“Dr. Beasley-Murray, if what you are saying is true (about the Mission Statement of Jesus in Luke 4:11ff), then WE too should be doing this…this ministry of Jesus…”
“Yes, Mr. Van Devender that is what we are supposed to be doing.”
“How do we go about doing it?”
“I don’t know anyone who is actually doing the ministry of Jesus, but that is in fact is what we are supposed to be doing.”
I was dumbfounded by that confession, but it launched me onto a lifelong quest to discover how to do the ministry of Jesus and how to become competent in that doing.
So, how does one ministry like Jesus did in the Gospels?
Jesus sent out the 12 disciples (Luke 9) who successfully did it. Then he dispatched the 72 (in Luke 10) who also did pretty well. And those guys weren’t even born again!
At the Last Supper Jesus seriously broadened the commission: Whoever has faith in me will do what I have been doing.
Whoever….didn’t that include me?
A few years later, with Luke 4 and John 14 germinating in my heart and the attendant
questions percolating in my brain, Betty and I headed for Mombasa, Kenya to develop a twenty-year urban church planting strategy for our church group.
Mombasa had been an Islamic stronghold for one thousand years. The city’s heritage was deeply rooted in the export of slaves and ivory to the Middle East. The Gospel had a foothold in the city, but the Christian community was weak, fragmented and less than two percent of the population.
Before arriving in Mombasa, we detoured through language school in the Kenya highlands.
One dark and stormy night (at least I like to remember it that way), I awoke to see a massive, hideous demon standing at the foot of our bed. It was staring at me with a smirk on its face and saliva running from its mouth.
Somehow I knew this monstrous figure was the principality over Mombasa come to meet the new missionary before he arrived in the City.
Although it did not speak audibly, I could ‘hear’ its thoughts:
I must admit, neither my thirty-two years of local church life, my family religious training nor my extensive theological education had prepared me for this encounter. My inherited world view dismissed demons as historical oddities and projections of mental illness. This threatening figure fit neither category.
Before I could react, unseen hands slipped around my throat and began to choke me. I realized the creature had come to kill me before I could minister in Mombasa.
All I could think to do was gasp with my last breath, Jesus!
With a roar of rage, the beast staggered back and vanished. The night became quiet again.
Such was my introduction to ministry in Africa.
The next two and one-half years I assaulted the Citadel of Mombasa as if it were up to me alone to crack through the fortress walls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Along with Emmanuel Chai and a small team of Kenyan workers, we planted eight new churches – a remarkable achievement given the context.
But in the end, I came home exhausted, sick and discouraged. And sacked for my effort. I wouldn’t be going back to Africa. Or so I thought.
Human zeal, education and sincerity had proven woefully inadequate for the apostolic task of bringing down strongholds and establishing the life of God Country in Christophobic places.
No, something more was needed. Something more was required.
The student was now prepared. And God was ready to show a better way.
Continued in Blog 8.