Growing up in a Baptist Church in Western Australia I regularly heard stories about the Baptist missionaries who went to Papua-New Guinea to serve God.
Place names like Telefomin and the Sepik River were part of my vocabulary as we heard visiting missionaries tell us stories of their work, or had reports read out at church from missionaries serving God in those places.
This morning our church service was led by the Papua-New Guinea West Australian Christian Fellowship and it was a privilege to have Alan Bong and others lead us in worship, even singing in Pidgin.
Alan told the story of a young missionary from Tasmania who went to Telefomin back in 1953 and the way in which the lives of he and his family had been influenced by this young man’s willingness to give up a successful career to bring the good news of Jesus to the people of Telefomin.
The tables have turned and now PNG Christians are in Australia sharing the good news of Jesus with their own people in this country and with Australians.
The same story could be told of many people who were influenced by Christian missionaries and in a new era of globalisation are able to return the favour.
The Centre for Global Christianity Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in the US, has shown that there have been dramatic changes in the way the Good News of Jesus Christ is spread around the world. Countries like Brazil, South Korea and India that were once recipients of Christian missionaries are now among the countries that send the most Christian missionaries to other parts of the world. In terms of missionaries sent per million church members, Palestine, Ireland and Malta are surprising leaders.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.