Mekdes Haddis: Our role and God’s role in missions

Arotahi Mission Formation Resources: Is there a pattern in Western church circles where underdeveloped disciples routinely go as disciple makers to other parts of the world? Mekdes Haddis explores how we can form good disciples to be more faithful partner's in God's mission.

The power of Character: A clos­er look at Acts 1:8 shows us the clear instruc­tion and swift strat­e­gy Jesus gives to his dis­ci­ples for mak­ing an impact around the world. It’s a sim­ple and pow­er­ful yet heav­i­ly over­looked mod­el in West­ern Chris­tian­i­ty. The church was birthed on Pen­te­cost when the Holy Spir­it filled the dis­ci­ples with pow­er and sent them on mis­sion. Before that moment, they had been wait­ing dili­gent­ly in prayer and com­mu­ni­ty because they knew going with­out the Holy Spir­it was fruit­less. Their char­ac­ter was devel­oped dur­ing their time with Jesus and after his death and res­ur­rec­tion in their wait­ing. These dis­ci­ples stood up for the rights of the oppressed and con­tin­ued to heal and teach peo­ple just as Jesus had taught them to do.

Being in wor­ship of Christ and in min­istry in the Unit­ed States, I have observed a false dichoto­my in West­ern mis­sion move­ments, one that empha­sizes going some­where far away with­out first mak­ing sure those going have a lifestyle that resem­bles Christ.… I have seen greater empha­sis on ​stay until you’re filled with pow­er” than on ​go and make dis­ci­ples” in oth­er cul­tures who cling on to the pow­er of the Holy Spir­it for their abil­i­ty to be a missionary.

There is in West­ern the­ol­o­gy a lack of empha­sis on prayer, fast­ing, and the teach­ing of Chris­t­ian per­se­cu­tion and iden­ti­fy­ing with Christ in our suf­fer­ing; there­fore we don’t see the fruit of long-suf­fer­ing in believ­ers. This robs the church of the abil­i­ty to not only send but even have faith­ful Chris­tians who can do gospel work where they are. An empha­sis to ​BE” a dis­ci­ple before ​MAK­ING” dis­ci­ples is nec­es­sary if the West­ern church is to remain an essen­tial part of the glob­al mis­sion movement.

The pow­er of a believer’s tes­ti­mo­ny is the ulti­mate weapon of destruc­tion against the ene­my. As seen in Rev­e­la­tion 12:11:

They con­quered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their tes­ti­mo­ny;
for they did not love their lives
to the point of death.

As believ­ers who are called to car­ry the gospel around the world, our abil­i­ty to tes­ti­fy of God’s good­ness in our lives has far more pow­er than our abil­i­ty to indoc­tri­nate others.

Greg Ogden uses the acronym FAT in the book Dis­ci­ple­ship Essen­tials, which stands for faith­ful, avail­able, and teach­able, to describe the peo­ple Jesus invest­ed in and sent off as dis­ci­ple mak­ers. Ogden also incor­po­rates this tool and describes mak­ing dis­ci­ples a few at a time in his book Trans­form­ing Dis­ci­ple­ship, empha­siz­ing char­ac­ter and will­ing­ness as decid­ing fac­tors in whether time and ener­gy should be invest­ed in teach­ing some­one to become a dis­ci­ple mak­er. This is ulti­mate­ly the call to the mis­sion field. We must ask our­selves, ​What type of tes­ti­mo­ny do we have as believ­ers that is wor­thy of spread­ing to the ends of the earth?”

The mis­sion is not an expe­di­tion, nor is it a sto­ry of us sav­ing oth­ers. It is a call to die to self and live for Christ. It is sac­ri­fi­cial, it is cost­ly, it is bru­tal, and it tru­ly is a call to lose our pre­sup­posed iden­ti­ty so we can be one with Christ. Our life is to be eclipsed by his all-con­sum­ing fire that unites us with every­thing he is so that we are sure exam­ples of Christ when the world inter­acts with us.

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