Is the Purpose of Missions the GOSPEL or the KINGDOM?

by Laura Parker on January 20, 2014

india

We sat across the table from them and they leveled questions at us about our work. It felt a little Spanish Inquisition, honestly.

“What happens to the girls after they are rescued? Do you give them the gospel? Can you guarantee they end up in a Christian after care center?”

And we had to honestly give them answers they didn’t like.

The government has authority, we said, so we can’t guarantee where the girls end up, though we do advocate their placement in quality after care, more often than not which is run by Christian organizations.

No, we don’t give them the gospel right after the raid. The spiritual abuse involved in that practice– giving a girl the four spiritual laws in the midst of the trauma of a rescue operation–feels well, exploitative.

No, we can’t guarantee they will hear the name Jesus in the process of our work.

You see, we work to empower undercover investigations into sex trafficking in India and SE Asia with The Exodus Road. We purposefully chose to make the organization secular, in an attempt to build more bridges with government partners and in an effort to bring as many people around the table for the sake of the victim. We have investigators that are Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu. And yes, Christian, too. We are a focused coalition that sends men and women into dark places on behalf of the child. And it’s working. 250 girls and women have been pulled out of brothels because of the brave efforts of our field partners– most of whom are not of the Christian faith.

But to the men sitting across the table from us considering financial support, that wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough to live gospel, in their opinions, we needed to say it, too.

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It reminded me of other conversations we’ve had with many in the church-world who’ve said to us essentially, “Why save them from an earthly hell if you can’t save them from an eternal one?”

And I’ll be brutally honest, that type of thinking hurts. It hurts that Christians would so quickly write off justice if there’s no promise of the Romans Road. It hurts us personally, as we are bleeding out for this mission, but it mostly hurts for the girl behind the locked doors–the one who desperately needs brave, compassionate people to rise up on her behalf, regardless of her spiritual choices, past, present or future.

And I get that in missions there are church planters and evangelists and gospel-in-word-givers. And I’m not saying that missions can’t be that, but can’t it also be ushering in the Kingdom? Because the Kingdom comes when God’s will is done on earth, and I’m convinced God’s will is not sexual slavery for poor and oppressed women around the world.

And shouldn’t the Church, his name-bearers, be the ones out front leading the fight for this Kingdom-coming? Giving, with no strings or expectations attached? Protecting, without the hidden agenda to convert?

And if for some reason, a “missionary” can only love wildly but silently, does this negate the gospel, the good news, he or she is bringing to another human being? 

I can’t think of anything more gospel than going into a seedy brothel and loving by rescuing. It reminds me a lot of Jesus.

Though, admittedly, it doesn’t fit most missionary job descriptions.

Laura Parker, Co-Founder, Editor, Former Aid Worker to SE Asia

blog: Laura Parker Writes   |   work: The Exodus Road   |   twitter: @mrslauraparker 

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I fully expect disagreement with this post. I’m okay with that. Please know that I do respect those who actively and verbally communicate the gospel to others. Having said that, I’d love to know your (honest, respectful, kind) thoughts about this topic–

Can missions be ONLY-KINGDOM or does it have to be VERBAL-GOSPEL or can it be BOTH? 

Other posts here that might be of interest: Rice Christians and Fake Conversions  |  The Purpose of Missions– Uh, What Is It, Again?   | How an Atheist is Teaching Me to Live Like Jesus   |  The Gospel of the Brothel 

*photo credit: David Bartsch

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About Laura Parker

Living on three continents and moving 15 times in 15 years of marriage, Laura is no stranger to transition. Recently living in SE Asia with her family, Laura now serves as the VP of a counter-trafficking organization which her husband began, The Exodus Road. Laura is the co-founder and editor here at A Life Overseas and writes at her blog, http://www.LauraParkerWrites.com.

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