Our Italy mission team leaves this week! Our partnership with the Evangelical Church of Belluno is in its 4th year. God is doing great things in Belluno and the difference in the local church since 2016 is remarkable. Each year the team has gone we have seen new faces and growing enthusiasm. In 2016, we were introduced to Pastor Tommaso and heard his passion for reaching Belluno. In 2017, we officially partnered with him for evangelism in Belluno. In 2018, we saw members of the church in Belluno share the gospel with their neighbors for the first time. One young man was so excited that he actually went up to a stranger and asked, “Has anyone told you today that Jesus loves you?” This year we hope to build on this momentum by coaching the local church to actively reach out into their community in Jesus’ name. Why are we partnering with this church in Belluno? Because “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). Approximately 0.46% of the residents of Belluno considers themselves “Born again” (John 3:3). One vital aspect of our Disciple-making strategy at First Baptist is to Reach as many people as possible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this through grieving, giving, and going in order to make disciples. This includes evangelism and missions in Scott City, Southeast Missouri, and the world.
We will not make disciples unless we first grieve over the lost around us. God have mercy on us if we do not desire that every person come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Actions speak louder than words and we must desire that all people know the love of Christ and find true healing in our broken world. The Apostle Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (Rom 9:2) over his fellow Jews who were not Christians. George Whitefield, the famous preacher of the mid-1700s, is reported to have cried out in a sermon: “You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?” We should not be any less grieved over the eternal state of our unsaved family and friends who are lost and in rebellion against Christ and will go to hell as a result of their sinful rebellion.
The Bible is clear that “the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom” (1 Cor 6:9). In order to inherit God’s kingdom, you must be “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). Acts 4:12 also tells us that Jesus is the only means of salvation. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your friends and family how they may be saved. It is also wise to have Christian friends you trust hold you accountable to do this and encourage you before, during, and after. We must grieve over the lost around us.
One result of grieving over the lost around us is that we will give for the advancement of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul commended the church in Philippi for aiding him in his necessities for the spread of the gospel in Thessalonica. God wants us to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) and sacrificially to the Kingdom of God. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Paul mentioned that the churches of Macedonia “gave according to their means…and beyond their means.” In the early church “there was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold” (Acts 4:34). In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul says Christians should give “as he may prosper.” The prayer of a faithful Christian should be to God: “Lord, it is all yours, guide me to give cheerfully and sacrificially for your glory.” Your giving is vital to the advancement of the Gospel. We regularly give to the Cooperative Program and other Mission Offerings (MMO, Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, etc.) These offerings are a tremendous blessing to countless individuals throughout the world. Our giving is done generously and cheerfully in obedience to Christ.
Another result of grieving over the lost around us is that we will go in Jesus’ name in order to advance the Gospel. We not only desire to give to mission endeavors, we want to be everyday missionaries everywhere. We will prayerfully seek out opportunities to be a witness for Christ. We will love our neighbors and point them to Jesus and connect them to a local church. We desire to go into Scott City and the world and be Jesus’ witnesses. Using Acts 1:8 as our guide for missions engagement:
We Go to the Ends of the Earth
Someone must go so that the lost may hear (Rom 10:14-15). Not everybody can and should go to the ends of the Earth, but someone must be sent. If you are physically able to go, you should let God decide if you should rather than telling God you will not. If you cannot go, you can support those who go with your prayers and giving. Are you willing to go to a foreign and strange land for the gospel? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone for Christ?
We Go to Judea and Samaria (North America)
Maybe God is not calling you to go to the ends of the earth, maybe He is calling you to go somewhere not quite as far. Are you willing to take a weekend away for missions work in other parts of the USA? Are you willing to go to Canada or Mexico? Are you willing to set aside vacation and/or personal time for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ?
We Go to Jerusalem (Greater Scott City area)
Maybe you are not led by God to go to the ends of the earth, but you are called to the greater Scott City area. How do I know this? Because you are here! We are to be everyday missionaries everywhere and that includes where you are right now. There are countless opportunities to reach others with the Gospel. You can pass out Gospel tracts and VBS flyers. You can serve in the nursery, Children’s ministry, Youth ministry. You can be a van rider/driver. You can serve on the meal team. You can help with the Tech team. You can visit homebound and nursing home residents. You can help with Read to Succeed and the Backpack program. You can help with CarePortal. You can serve where you are in Jesus’ name. You can do the good works God has prepared. The question is: “Will you?”