Deep Motivations

buddist-monk_0In this article I’d like to consider two sets of questions and their answers regarding the foundational motive for IGo’s existence.

1. Is the Institute for Global Opportunities attempting to start a new denomination in Asia? Are we envisioning a Mennonite conference developing as the result of IGo’s presence there? Will the teaching and ministry of IGo drive wedges or build bridges between the evangelical groups that are currently in Asia?

These and other questions of this sort have been raised by those hearing of IGo’s anticipated commencement in the spring of 2007. In four of the past issues of the I Witness News, we have delineated the primary ministry objectives that God placed upon our hearts in the developing stage of the past three years. The questions like those given above probably link to a deeper foundational motivation for IGo’s existence than the objectives previously listed. What are those foundational motivations for IGo’s existence?

The deeper motivation for IGo to exist and take up space in the international map of missions are at least two fold. One of those primary motivations could be summed up rather bluntly by saying that we feel the need for more personnel to be involved in world mission.

The reason for the blessings God has flooded us with in the West is clearly outlined in Psalm 67: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” God blesses us that we may make Him known throughout the whole world.

Whether we are called to personally move to a foreign field or remain in an economically advantageous culture like the West, there is still only one reason that God gives wealth! That is solely “that (His) way may be known upon the earth.” There is absolutely no Biblical basis for using our wealth to build bigger barns (or houses) unless that effort undeniably links to the ultimate goal that “all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”

For this to take place, human bodies, that have become the temple of the Living God, must dwell in those places where Christ has not been made known. Christians must go and dwell in those areas and proclaim Christ Jesus by their presence, ministry and teaching.

This first motivation is shared in common by hundreds of other mission organizations all across the denominational continuum. There are many such organizations all around the city of Chiang Mai already.

We look forward to cooperating and working along side various of those missions that already exist there. But, that raises the question, “Is it really all that important to have another training institute in Asia, run by ‘green horns’ from the biased West, when there are others with much more experience that already have avenues of getting missionaries into the harvest field that may be more efficient than ours?”

No, it’s not! And if getting personnel on the mission field is our only foundational reason for training missionaries, then we can hardly excuse the costs, man hours, and glitches that come with starting something new, when others have the machinery running smoother than will. We may as well send our missionary candidates with those that are more organizationally experienced than we are.

But, that raises more questions. What difficulties will conservative Anabaptists have who serve in organizations run by evangelical Protestantism? Can those difficulties be overcome dynamically? Do we need a “safe place” for missions in Asia?

2. Is IGo’s presence in Asia to create a safe place for Mennonite young people and couples to train so they will be able to remain behind protective walls that will safeguard our conservative disciplines and practices? We think not! The second deeper motivation for forming IGo relates not to placing personnel on the field as much as it does to the “sanctification” of Evangelical mission work coming from the West.

This spring I talked with a twenty-year-old young lady, a fourth generation missionary, while my son and I were in Asia. I was impressed with her character, demeanor and appearance. Her father is the director of a Bible institute for the Lisu people group. This missionary daughter anxiously awaits the fellowship she anticipates with the arrival of the IGo students next spring. While she and her family minister to the Lisu in dynamic ways, she expressed her loneliness for godly, disciplined friends. She felt alone even though she lives very close to one of the most populous missionary centers in Asia. Since a significant number of the children of missionary personnel reflect the values and life style of the decadent West, she must stand alone with her convictions.

When Evangelicals and Protestants with their concurring missionary attempts, fail to reflect the life style of Christianity while attempting to proclaim its truth, the result is distortion. As Bill Hull said in Choose the Life, “The church is seriously debilitated by the belief that the test of salvation is doctrinal rather than behavioral.” When Christians, whether missionaries or home folk, do not exhibit in their life style the change of life they claim has taken place in the record books of heaven, the world laughs, and there is minimal conviction!

In his book, Unveiled at Last, Bob Sjogren comments, “Complicating the issue even more is how Muslims view Christianity. Muslims believe that we worship three Gods: God the father, God the son, and God the mother, and that that threesome came to be when God came down to earth, saw Mary, lusted after her, and had sex with her. (No wonder they believe Christianity is simply out to lunch.) This concept of an immoral religion is confirmed in Muslim’s minds when they turn on television and watch ‘Christian’ programs. They assume that ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’ are Christian TV programs and that they exemplify Christianity. The over-all effect? In considering the claims of Christ, most Muslims start at a negative fifteen rather than zero.”

May I add that, with the rate of divorce, remarriage, and fornication in the so-called Christianity of the West rivaling (and in some cases exceeding) the non-religious, the unevangelized parts of the world fail to be convinced that Christianity has anything of value to offer except a promiscuous life style for self-centered hedonists.

This brings us back to our second foundational motivation for commencing such a ministry as IGo for missionaries from disciplined Anabaptist settings. Are we to provide a safety net for protecting vulnerable, anemic Anabaptist missionaries that won’t be able to “stand” unless they are propped up with the hard stares of mission leaders keeping them in line? We sure hope not!

What IGo is committed to developing are men and women who treasure the value of a life style that represents a holy, wise, loving God. These missionaries will not be condemning, secluding, or contentious in their relationships with missionaries of other denominations in the harvest field. But, neither will they be apologetic, compromising or ashamed of their attempts to be Biblically based in all that they do. While we need to hear what other groups may be saying that can enhance God’s work through us, we will also be able to say and represent things on the mission field that are not being said or lived by very many.

When charactered conduct, Biblical belief, and spiritual passion combine in the life of the missionary and his family, the Kingdom of God will be built. The pressure toward a compromised life-style is not much less on the mission field than it is on American soil, therefore, what has not been developed at home will certainly be tested away from it.

Our deepest reason for embarking into this ministry is solely and purely to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that His glory is damaged and distorted to the degree that those who represent Him fail to embrace a holy life style, a persuasive understanding of truth, and a radiant countenance. When these three ingredients ooze out of the missionary’s life, he will have dynamic influence in building the Kingdom of God in any culture.

By Val Yoder, IGo Administrator (I Witness News/Winter 2006)

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