Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Missiological Autobiography

In this post, I try to answer three simple questions according to my point of view on Christian World Missions. Question number two though does not involve theology.
The questions are:
1. What is your definition of "missions"?
2. What cross-cultural experiences have you had?
3. What is the role of the church in missions?
My personal definition of “Christian mission”: to live in this world conscious of the responsibility that Christians have been given by Jesus Himself wherever thy go in life. This will mean that they will share Jesus Christ, teaching and baptizing all those who voluntarily open their hearts to receive Him.
I also understand that the mission defined above should be a lifestyle. It should be the normal way of Christian behavior. It should be spontaneous and natural. It should be so intrinsically connected to Christians lives that they should never need strategies to achieve the goal of reaching the world for Christ.
Although a big part of the Christian mission is “doing” something, “being” something also plays a major role. We are to be salt and light of the world. Jesus is not as worried about numbers as he is about transformed lives. Before we reach the world for Christ, the hearts off Christians in the world have to be completely reached by Him. If anyone desires to put into practice all the teachings of Jesus, he/she will suffer persecution. Therefore, it is totally necessary to have a heart fully converted to God. This is the reason that being a real child of God is so important. Otherwise, he/she will not endure serving the Lord.
My cross-cultural mission experiences started when I went to seminary for the first time back in Brazil. The seminary I went to offered a Bachelor’s degree in Theology with a concentration in Missiology. Thus, we had to be involved in weekly dramatizations for chapel called CENAM (Centro de Atividades Missionárias – Center of Missionary Activities) and also in mission trips to several parts of Brazil. While I was there, I went to a Brazilian region called Sertão. This place is considered the “Brazilian 10-40 window” due to the spiritual condition of the people.
My coming to the US was/is also a cross-cultural experience to me. Since the end of 2003 I have been living in this country, having contact with people of several different cultures. It has been a blessing for me not only to live here, but also to study and to learn from the American culture. God used this country to give me the opportunity to go even further. I spent one month in Chile working with several churches and speaking for children, youth, and adults. I also went to Mexico to help the victims of the hurricane that hit the cities near the coast.
This summer, God gave me the opportunity to spend two months in East Asia. This trip has been the crown of all my cross-cultural experiences so far. The reason for that is due to the fact that it was my first time in the eastern part of the world. In East Asia, my team (eight people from all over Texas) worked with college students. During our time over there we could see the openness of the people to the Gospel message, specifically those in the country we were visiting.
In regard to the role of the church in missions, I understand that church is not only a building where we attend some meetings on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Rather, it is the whole body of believers spread around the Earth. I totally understand the necessity of the institutionalization of Christian organizations such as denominations. However, that was not the plan of Jesus. Just as the meaning of His words in the New Testament were not the plan when He talked about church. The concept of church as we see it today (institution) came from Constantine during his time as Roman Emperor. With this clarification of my view of the church, I would say that its role in missions would be: a) Live fully devoted to God; b) Understand the mission of God for all his children (privileges and responsibilities); c) Be committed to support financially those called by God to live for the cause of the Gospel (either local or overseas); d) Be sensitive to the work of God in each generation (being part of it); e) Pray for the salvation of all the peoples of the world.

Rodrigo Serrao

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