groups in our Church taking special training in caring ministries. In October, I will have a special series on mental health in Cantonese which will include areas like depression, anxiety, broken heart syndrome and PTSD.
4. Training in spiritual battle:
To the Christians in Ephesus, Paul concludes his teaching with this word: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Eph. 6:13) As said often, we are equipped to serve. Let us take every piece of the armor of God and be prepared for battle. We are actually in a spiritual battle in the Coronavirus pandemic, and we can win with God’s help, and be able to stand firm against the onslaught of the devil. So the ambassador for Christ becomes the soldier for Christ, following Christ our commander. Even though we have to postpone our entire major evangelism program (Alpha Course) and short-term missions, we are still carrying on training in Evangelism Explosion and Kairos (mission). We are glad that we can go ahead with our baptism during Thanksgiving this year, and we are glad that there are many candidates, including many from the Putonghua congregations. Praise the Lord!
We can of course do more. Each congregation can also think of creative ways to represent Christ to those whom we are in contact. We should not wait for people to come to us; rather we should reach out physically or virtually. Christ was the Word that became flesh, that dwelled (tabernacle) among us, in order to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Christ said as the Father had sent Him, so He has sent us into the world, and to be His witnesses. We are sent to the world but we are not of the world. Our ministry therefore should be incarnational. Let us in RCAC be the salt and light to the world, as we all fulfill our call to be “ambassador for Christ.”
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee