In Matthew’s Gospel, we read these powerful words of Jesus; ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28: 18-20).
In these parting words Jesus lays out His vision for us, the family of God, the Church. We are called to have a worldwide, global outlook of Christ’s love, to be engaged with the discipleship of men, women and children from all nations, to teach faithful, uncompromised obedience to Christ’s commands in every culture, tribe and tongue. This is the big picture.
As much as serving local needs and supporting local mission action planning is essential for us here in Ashford Town Parish, the spiritual health of our church communities correlates to some extent to our concern for, prayer for and practical involvement with overseas mission. How are we connecting with the big picture of God’s big heart for all nations? How are we learning and receiving from our brothers and sisters around the world? How are we giving and going?
Part of my rule of life is to visit Uganda on an annual basis where possible, leading ministry teams regularly. I lived in Mbale, eastern Uganda for 6 years helping to set up JENGA Community Development Outreach. JENGA has grown substantially since then, rooted in the love of Christ for all people and the call of the Gospel, serving some of the most vulnerable and deprived communities. One of the main reasons I visit each year is because it is vital for my spiritual health. My Ugandan brothers and sisters teach me so much about faith, hope and joy in the Lord, resilience in trials, and faithful obedience to the Gospel. I learn so much as I go into a different culture, serve a different community and love people of difference.
A small team from Singleton Community Church has recently returned from Uganda. We were involved with various health trainings, ministry workshops and preaching opportunities. We witnessed first-hand the power of the Gospel to transform lives and whole communities, and surely we will never be the same again.
Christ’s vision really is global, worldwide, extending to all cultures. Christ’s message of repentance and faith is far reaching to all people. Is our vision this big, or is it too small? Our spiritual health depends, in part, to the extent we are obedient to Christ’s commands to, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’. If we are not currently networked in some way to what Jesus is doing further afield around the world, not only are we missing out on blessing, we are being disobedient. Let’s pray for the Lord to connect us to His Kingdom building somewhere further from home, amen.
The Revd Jo Purle