MISSIONS TRAINING: A SPIRITUAL BIRTH
(An excerpt from a manuscript by Dr. Mrs. Esther Adenike Luogon)
Our God is a missionary God. It all started with Him. In His love for humankind, when the first Adam fell into sin, God had to make provision for man’s redemption. In the Old Testament times He began with father Abram (Abraham). For him to become an effective tool in God’s hand, God took him through a training period. He left the known (his country) for the unknown; the familiar for the unfamiliar; he was childless for years and a catalogue of other painful experiences attended his path. Tough times indeed! Yet Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. (Gen.22:18).
Paul, the apostle, was a vibrant missionary in the New Testament world. He passed through series of training to achieve his goal of world evangelization. Jesus Christ, the greatest missionary of all ages did not have it cheap either. God allowed him to experience some form of training. For example He worked with Joseph, his earthly father at his carpenter’s workshop. He trekked and suffered hunger. He was misunderstood, abused and insulted by men, that He created. He had his own dose of training while in the flesh.
It is pertinent for us to refresh our understanding of ‘missions’. According to Ralph D. Winter, founder and director of United States Centre for World Mission (USCWM), understanding the terms 'mission' is crucial to the completion of the missionary task. Missions means different things in various circles but the classical definition of missions has its primary focus on evangelism and the conversion of the heathens.
Ralph D. Winter refers to the "expansion of Christianity into non-Christian peoples of the world" as missions. That implies that missions has to do with the preaching of the gospel where Christ is not yet named. To the father of modern missions, William Carey, the use of all available means by Christians for the conversion of the heathens is missions.
Missions training is not alien to many continents of the world, but in Africa many parts are still lagging behind in terms of missions training. In order to acquire proficiency in secular professions, training is basic, so it is in fulfilling the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”(Mark 16: 15-18).
Missions training is a necessity. The commission does not stop at evangelising them that is, making people to be aware of the need to accept the salvation of the Lord, it involves a teaching ministry. (Matt. 28: 19-20). Missions training has to do with the making of disciples by teaching them the statues of God and helping them to become like the master, Jesus Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit.
The disciples saw His life and emulated Him and it yielded results. At the mount of transfiguration, Peter, James and John were with Him, so also at the garden of Gethsemane, while in agony. Missions training is basically incarnational in model. It involves the impartation of the life of Jesus Christ through the trainer, and his commitment to the trainees. Training must be taken serious. Some of the qualities found in Jesus are worthy of our attention and these include but not limited to Love; Compassion; Servant spirit; Humility; A Shepherd’s heart; Prayerfulness; Patience; Tolerance; Firmness; and Truthfulness