Saji Thomas

“ Missions for God’s Glory:Retrospect & Prospects”
Saji Thomas
The Legacy. Bethel Baptist Church is a Missional church. It’s Missional legacy started with the arrival of American missionaries Rev. Fred & Mrs. Dorothy Waldock, along with few missionaries in the late 1970s. The work progressed as Pastor Ken & Mary Waldock joined the team. Pastor Ken went on to constitute the fellowship of believers into a church and was the pastor for the next 23 years!
The business notes of Bethel in the early days show that the church became interested in reaching a new community in the Kolar Gold Fields. To God be the glory that the work there also grew into a church.
In the providential leading of God, several from the early church body in KGF moved to Bangalore and helped constitute the Bethel Baptist Thiruchabai, which is celebrating its 10 year alongside and helped constitute the Bethel Baptist Thiruchabai, which is celebrating its 10 year alongside our 25 . Few others from KGF moved to Ramgiri in Andhra Pradesh where two other churches are being established now. Along with the Thiruchabai, we also helped start a Nepali congregation. So goes the story of our missional legacy.
Retrospect. When we contemplate the past from the present, somehow we have a better perspective. The retrospect provides for some reflection and evaluation. We will consider two questions here:
Could we have done more within our potential for Missions in general? And, maybe more specifically,
Could we have to helped these five congregations emerge as more strong, stable, independent and growing local churches?
Could we have done better? We may agree without much hesitation that we did not do all we could. This realization is does not come as a rebuke but to help us ask ourselves, ‘how we can do better from now on in the area of Missions as a church’?
Basics Before we look at some prospects, it is necessary to review five basics about our church being a missional church:
Definition of Missions
In a loose sense, Missions may be referred to “any ministry extending beyond the congregation, the church facilities or the local influence of the church”. More precisely, it refers to the effort of spreading the Good News of salvation to all mankind which is going to hell because of its sin problem (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
Origin Of Missions
At the heart of missions is a missionary God. Missions is an enterprise of the God of the Bible. He ‘sent’ His Son Jesus Christ in to the world to bring home the straying man who was created in His own image (See the references in Jesus’ high-priestly prayer regarding the Father sending him, John 17:3, 8, 21, 23 & 25!). John reports Jesus as having said, “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” to his disciples (20:21).
Success of Missions
The Missions effort is complete only when all its part are carried out. We preach Christ so that people will believe in Him. Then we baptize the believers in the name of the Trinitarian God of the Bible and join them to a healthy biblical local church. Finally, we nurture them to maturity & equip them for ministry, primarily through the wholesome teaching of Scriptures (Matt 28:19-20).
Priority of Missions
Missions is church’s prerogative. The Great commission is given to the church to carry out. But there is a total disconnect in this area: individuals and organizations fail to honor God when they do Missions independent of the local church. Churches should engage in Missions as ‘sending’ and/or ‘supporting’ churches. A step back that is badly needed in Missions is for churches to be sending the missioners (Rom 10:13-15). Interestingly, the word ‘Missions’ come from Latin missio which means “to send’.
Goal of Missions
The ultimate objective of Missions is to bring glory to God. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul, the greatest of the missionaries of the Bible sustains the theme of “the Glory of God”. It may be the most important theme in that book from the very Apostle of God’s Glory. It is significant that at least four of such references in Romans flow out of or are within the context of either God or His apostle reaching out to the needy world (9:23;11:36; 15:7; and 16:27). It becomes incumbent then, that biblical churches stay faithful to the very purpose of its existence (Eph. 3:20-21).
The missional prospects of Bethel should be focused at three strategic levels for effective prayer and involvement in the days ahead:
Prospects. The missional prospects of Bethel should be focused at three strategic levels for effective prayer and involvement in the days ahead.
Individuals & Families
In a sense, “Missions is everybody’s business”. As individuals and families we must make an effort in learning, praying, and acting on whatever way we can do our part for the God-designed program of Missions. Begin with regularly praying for the salvation of those in your circle. Read mission stories. Listen to testimonies of new believers (or old ones). Get thrilled about God saving people from their sin and its consequences. Look for opportunities to share with others how God changed your life. Your home can be such a fitting place for Christian witness. Not long ago, we had our little one share how His Bible Seekers teacher led him to trust in the Lord something we were eagerly praying for at home.
Missional Church
As mentioned already, Missions primarily is church’s prerogative. As many believers in the church as possible should get involved in Missions program of the church in one way or another. We may ask, ‘who needs one more program to join in when we are already busy with so many other programs and are fighting to squeeze in time for my family etc.?’ Maybe recognizing the church’s foundational purposes will put us back on the track. Some of us may not even know how to get involved in Missions. To suggest a few ideas:
First, Here are some areas in which we need involvement: Missions Leadership Team, Prayer Team, Communications Team, Hospitality, and financial support.
Second, we need to strengthen our existing missionary churches to become strong and independent. Field Trips to these stations or even short-term mission projects may be organized.
Third, look out for new opportunities to participate in one or organize a new BFGG (Bible Fellowship Growth Group), which meets in someone’s home for Bible study, fellowship, prayer and evangelism.
Fourth, how about new church-plants? How about getting actively involved in visiting our new-comers. At the rate our city is growing in population and new housing areas develop, the world is coming to us right where we are. The prospects for Missions are great in Bangalore city.
Fifth, Being sensitive to where the Lord is already doing great things in Missions can help us be more productive. Not too far from Bangalore, in the Rayal Sema region of Andhra, God is opening wide doors for the spread of the gospel, with the least of all the opposition in South India. “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest,” said the Lord Jesus after leading the Samaritan woman to the knowledge of Him as her Messiah and Lord (John 4:35).
Fellowship of Churches
This level is mentioned here from a sincere conviction that we simply do not have in our country even one decent, helpful and thriving fellowship of like minded Baptist churches. And it is terribly needed. Can we agree that our Baptist distinctive of ‘individual soul liberty’ has done us some harm? The ground reality is that it’s not churches and/or fellowship of churches that respond to Missions, or training institutes (e.g., Seminary), but rather individuals. God has gifted our nation with some great pioneering men in Missions, but the saga seems to die with them. May the day be not far, that we have more churches planted, more like-faith churches open their arms and rally around to get the missional effort going big time! Isn’t this too big a dream? You ask. Maybe! But not one that is too impossible or one that is afar off.

Way too much care is exerted in the excuse of doing things properly (read: do what serves us most) that we have nearly missed what Missions is all about. Let us not get stuck up on the extremes, let us do Missions as a church God’s Great Commission with concern for the needy. And yes, let us do it indeed with care! Let us not “come short in bringing glory to God” (Rom 3:23), and “with respect to the promise of God, let us not waver in unbelief, but grow strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20).

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