Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. And a very good place to start.” We shall do just this as we consider the important subject of encouraging missionary movement in the churches of Asia. That “very beginning” and a good place to start is the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. In his final mandate to the Church, believers of all times are commissioned to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19, 20). Mark’s account has this mandate in the following terms: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). To make disciples and to preach the Gospel involves the central message of Christ’s death and resurrection, the need for repentance, and the glad news of forgiveness (Luke 24:47). In the account in the fourth Gospel Christ tells his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). Christians are to be Christ’s witnesses in their local surroundings and also to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:47). The gospel writers gave prominence to the Great Commission.

This commission is unchanging: The Lord has never rescinded his royal order for his Church to be engaged in worldwide evangelism; it is therefore binding on all Christians. Further, the Great Commission is not to be monopolized by a particular church or race or even a segment of the world. Christians from the West and from the East are called to be partners in obedience (to quote the phrase of the 1947 Whitby Conference).

Has this scriptural basis been worked out in the history of missions? The student of missions will soon ...

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