Two Disappointing Questions Concerning GCI Missions I continue to be disappointed at two reoccurring questions that are asked concerning our mission workâ€¦ #1 â€“ But isnâ€™t it against the law to talk about Jesus and convert people? #2 â€“ Is all you do Evangelism and Bible teaching? In answer to the first question, which I was asked concerning my ministry in Russia â€“ â€śBut isnâ€™t it against the law to talk about Jesus and convert people?â€ť In most countries in which we minister, No- it is not against the law to preach and convertâ€”but, in some countries, yes- it is against the law to preach and convert. The latter, however, does not free us from the command of our Lord and Resurrected Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20 " All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Missionaries are sent out to proclaim Christ, plant churches, build up churches and teach the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God. That is exactly what we did in Russia and what we will continue to do wherever we are called to minister. We shared Christ, we built up the church and we taught the holy Scriptures in churches. Many people warned me, â€śYou canâ€™t do thatâ€ť; â€śYou canâ€™t post this on Facebookâ€ť; â€śYou canâ€™t even mention you are a pastor.â€ť This, of course, is not true. All authority is held by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus has commanded me to preach and teach the Gospel - Mark 16:15 " Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.â€ť Since Jesus has commanded it, that is what I do. This is not said arrogantly but in the confidence of Godâ€™s revealed, written will. You do not have to be a missionary, you can be a tourist. There is no sin in being a tourist. As such, you can visit churches on Sunday and be a light for Christ as a Christian but you are under no mandate or compulsion to preach the gospel. But if you claim the title â€śmissionary,â€ť if you raise money as a â€śmissionary,â€ť if you are, in fact, a â€śmissionaryâ€ť - then you preach Jesus. You either are planting or building up the Church and you teach the Holy Scriptures in churches. We do not raise thousands of dollars, travel thousands of miles, separate ourselves from family and friends just to put our feet on the ground in Russia (and the other 27 countries in which we minister.) Our Lord has told us what we must do and we do it. The ball is, then, in the court of the earthly powers at work in the countries to which we are called. They can jail us, expel us, not let us back in or take some other action. That is up to them, but we must obey our God. The revelation of God the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, concerning mission work, could not be more clear Acts 5:27-32 â€śWE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN!!â€ť 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, â€śWe gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.â€ť 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, " We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." The simple fact is that, when the Apostles went out into the Roman Empire, they were entering one of the most evil and anti-Christian, pagan, decadent cultures ever to exist. I know of no culture today as far removed from Christianity than the Roman Empire of the first century. Within this culture, it was not only against the law to preach and convert to Christianity but one had to also publicly profess Caesar as God. Yet the disciples openly preached Jesus, planted and built up the church and taught the Word of God in these churches. In fact, I know of no evangelistic relationship in the Gospels nor the Book of Acts where the person was not brought to a point of decision within the first 24 hours of the encounter. The missionary who spends days, months, even years without bring men to a point of decision, without openly proclaiming Christ, without actively seeking to plant a church is unknown in the Holy Scripture and in the annuls of the early Church. I would be humiliated to go to Russia or any other country and give my report upon my return, â€śPlayed it safe, did not share Christ, did not speak in church, did not pass out Bibles, but I was there.â€ť We are missionaries â€“ called by JESUS and commissioned by the Church. We do not go to foreign lands to be there â€“ we go to preach Jesus, either plant or build up the church and teach the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word. Personally, I would not support a missionary who could not give me a report on those he has asked to receive Christ and of his teaching ministry in the Church. I would rather be put in jail or kicked out of a country for preaching Jesus, teaching the Word and building up the church than to go 100 times without doing these things. The answer to the second question is equally simple. In recent years, my team members report that they are often asked by people in their churches, â€śIs all you do evangelism and Bible teaching?â€ť And the answer is unashamedly â€śYESâ€ť. I remember when I became a Christian in 1968, hearing of fallen denominations that no longer did evangelism and church planting but simply engaged in â€śgood works.â€ť We always felt sorry for these movements. It was said over and over again, â€śWhat good is it if in the end, they spend eternity in Hell?â€ť And this is a valid question. Good works which do not culminate in the presentation of Christ are blatantly dishonest. God the Holy Spirit teaches us in Galatians 2:20-21 â€śI have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.â€ť The only reason we want to do a good work, the only reason we are able to do a good work is because of Jesus. To do a good work without proclaiming Christ is to preach ourselves and not Jesus. It is to take credit by silence for something you would not even dream of doing had it not been for Jesus. Again, God the Holy Spirit instructs us 2 Corinthians 4:5 â€śFor we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.â€ť I remember my son Sam and I discussing this and his application was to make sure the men he supervised at work knew that he as motivated by Christ, that he was a Christian. You know what their response was? â€śOh, we all thought you were a Mormon!â€ť It is a great coup for satan if he can get Christians to do good works and not preach Jesus. That way he can fill in the blank. Think of how many people go home and say to their husband, wife, mother or father, â€śI donâ€™t need Jesus-- (your name) at work is a wonderful person and never once has mentioned Jesus. You can be a great person without Jesus and (your name) is proof!â€ť Notice the record of the Acts of the Apostles, as given to us by God the Holy Spirit. Over and over again the work of the missionary is clear â€“ it is all about Jesusâ€¦ Acts 5:41-42 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 8:12 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Acts 10:36 36 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)
Acts 11:20 & 21 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.
Acts 17:17-19 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities," â€” because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
And how did the Apostle Paul spend his final days waiting for his execution at the hands of the Romansâ€¦ Acts 28:30-31 30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
This is the ministry of Grace Community International I. Preaching Jesus II. Building up the Church by A. Teaching the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word in the Church B. Training leaders for the Church C. Raising up the next generation of Christian marriages and families grounded on the Word
By Godâ€™s grace and your prayers, we will be at this till Jesus comes or till Jesus takes me home. By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon Director Grace Community International â€“ returning from Russia and preparing for departure to Nigeria and Cameroon. Preaching Jesus, Teaching the Word of God, Building up the Church
Acts 18:21 â€śbut taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus.â€ť 1 Corinthians 4:19 â€śBut I will come to you soon, if the Lord willsâ€¦â€ť As this is a subject fresh in my mind (given that I have...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Dear Prayer Warriors, Hebrews 13:7 & 8 â€śRemember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.â€ť My good friend,...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Can you imagine this discussion in the church office, elders meeting or deacon board discussion? â€śThe recent conference speaker came down pretty hard on monogamy and we have had a lot of complaints. I donâ€™t think we should have him back or use...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Ten Days in St. Petersburg, Russia â€¦ Dear Prayer Warriors, As I type this it is snowing hard and Eleanor is packing us up once again (didnâ€™t we just do this?) After a very fruitful ten days in St. Petersburg, Russia, we board Aeroflot for...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
(Special thanks to Mrs. Izaguirre for compiling this report for GCI. Without her research and data assessment this report would not be possible.) Dear Prayer Warriors, Thanks to your faithful and sacrificial partnership with GCI in 2016, the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Dear Prayer Warriors, In the next few weeks I will be posting blogs written by team members who went on mission trips with us this past year. I pray they will be a blessing to you. The second is by Board member Rusty Lacy Romans 1:11-12 â€śI long...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Dear Prayer Warriors, In the next few weeks I will be posting blogs written by team members who went on mission trips with us this past year. I pray they will be a blessing to you. The first is by Board member Richard Smith and his wive Kathy...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
10 Great Doctrines of Christmasâ€¦. Matthew 1:18 â€śNow the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.â€ť The divine revelation of...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Turning Upside-Down Christianity Rightside Up - Christmas Matthew 2:2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." Consider your personal testimony, your home, your Christmas...[ abbreviated | read entire ]