Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Saved to die or saved to live?

From the nature of our work as home-based caregivers to people living with HIV and AIDS, we have a high number of people that we care for who eventually die. During an interview in preparation for the Courageous Leadership Award, I was asked the question: “Surely these resources, and this money would be better spent on evangelism, wouldn’t it?” My answer was that we were having much greater “success” in evangelism than ever before, mostly because we have greater integrity within the community, due to our involvement with the sick and the dying. Fact is that many people whom we work with and who realise that they are dying, come to the point where they want to make a commitment to the Lord before they die and our caregivers are equipped to help them with this decision.
One of the greatest stories about this concerns a man who had lived a Godless life. When he was virtually on his deathbed, he asked to see his brother (who is a pastor) and on that day the sick man committed his life to the Lord. He lived for a short while after this, but then eventually he drifted into a coma. A few days afterwards, one of our coordinators was standing outside his hut where he was lying, when suddenly she heard the sound of joyful laughter coming from within the hut. She rushed inside, not knowing what to expect, and found that the man had died moments before. We believe that he saw Christ in those moments before he died.
These stories are encouraging. But there is also a concern. Obviously, when people are terminally ill and they have never committed their lives to God, it is good that they do this before they die. But there is also a downside to this, which is that those people are saved to die while I believe that God actually wants to save us to live! The concept of everlasting life is not primarily focussed on life after death. It actually refers to life before death. John 6:47 says: “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” And John 10:10 says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” All of this has to do with life before death.
I don’t want to see anyone dying without Christ. But neither do I want to see anyone living without Christ. The difference lies in the fact that it seems that some evangelists want to see people converted in order to fill up heaven while I would like to see people coming into a living relationship with Christ so that they can fill the world: a new community driven mainly by their desire to glorify God in whatever they do. Heaven then becomes a bonus and not the main attraction.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008 - Posted by | AIDS, Alternative Society, Church, Death, Evangelism, HIV, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Hope, Mission, Swaziland, Theology

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