What is Jesus’ strategy for missions? Well, it is clearly stated in Matt. 9:37-38, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest." (ESV). If we follow His strategy, then we will surely succeed in fulfilling the Great Commission. We notice in Matthew 9: 35 that Jesus led by example. His ministry was described as teaching, preaching and healing. In short, he ministered to both the spiritual and physical needs of the people. We are told that Jesus went everywhere, preached in all cities and villages and cared for the sick and needy.
In verse 36, we are also told that Jesus had compassion upon the multitudes. He saw them as harassed, helpless and ‘shepherd-less’ souls. The need of a ‘Christ-less’ world ought to move us with the same deep compassion as it did our Lord. It is not just an emotional response. It goes deeper than that. This deep love for people will drive us as it did Paul (2 Cor. 5: 14). In response to such a need, our Lord revealed his great mission strategy. In a way we are quite surprise with Jesus’ strategy. In view of the great harvest, we would expect Jesus either to issue an urgent call for more labourers or initiate a recruitment campaign. Instead, he involved his disciples in pray. On the surface, this strategy sounds a bit abstract. What has prayer to do with missions? It seems that we need more action rather than prayer. No, this strategy does not negate the need for action, for praying itself is indeed action. Praying will involve us in the plan and heart of God Who is the Lord of missions. So in prayer, we humbly acknowledge His sovereignty over us. We surrender our will to His plan and strategy. And in this way God is able to send out his workers into the ripened harvest. “George Murray, missionary to Italy, missiologist, and president of Columbia International, once said that for years he was willing to go but planning to stay. Not until he became planning to go but willing to stay did God send him out to Italy” (Robert J. Morgan: 2007, 566). How could this be? It is only when George Murray surrendered his plan to God’s plan that God found a person ready to be sent into his harvest. On the other hand, Jesus’ strategy also involves his Church to pray for the missionaries in the field. The success of missionaries depended on the prayers of the Church. “J. O. Fraser was a missionary to China in the early 1900s. He credited the conversion of hundreds of Lisu families to the prayers of his very earnest little prayer group back in England. He said, Christians at home can do as much for foreign missions as those actually on the field. It will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of his earnest believers at home.” (Morgan: 2007, 568).
Let us be reminded that God is the Lord of the harvest. Let us ask ourselves: Are we seeing the needs of the world through Christ’s eyes? Are we moved with Christ’s love to reach out? Are we praying that God will send out more labourers? Are we heeding God’s call or resisting it? Are we doing our part in fulfilling Jesus’ strategy for missions?
Rev. Mark Tay