How and why does OMF engage in integral mission?

The good news of Jesus is bigger than you might think. For example, I have had the privilege of being part of a ministry in East Asia where churches provide end of life care in their communities. Volunteers visit homes and hospitals to show the love of Jesus as they care for patients, support grieving families and share gospel hope.1 This is just one example of how we are working out the OMF mission statement: ‘We share the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with East Asia’s peoples to the glory of God.’2 I’m glad that the words ‘in all its fullness’ are included as this reminds us of the scope of all that Jesus achieved on the cross: Jesus’ death and resurrection was for the reconciliation of the whole of God’s creation (Ephesians 1:7-10; Colossians 1:15-20). This good news is full indeed, it is “for individual persons, and for society, and for creation. All three are broken and suffering because of sin; all three are included in the redeeming love and mission of God;  all three must be part of the comprehensive mission of God’s people.”3

The scope of the good news

It is important too that we remember that Jesus spoke of the good news of the kingdom. We must keep this kingdom perspective as it can help us to begin to grasp the deep, wide and rich scope of this good news. This view means the good news is not diminished to personal spiritual salvation but extends to every part of life. Salvation actually means bringing all things under the lordship of Jesus: our lives, our churches, our communities and our nations. This transforms our commitment to God’s mission. It means we need to both proclaim the good news of the kingdom and demonstrate it through compassionate responses to social needs, acting to bring God’s justice to society and taking responsibility to care for God’s creation. These are kingdom issues and so we must reflect them in the work  that we do.4

How can OMF share the fullness of the good news of Jesus Christ? In the end of life care ministry I described this is done by churches who are caring for dying patients and their families, believing this is a powerful demonstration of the hope and transformation that God’s kingdom brings. This loving care is not simply a means of creating opportunities for evangelism, it is instead part of the whole witness of churches in their communities as the good news of the kingdom is lived, seen and heard. The Asian country where this work is taking place has complex spiritual beliefs and many social needs. So it takes this kind of whole witness, carried out by the Church, to communicate the good news in a way which is relevant to the needs of their communities and shares a credible message of kingdom hope. I hear many stories of those individuals who have come to a saving faith in Jesus and face the end of life with joyful peace – these give powerful testimony to the good news in all its fullness.

An integrated approach to mission

Integral mission is the term most commonly used to describe this kingdom approach to mission. The Church is at the centre of integral mission as this cannot be a work for individuals only. It is primarily in church community where life as kingdom people, under the lordship of Jesus Christ, is worked out. God is growing his kingdom and calls his Church to be part of this by reaching the nations with his good news. For OMF workers crossing cultures to participate in integral mission this means long-term commitment to: integrate into new cultures, learn new languages, live as ambassadors for Christ’s kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20) and, because we cannot do this alone, we partner with local churches and Christians to see God’s kingdom grow.

When I talk about integral mission I sometimes hear from people who are worried that it may neglect the verbal proclamation of the good news. In fact, we found in the end of life care ministry that it was those who were already involved in evangelism who have also become the most committed to this approach. They understood that this whole witness builds the Church, bringing people into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus, and takes his Church into the world to witness to his kingdom. Using locally appropriate and adapted ways of witness will result in communities of Christians who are recognised as local rather than a foreign import. They therefore have the potential to grow more healthily in their specific social and cultural environment.

In OMF today many are working out integral mission in partnership with national co-workers and through more informal ways as they live out loving witness to Jesus with their East Asian friends and neighbours. In a large Asian city a discipleship-focused ministry is working with a church to respond to the extreme poverty in their community; a church group runs a small business which provides a livelihood for people with disabilities; in restrictive settings across East Asia Christians are serving in health and education and witnessing to Jesus in government institutions. They are embodying the kingdom in multiple creative ways which declare in every way that Jesus is Lord. As we develop integral mission in OMF we hope to see more churches working together, sharing the good news of the kingdom of Jesus Christ with East Asia’s peoples wherever they are, as we wait for the day when the kingdom will truly come in all its glorious fullness.

Sarah
OMF Consultant for Integral Mission

For further reading

  1. Chris Wright, Five Marks of Mission- Making God’s Mission Ours (Micah Global Series, 2016)
  2. Melba Maggay, Integral Mission: Biblical Foundations (Micah Global Series, 2016)
  3. Tim Chester, Is Everything Mission?  (IVP/Keswick Ministries, 2019)

References

1 A story about this ministry appeared in the September – December 2018 edition of Billions. You can read the article online here.
2 You can read OMF (UK) National Director Peter Rowan’s explanation of our mission statement from when we adopted it in 2015 here.
3 Cape Town Commitment, 1.7a, 2010
4 Peter Rowan’s article ‘Shaped by the Coming Kingdom’ in the May-August 2019 Billions edition reflects further on this theme.