The Future of Missions
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 I've been thinking about how all this will affect and/or change the way we do missions from the US to other countries. It was on February 14th while out with my wife (and our then 3-year-old son) for a chicken dinner that I began to feel ill. We went home early with what I assumed was the flu. I thought if I would get enough rest that Friday night, I would be ok on Saturday to finish preparing Sunday's sermon. Unfortunately, the flu symptoms got worse and while sweating through Saturday night with a high fever it occurred to me that I would need to cancel our church gathering. (there was no one else at the time to fill in and lead worship or preach). This was the worst flu that I could remember having, but as time went on and the dry persistent cough continued for well over a month, I slowly began to realize that the virus I had was actually the covid virus. It particularly became clear to me when on more than one occasion I was convinced that I smelled something burning...
Anyway, since having the virus at the very beginning of the outbreak I've been particularly sensitive to the reality of the whole situation. The outbreak in Italy was one of the first places where it exploded. Sadly, in the months and years to follow, Italy has been one of the most heavy-handed countries regarding restrictions and mandates. This may be in part to how they were so heavily criticized at the very beginning of the pandemic. Perhaps they have been heavy-handed to try to prevent more ridicule from other nations. Perhaps they really thought they were doing what was best. Perhaps they were part of a worldwide evil plot of suppression and reducing liberties... We don't know.
The board of directors at PMc meets 4 times per year to review the ministry, pray, and strategize for the growth of the ministry among the Italian people with the collaboration of the US church. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it's been my practice to ask the board to prayerfully consider the current world affairs and how they may or may not affect the future of global missions as we know it. For sure there has been some hindrance to the ministry around the world, at least a little with the ongoing complications of international travel, for example.
As mentioned in our most recent newsletter, my family is still unable to travel to the US for our normal furlough visits and recruiting/promoting trips for PMc. Why? Simply put, because my wife is a non-US citizen and unable to board a flight without proof of taking the mandated remedy for covid. No problem. We trust the Lord is in control and for now, we don't need to go to the US.
One of the blessings of serving Jesus in Italy is that it causes us always to keep to the point in our missions work. I often talk about how Italy helps us keep the Gospel ministry central to what we do. Italians need nothing of material substance from us. They need only the Gospel which means the best thing we can do for them is evangelize, make disciples, and plant Biblical churches. By God's grace, this is what we do.
Another blessing of serving in Italy, perhaps, has been the heavy-handed response that has greatly restricted us in so many ways. How is this a blessing? It caused us to examine more closely our circumstances and the potential motivations behind the tyrannical practices being implemented not just here but in many nations around the world.
To my surprise, I haven't seen much talk yet about global missions or international cross-cultural missions.
On one hand, it's likely because we all just hope things will get back to normal. On the other hand, I cannot help but wonder that many are just not considering the bigger picture of what is potentially happening around the world and how if things are left unchecked we may not get back to normal, at least not as soon as we hope... I suspect that in the coming months this discussion may grow as more and more people see the need, but then again, maybe the storm is already passing and things will quickly clear up and get back to normal. Time alone will tell.
My hope, to be clear, is that things will return to normal. Yet as I look around and see the rising inflation, high prices of gas and petrol, the potential world war, the censorship, the potential food shortages, movements toward a "new world order" with a digital currency and loss of privacy, and the unchecked tyrannical behavior from governments in numerous nations, I cannot help but think what this will mean for the future of missions. What if getting back to normal will take much longer than we all anticipated? Are we prepared to make adjustments? What kind of adjustments would be necessary?
As a missionary and the director of PMc, I feel that it is only right to keep praying and seeking the Lord about the future of missions. It's our desire that more and more people get involved with PMc and that more missionaries get equipped for a lifetime of fruitful service to the Italian people. How might the current agendas of the globalist elites cause a hindrance to the work of the church? Christians, indeed, are the ones who are seen as an obstacle to the ones seeking to replace God in their quest for creating a utopian society.
All that impedes the utopian revolution is the propaganda of priests, the family and the church. Consequently orthodox Christianity is seen as the ultimate enemy of utopia.
Boot, Joseph . Ruler of Kings: Toward a Christian Vision of Government (p. 38). Wilberforce Publications Ltd. Kindle Edition.
Truly, this is something we, as the church, must continue thinking about so the gospel can keep going forward and we are not caught off guard.
It's my conviction that the storm will come but it will eventually pass. And when it does finally pass the beauty of Jesus and the Gospel will be clear as day to the world. When man attempts to rule apart from Christ and His perfect law that causes humanity to flourish, there are always negative consequences. Many people suffer. It's been this way since the beginning of time. There is nothing new about what we are seeing unfold today.
There was a time early on in the church when the Christians were hiding from a man named Saul. He was actively persecuting the church. Then, our Lord and King, caused Saul to be born again. We know of him now as Paul the Apostle who penned a large part of the New Testament and demonstrated what it means to suffer for our Savior's name. At another time, there was great oppression from the Roman authorities and many Christians had to worship in secret. Then one day a man named Constantine was converted to Christ, and just like that, it was no longer a fearful thing to love and worship Jesus. As a result, the gospel went forward with great power bringing many blessings to the world. There are numerous stories of the Lord working in ways like this (when it seemed to many that there was no hope) for the greater furtherance and impact of the Gospel in our world.
Here in Venice, it's typically humid and often foggy. Most people who come to visit Venice have no idea that to the north there are the Alps. Yet after a big storm, in a majestic way, the sky often clears and photographers line up to capture vivid photos of the Alps in the background of Venice. It's amazing!
It's my prayer, that we won't see dark times ahead, but if we do, I rest assured that Jesus is now reigning and after darkness, the gospel shines brightest.
The reformers were known for saying: Post Tenebras Lux / After darkness light.
I believe this is a motto that we must still have today. Darkness is all around us, but the Gospel brings the light of Christ that cannot be put out.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5
I'm currently reading through Dr. Joe Boot's book, Ruler of Kings: Toward a Christian Vision of Government. He is the founder of the Ezra Institute in Canada and author of the Mission of God: A Manifesto of Hope for Society.
His work is particularly helpful for grasping the godless utopian agenda growing around the world and better understanding the reign and rule of Jesus through His kingdom. If you want to get a better grip on the big picture of what is happening and how we got into the numerous situations we are all facing today, as well as how we can get out of them, I would advise that you pick up a copy of this for yourself and give it a read. It's through in-depth works like this that the church can better understand its role in this world as we live under the reign of Jesus for His glory and as we seek to be used by Him in His Great Commission.
- Soli Deo Gloria.
Here are some random quotes from the first two chapters to potentially catch your interest:
Contrary to popular opinion, Scripture does give Christians a mandate to apply the wisdom of God’s Law-Word to political life rather than relying on the ideas of godless people. To neglect this task is to faithlessly abandon our society and culture to despotism and tyranny.
Man needs order, certainty and salvation, and where Christ’s governance is denied, man will attempt to mimic it.
So rather than the Christian view of reality, which leaves predestination to God – thereby leaving man in a place of liberty by denying the right of total control to any human agency – the scientific society believes its desired social results can be obtained by means of controlled causation.
The false religion of Babel – idealizing one unified humanity under a humanistic power-state operating in defiance of God to make all things subject to man’s power and glory – is the original utopian delusion.
The key to the new world is therefore technocracy – not just the utilization of new technologies, but mankind embracing the ideas of new elite group of planners.
Let us all keep seeking the Lord as to the role He would have us play in whatever may or may not lie ahead. Let it be that each day we do all that we do to the glory of God. Let it be that our hearts remain fixed on glorifying God in life or death. Let us rise day after day by seeking the Lord with all our hearts as to how we may serve Him and please Him with the time that remains for us to live. Amen
Question: What are some ways that you think the church may need to adapt in the near future or at least give consideration when it comes to the work of missions abroad?
Written by Jesse Schreck