What does ‘proclaiming the gospel’ look like in reality?
The answer is that it looks different in almost every circumstance.
In fact there are no ‘cookie-cutter’ methods of reaching out with the gospel message. The only common thread is that the local circumstances and environment most often dictate how the gospel is presented. In other words, each unique context is the intersection where the gospel becomes relevant, and these contexts are largely responding to the needs of people.
Above all though, presenting the gospel is about building trusting and lasting relationships, where missionary workers begin to journey with those they meet along the way - joining them on a spiritual walk toward freedom in Christ.
Conversion generally happens slowly and one person at a time. By God’s grace sometimes, but not always, more people follow. Maybe it’s a convert’s immediate family, then their extended family, then whole communities who put their faith in Christ.
However, unlike the world we live in, where instant results seem to be the expectation, church planting takes time and those committed to it often find themselves disheartened and alone. They have the zeal and drive of those first disciples to see the lost come to the Lord - but for some, they see little or no fruit for their efforts - sometimes in their whole lifetime.
And yet these workers remain committed to sharing God’s word by faith and deed. They realize that it’s not what they do but what God does in and through them, even if they don’t see any fruit for their labours.
A quote attributed to missionary pioneer William Carey is as true now as it was then, “I will go down [into India] if you will hold the rope.” In other words, every missionary worker needs a dedicated team of faithful supporters who are willing to keep hold of the rope, to pray for them, and yes, when possible, faithfully financially support the work they are doing...whether or not they see fruit for the worker’s endeavours.
Since 1893, SIM has been engaged in taking the gospel to the least known. We can point to the ‘success’ of those endeavours in statistics where millions - yes millions - have come to know Christ and many thousands of churches have been planted due to committed SIM missionary workers who are supported by a faithful team of pray-ers and financiers.
Thank you ‘rope holders’ for your part in enabling the great commission around the world!