Saturday, 21 January 2017

Why on Earth am I here?

According to data collected in the year 2000AD, the percentage of the population in PNG which is Christian, was as high as 96%1. In the year 2001AD, the percentage of the population in Austrlia which identified as Christian was 68%2. One of my co-workers here at Lae City Mission often remarks that PNG is likely the most over-evangelised place on the face of the earth.

A fair question then: What on earth are we here for, when the country we are sent to, is more Christian than the country that sent us?

Why go through the heartache of saying goodbye, when the need is greater at home, than afar?

Is it because of poverty? Or the romance of the mission field? The mystery?

The first answer is that we don’t get a say in where we are going to work. God is sovereign over all things, and if He says we are to go, then we go.

The second answer is that the Gospel has not taken a hold here.

Mi sori, ol poroman bilong mi, long lain bilong PNG. Mi lukim displa, na skelim displa, na mi mas autim tingting bilong mi. PNG i pulap lo planti man wankain olsem: ol autim bilip lo Krais, but em i nogat tainim bel. Yu mas skelim displa tu, na sapos mi nogat tru, yu mas stretim mi, na bai mi harim yu na stretim tingting bilong mi. Sapos tok bilong mi i tru, yumi mas wokim na wokim na buildim kingdom bilong God, na winim ol lain, na bai ol lain i kamap strong insait lo bilip lo Krais. Yumi mas tok tru, noken giaman lo displa.

How do I know? In fact, how dare I say that the Gospel has not taken a hold, when 96% of the population Identified themselves as Christians? Who am I to judge these people?

I’m no-one.

Jesus, however, tells us that we can judge a person by their fruits3. Yes, in context, He was talking about false prophets, and not false converts, but the principle can still be applied. If someone bears bad fruit, are they a good tree? Jesus says no.

So don’t I need to examine each persons fruit before I say that the Gospel has not taken a hold?

No. For the same reason as I can say that the Gospel is losing its hold in Australia and America, I can say that the Gospel has not taken a hold in PNG. While lawlessness increases in Australia, as the country moves further and further towards a position beyond post-Christianity to anti-Christianity, and the dominant philosophy being taught (Relativism) leaves an entire generation in danger of being handed over to their desires4, so I can say that the general population of PNG remains untouched, unchanged, by the Gospel.

Another thing Jesus said, is that our love for Him would bring out our obedience to Him5, and in context His words could be read to mean that obedience to His commandments is required before He will ask the Father for the Spirit to be sent to you. As a whole, do the people of PNG obey Jesus commands? Or do they live in rebellion yet?

As an outsider looking in, I would have to answer that the latter appears to be true. If the majority was following Jesus, we wouldn’t have security guards surrounding the shopping centres. We wouldn’t need big iron gates and iron fences around the carparks, and we would be far less likely to be locked in the carpark while armed police arrive to quell a riot. We wouldn’t hear gunshots at night, as the police try to keep some semblance or order while a road is washed out and awaits repair work.

I often hear from nationals that there is a culture of fear here in PNG, and that everyone is worried about what another might do to them. That fear would not be present if everyone was following Jesus command to love one another67.

So, that is why we are here: the Gospel has not taken a hold, even in a country with a 96% Christian population. Perhaps it is truer of PNG, than of America, that the mission field of our time is the Church.

And not just PNG either. If the Gospel is yet to take a hold of this country, and we must prayerfully work for this, then the same work, the same prayer, the same hand to the plough is also needed in America, in Canada, in Holland, and in Australia.

How long before PNG is sending missionaries to Perth?

3 Matthew 7:15-20
4 Romans 1:18-32
5 John 14:15
6 John 15:12
7 Matthew 22: 37-40

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