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11 May 2023

Keep on keeping on


God enables people to persevere in following him in many ways. In this article, CMS missionaries share stories of the power of God’s word and the blessings of community, as they walk alongside believers seeking to trust Jesus amidst the ups and downs of the Christian life.

Believers all over the world are called to continue in faith through hard seasons, difficult decisions and in complicated cultural situations. They are wrestling with questions like these: “How do I keep honouring God and support my family as we grieve the loss of my sister to cancer?” “Should I pursue a job as a lawyer or go into full-time ministry?” “Should I attend the traditional community ceremony tomorrow?”

Choosing God’s way is often counter-cultural and costly. By his grace God works through missionaries to help people continue following Christ in many ways: their quiet witness and prayers over a long period; an open home where meals are shared and godly family relationships are modelled; reading the Bible with a student, a friend, or a church member; or teaching the Bible and theology to future church leaders, just to name a few.

Here are some examples of how knowing the assurance of God’s love expressed in the Bible and in community helps people to persevere long-term as disciples of Jesus.

Knowing God’s word

Around the world the need for people to know God’s word, and learn how to apply it in their cultural context, often seems boundless. How wonderful that God’s living and active Word speaks into our daily lives—in the big and small challenges, and on the good and hard days.

CMS missionaries are involved in the vital work of helping people learn to read the Bible for themselves so that they can grow daily in following Jesus—taking hold of God’s promises and resting in his love.

CMS missionary Martin Field explains the significance of knowing the Bible in Argentinian church culture. According to Martin, the mentality of ‘respect the expert’, and the legacy of Catholicism, means that even in evangelical churches “young Christians will often resort to ‘what my pastor says’ in terms of making decisions.”

He continues, “It is especially important to give people the big picture of the Bible, so that they can read and understand for themselves the whole counsel of God…so that they can be discerning regarding what they hear and read, so that they can think through and ‘own’ their own decisions, and so that they can keep growing even when the structures of church gatherings are not present (as we saw in the pandemic).”

Martin has seen God’s word at work in the lives of students, including Joel:

“Over the last few years Joel has faced various challenges, the greatest of which was losing his sister to cancer, and seeing the impact of grief on his parents. Joel has hung on to God’s word amid suffering, trusting that his heavenly Father has all things in his hands, even the most difficult moments. Through this time, he has been very conscious of encouraging his parents in their walk with God.”

Prayer circle in Argentina.

Gentle questions

During an online student Bible camp in Taiwan, CMS missionary Sam Chrisp questioned a student about whether the application she had shared was coming from the Bible. He was concerned that he would offend her, in a culture that emphasises giving the right answer.

Sam says, “…her reaction was very receptive, humble, and thankful! She said, ‘I really want to know how to read the Bible properly and actually apply God’s word!’ We went on to have a big discussion which helped clarify how we can work hard at hearing what God is saying in a particular passage and apply it to our own context.”

Sam’s willingness to challenge this student led to an opportunity to help her grow in living out God’s word.

Weekly prayer meeting at Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.

Supported by the body of Christ

God also shows his love through his imperfect body of believers—including CMS missionaries and their families and the churches and Christian groups they are part of, in locations all over the world. He reminds them that whatever they are facing, they are not alone. He is also equipping them to encourage others in his love.

In Germany, CMS missionaries Klaus and Jude Hickel have walked alongside Julian, a church member who faced hurts and doubts and many theological questions. Two years after leaving Leipzig English Church (LEC) and even Leipzig, Julian was on his way to Brazil to become a missionary priest. During a goodbye visit, God powerfully intervened and convicted him to move back to Leipzig and to LEC.

Julian says, “My church family have been by my side even when things got tough. It has been an absolute privilege to see Christ reflected in people like Klaus and Jude. Even when I was far away, they and their three boys Ollie, Lukas and Max loved me like their own son or brother. When I returned from going astray, they cared for me in ways I can never repay or thank them enough for. This opened up a completely new understanding of the love God has for us and of the parable of the prodigal son, as well as the woman who found the coin she had lost—Jude was a perfect resemblance of that, she literally wanted to throw a party and invite friends to celebrate!”

At short notice, Jude did indeed throw a small party on learning of Julian’s plans to remain at their church!

Julian celebrating with the Hickel boys.

The blessing of community

Damaris was originally a part of the GBU student group in Bari, Italy, where CMS missionaries Jess and Simon Cowell are involved. Now a graduate nurse and part of their church, Damaris serves alongside Jess in children’s ministry and is so thankful for the blessing of deep relationships she has found in Christian community. Damaris says:

“Being part of the GBU and church has helped me to realise that there are many common challenges as believers. I am not alone in confronting them, but have the support of others in the GBU or church—Christian communities where we can pray for each other and help one another.”   

In Numbulwar, in North Australia, CMS missionary Josh Mackenzie witnessed Robert, who had recently come to faith in Christ, decide not to attend an important traditional ceremony. Robert explains that the church, the ‘missionary mob’ is making a difference to his life, helping him to:

“Keep walking on the right path [and] keep learning… I keep encouraging young people too.”

What a joy to partner with CMS missionaries as they share God’s word and share in community with people like Joel, Julian, Damaris and Robert, encouraging them to persevere and grow as disciples of Jesus.

Robert (far right) at Bible study in Numbulwar.

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Our partnership through CMS enables missionaries to walk with believers through life’s ups and downs, helping them persevere in faith. Would you give generously to CMS to play your part in this vital life-transforming work? You can donate here.