From Convert-making to Nation-building
From Convert-making to Nation-building

From Convert-making to Nation-building

“The church has moved from nation-building to convert-making.  We used to be present in every sphere, contributing to creativity and progress.  But we have retreated to our buildings, content with making converts.  It’s time we redefine our mission field.”

These words, spoken by a DML colleague in South Asia, resonated with the attendees in the DML workshop.  He continued, “Recently a man told me he left his government position with the Income Tax department to start a church.  I told him that he should reconsider his decision.  He had an opportunity to be salt and light in a place of great darkness.  He had an opportunity to reach people that a pastor could not reach.”

In my recent weeks in four different cities in South Asia, I have come to the conclusion that governments should want to have Christians in their nations!  A calling to be fruitful and multiply (creativity and provision) for a world that flourishes, seeking to contribute to humanity and creation, not putting profit before people and planet, a solid work ethic…these are things that we are created to do!  Nations who want flourishing through jobs and economic growth should be crying for more Christians!  But instead, we are seen only as risks for converting people, for proselytizing.  

This concern was reinforced on a recent flight I took in a country with anti-conversion laws.  I was seated in a window seat with a couple (nationals) next to me They politely asked me about myself and why I was in this country.  I gave the safe response that I have been instructed to give, “I’m here to visit friends.”  They then asked if I was a Christian and I said yes.  At that point, the husband began to share the gospel with me, pulling out the Bible on his phone, asking me to read verses.  I pointed out, again, that I am a Christian and that I have memorized many of the verses he wanted to share.  I tried to ask questions about how and where they are sharing the gospel in these challenging places…but he was intent on witnessing to me.  After about fifteen minutes I resigned myself to just listen and take mental notes of the path he took to share the gospel, to see if I could learn something from him.  He passionately went through his offering for an hour, shushing his wife every time she tried to interject.  The people in front of us, behind us, and across the aisle kept looking over (as he was not quiet).  When he was done, they asked if I had any prayer requests, and then he sat back in his seat for the remaining 30-minute flight, satisfied that he had done his job. 

I loved his passion.  He was articulate and his message was good!  But he spent no time developing a relationship or even listening/caring about the person he was speaking to.  His choice to shush his wife repeatedly (rudely at times) was a turn-off.  

This reinforces the message that many Christians are bent on doing one thing and one thing only – fulfilling the Great Commission.  But when we do that without the Great Commandment (loving God and neighbor) and without the context of the Great Commitment (Genesis 1:28 and 2:15), it can be off-putting.  

We need to get back to nation building.  Jeremiah 29 says that we are build houses, plant gardens, and pray for the peace and prosperity of the nation.  We are to be nation-builders.  Daniel and Joseph are examples of this – even while in exile, they contributed to the growth of that nation. They worked hard. They worked with excellence.  And as they worked, they were a light pointing to God.  

The three Great Directives given by God are like a three-legged stool.  Let’s be sure that our stool, as well, has three legs that are balanced.