I am so happy to be here at DRIM today and I am thankful for all the missions work that Korean churches are doing.
I want to share about God’s word and missions today. We are challenged to read and study the word a lot but when we go out into missions how is the word related? Wesley said there are thousands of books, but there is one book that is everything for him. That is the Bible. The bible is the Word of God. But what does this make you think about if you hear the “Word of God”? This makes me think about the fact that God is a God who speaks. But when does he speak? Did he stop speaking after he spoke to Abraham? To Jesus? He still speaks today. But where does he speak to?
When we speak, we speak to someone. I don’t speak in the air. Sometimes I speak to a group but other times I speak to individuals. But do we talk to just anybody? We talk to someone who we trust, who will listen, who is worthy of me speaking to them. Not just anyone. So God too speaks even today but he speaks to those he trusts, that he values.
As parents, we speak a lot to one child and less to another and its not about favoritism. The father will say more to his child who listens. If they don’t listen they won’t see a point in continuing to say things to them. If you look at Samuel’s time, during that time the vision of God or the word of God was rare. This is because they weren’t obeying. However, do you want him to not speak to you? Or to speak to you? Even if it’s hard to obey? What are words though? The expression of our hearts. But what is our mind or heart that we cannot see? It’s my will, my feelings, what I am thinking, my plans. The bible is also God’s thoughts and what he has planned and he gave us the bible to show us his will and what he had planned.
If you look at what a person says, it shows you what kind of person they are and what they are going to be doing in the future. But what is the work of God? The mission of God? We know that he does work, through the bible, but what kind of work has he done and is he doing? The first work he did, was creation. And then there’s providence by what he takes care of his creation and rules over it. Then the next work is salvation. And this was needed because we were made with free will, not as robots. But Satan went against God and he was present in the garden of Eden too. But why did God not just lock Satan up away? We are supposed to be able to discern and choose God but we often fall and listen to Satan. This is what happened in Eden and it happens today too.
In Genesis it tells us that there was none that was righteous and everyone was on their way to perishing. However God was concerned about these kinds of people and that’s why he provided salvation, through Noah, through Abraham. He used people. He promised to Abraham that nations would be blessed through him. This is missions. And God blessed Abraham and his descendants so that others would see them and turn to God. The Israelites received this mission from God. But did they fulfill this mission?
They were not able to undertake this mission. It seems like God keeps failing. Why does God, who is so powerful, keep failing? His plan is to save people but eventually he sends his son to save them from their sins. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God. And Jesus says that your name is Peter and I will build my church upon this rock. Why did Jesus build his church? He said that the powers of darkness will not be able to overcome the church. The powers of darkness will keep trying to pull us down and away from God, but Jesus built the church to fight against the darkness.
This is the mission of the church. Jesus chose his disciples to work with him, he didn’t work alone. And what is this work? It is mission through the word. He gave us the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. A leader came to Jesus to test him and asked what the greatest commandment was and Jesus answered the first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, and mind and second is to love your neighbor, saying that this summed all of the prophets and the law. And the other one was the Great Commission. Telling us to go to all the nations and baptizing them and making them disciples. That was his last words to us and the church. And when we respond with great commitment, I believe that God will help us follow the great commandment and great commission. Jesus said that he will be with us when we go out among the wolves likes sheep. Jesus sends us but how can we work in our churches and missions? We should follow Jesus’ steps and pattern. The Word became flesh, incarnation. Have you ever heard of this in history? Something that had never happened. In Philippians, it says that Jesus came down to serve us and he laid down his equality with God and was humbled.
He came among us, among the sick, and the outcast. So missions is an incarnate missions. It is to go and become like those who we are doing missions to. Korea has made a great mark in the history of missions. And as I studied the history of missions, I could see that Korea is where it is today because of the Presbyterian missionaries that came to Korea in the past.
There were seven missionaries but they stayed by themselves and interfered with politics and stayed aloof from the people. But one person saw this and realized it was hard to change the situation so he went to Pyongyang and started his own missions.
He went and lived among them. He refused to even ride a bike because he said he could share the gospel with more people as he walked around. When a war hit, they were telling everyone to come back. But the missionary decided to stay because he wanted to be there for his church and couldn’t leave them and make them fear more because he left. And after the war he stood in the front of efforts of cleaning all the dead bodies. And after the Cheongil war the Japanese came in and interfered with the government and made Sunday a day of rest and gave freedom of religion.
And people started to go and pour into the churches as they realized that the white people had come to help them and live among them, not to harm them. And Pyeongyang church was the church that had the most people gathering for midweek service. This was possible because of incarnate missions.
The missionary lived with them. I think the hardest missions field is the Korean American churches. Missions is living with people and meeting people. If you go to other countries, the missionaries are respected greatly because they help them and give them food and things they need. But in the US, so many pastors in Korean American churches are not respected. A lot of people come to the states to live more well off, but they end up doing a lot of things they haven’t done before and really face hardships. Everyone has wounds once they leave their home country. And it is easy for this wounds to open up again. And it was so hard to get recognition as a human being living as a foreigner in the US. It is a lot better today, as there are a lot of Koreans but in the past it was so hard.
People came empty handed and worked hard to support their families and be where they are today. And everyone brings this baggage of experience when they come to church. A lot of pastors don’t have this experience, but I am thankful that I have. I’ve worked at construction sites and hard places and it helped me understand where my church members are coming from and their situations. Because of these situations, healing ministry is so important in the Korean American churches. And for us to become like Jesus serving others, incarnate missions like Jesus came down to serve. He washed the feet of his disciples. We say that we follow Jesus, but we lack so much in serving. When I went back to Korea after being a pastor in the states for 10 years, I saw how so many pastors in Korea were treated like kings.
Pastors used to be one of the last picks for a husband, but now they are second in rank. But this happened by the churches in Korea treating their pastors like that. But it is truly up to the pastors to know their mission and their place and to serve. When we go to missions field, we need to be careful about saying I’m going to help you, because they become someone who needs help. But if we say I am here to serve you, that makes me the servant and the other person the lord.
This is the model that Jesus showed us. He taught, preached, and healed. It is teaching and preaching the word. The Word was the most important part of his ministry. And healing also came from his words. There is power in words. As God’s servants, if we speak with God’s heart, those words are fulfilled. We need to know that words have power. Word is life. John chapter 1 says this and in Ezekiel we see the word give life to the dead bones in the valley. The Word is also power.
First, the power to overcome the devil. Satan tempted the second Adam, Jesus, in the desert. But Jesus stood up against the devil with the Word. The second time, Satan tempted him with the Word of God, but Jesus counteracts again with the Word. Even with illnesses and demons, Jesus healed them through the Word. This is the power of the word. When I was in elementary school, there was a lot of bullying.
I was small and weak and kept getting bullied, hitting me and teasing me. And I just told God that it was hard and it would be so much easier going to school if the bully didn’t come to school. I just said it. But God really made that student leave and he made me realize afterwards that God had done that because of the words I said and I realized the power of words then.
And I decided to be careful with my words and who I blessed and I cursed. We really have to be careful about speaking bad about others. As I shared at my church today, the word healed me from a dying illness and I have been healthy for the past 53 years, preaching his word.
God gave us life and saved us and commanded that we spread the good news to all peoples. When Jesus was born the angels told the shepherds of the good news of great joy. This is the commandment that he has given all of us. Loving others, having compassion with the word. One of the deacons at my church had hardships because of a hormone imbalance but the person was healed after I prayed for them because of the power of God’s word.
We need to love the word and be trained in his word. If we look to God, being ready to obey his word, that is when God’s word is fulfilled in us. Divine resource, God is our resource, not me and what I have. We say we are too busy to read the bible. But as Luther said, I pray the busier I am. Missional church is about taking God’s mission as a church and working to fulfill his work. May God’s work be done through this ministry. So as we work together in preaching, teaching and healing, all the nations will come to be saved. May each one of us be equipped with the word of God. May you receive training in the word at each of your churches and be ready. Let’s pray together.