Part 3 of our PRAY series all about the ministry of the Church of the Nazarene around the world.
Today we look at the world area of Asia-Pacific. Before we get into the details of the region, what life is like for people who live there and what their needs are, I think we need our expectations shattered…just a little bit. You see so many times we might hear a mission lesson, a presentation from a missionary and learn of their poverty. “This village doesn’t have clean drinking water.” And we are moved to raise money for a well and pump. We learn of natural and manmade disasters and we send crisis care packets. We leave that time, believing that we, Americans, have done a great thing and God has helped us. We’ve helped those poor people on the other side of the globe. We think, “If we don’t help, who will?”
Maybe I’m not being fair or perhaps just overly simplistic, but we aren’t white knights riding in on steads. Instead, as I learned about the Asia-pacific region I’ve discovered that we are more joining in with them in ministering to those in their region. The theme today is compassion. I’ve not got a better word for it. We will see compassion is lived out and is the key desire that the people from this area want for their fellow brothers and sisters.
Where exactly is the Asia-Pacific region? What countries does it include and what is daily life like for the people who live there?
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Explore this region first hand. Head over to their website. https://asiapacificnazarene.org/
Let’s begin with an easy one, where in the world are we talking about?
Here are the Field Areas in no particular order:
- Australia – New Zealand
- Chinese Ministries
- Japan National District
- Korea National District (South Korea, officially. Formerly in the whole of Korea)
- Melanesia – South Pacific (Papua New Guinea, Samoa)
- Philippines – Micronesia (Philippines, Guam, Palau, Saipan, and Federation of the states of Micronesia)
So that’s how this world area, (and it is a BIG one,) is divided up. If you saw it on a map, you’d notice that there are whole swaths of land, countries that could be part of Asia-Pacific, but are not. That is not for lack of desire on the part of the church of the Nazarene. That just means that the country and government is not friendly or open to Christianity. Also, it means that any Nazarenes we have there are meeting secretly.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”Romans 10:14 NIV
People have gone before, missionaries have come, bibles, pamphlets, and supplies have been dropped. Aren’t you glad that the kingdom of God knows nothing about borders? Cares nothing for man’s sovereignty. God spreads where he wants. And the whole world is HIS.
Let me share with you some details about some of these Mission Fields. I confess my missionary ignorance. I didn’t know the Church of the Nazarene was in Australia and New Zealand. For all it’s Westernization and modernization, Australia only came to have the Church of the Nazarene in it in 1976! I know that was 46 years ago, but if you consider that other missionary work became established in the Asia-Pacific region as early as 1905, this is a very recent mission field.
I want to share with you the article on the church of the Nazarene in Japan. Yes, Japan! Did you know we’ve been there for a very long time? This from the Japan National District page:
“In 1905, Pastor Williams and Pastor Poole came to Japan from the US Holiness Christian Church. They belonged to the Tokyo Nobu Church and served in Tokyo for two years before moving to Kyoto in 1907, where they opened Sunday School.
In October 1908, the Holiness Christian Church, which was their sending organization in the United States of America, joined the Nazarene Church, and they were accepted by the Foreign Mission Bureau of the Nazarene Church, the first Japanese missionary mission to the Nazarene Church in Japan. This is the beginning of the Nazarene Church in Japan.”https://asiapacificnazarene.org/fields/japan-national-district/
So many other surprising stories of where and when God has used the Church of the Nazarene. I wonder what stories we will be able to share in another 100 plus years?
Prayer guide praises & website news stories
Summing up what Asia-Pacific seems to be all about, it’s compassion. We will unpack some scriptures about the topic of Compassion and how it connects to our everyday life. But suffice it to say, Asia-Pacific lives out the example.
Numerous examples of generosity and no doubt, financial sacrifice were shared with us. The only Nazarene Hospital in that region is in Papua New Guinea. Like many other hospitals all around the world, Kudjip Nazarene Hospital needed all the help they could get to serve people through the past two years. Australia-New Zealand answered the call and raised $245,000 for the hospital.
One story that took me by surprise, but again…shouldn’t have, was hearing the unrest and dangerous times for those residing in Myanmar. I had to do a bit of digging but I discovered that Myanmar, (sometimes called Burma) underwent a political coup. In February of 2021, a free election was held, a leader was chosen and won by a landslide. The leader of the Myanmar military backed the losing candidate. So what did he do? Initiate a hostile takeover of the leadership of Myanmar. I share this with you not to get political, though I wondered what our country’s response was to this seeming slap in the face of democracy? Well I did more research. The US Department of State has consolidated reports of their actions as a result of this coup in Myanmar. From what I gleaned, they imposed sanctions, financially and personally cutting off the leader of the coup and any supporter.
This wasn’t just an aggressive change of power and all the people fell in line, bowing to their overlord. Nope. Protests were had…and then those protests were put down with lethal and non-lethal force. A militia was formed to fight the military in hopes of restoring the government to its previous place, but it hasn’t worked yet. Just over a year after the coup and we have 1,500 people dead and over 10,000 imprisoned. (Numbers vary by source)
Aren’t you glad this is an informative Blogpost? No? Well here’s the rest of the story.
God is at work through his people, even in the midst of all that pain and sadness. How so? Churches in the Philippines-Micronesia field were able to raise funds to support the Myanmar districts and 17 seminary students who were unable to return to Myanmar due to the civil unrest and Covid travel restrictions. They blessed those in need with $4,400. I can’t even fathom what it must feel like to be one of those seminary students. You go to the Philippines for theological education and ministry training and all of a sudden…you can’t return home. You’re stuck. How will you be able to support yourself or your family and stay on track with your studies? God made a way through the generosity of the people of this region. Out of horrific civil wars and military coups, God partners with people to show compassion.
Compassion: The Heart of Asia-Pacific
The word for compassion in Greek is σπλαγχνίζομαι (splanchnizomai)
In it’s various forms, it occurs in the New Testament 12 times. We are going to look a the 5 times it’s used in the book of Matthew.
The first time the word compassion comes up is Matt 9:36,
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.MAtthew 9:36 NIV
This very first occurrence of the word, splanchnizomai, sets the pace and the setting for future uses. The scene works like this:
- Jesus comes
- He sees someone in need of something
- His heart is moved by what he sees
- He does something to address that need
We will see this again in Matt 14:14
“And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”
Also just a little bit later, Jesus’ compassion is verbally expressed by Jesus himself.
“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”.Matt 15:32 NIV
A little later on, Jesus comes across two blind men. They beg him for mercy. He stops and asks them what they want him to do for them. They request sight. Matt 20:34 reads:
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
A few chapters prior to this, Jesus tells a parable.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.Matt 18:23-27 NIV
Compassion sometimes is translated as “took pity” or “pity” on someone or thing. I do believe New Testament scholar Bill Mounce probably has the sentence structure right when he translates it “Moved with compassion, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” This pattern in Matthew’s writing is not an accident.
- Here’s the Activity. (Moved with Compassion)
- Here’s the Response. (Do something to address the need.)
As a minister, one act of compassion I get to do is guiding families through the difficult time of loss. Their family member dies. Someone works with a funeral home to make sure the person’s remains’ are laid to rest, respectfully. In Indonesia, at the height of the pandemic, this was not something they were able to keep up with. The full details are in the Prayer guide from this week, but suffice it to say, one pastor was willing to risk exposure to show compassion. He was granted permission to re-bury bodies of these people and as the article puts it, bury them in a more “compassionate” way.
I present to you today that the people of Asia-Pacific Region are moved with compassion. They are moved and then they do something in response to address the need. They are not a wealthy people, but they are generous with their resources and focused on the mission. Their desire is that all of their people would be on the same page. That page is the 5 Areas of Impact for Nazarene Missions International.
5 areas of impact
Asia-Pac Prayer is that they will support the NMI 5 Areas of Impact
This is is one of the oldest and most important works of the church
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
We seek God through prayer. We seek his will, power, guidance, and healing. The whole shebang. The next two are all about Generosity.
Generosity – World Evangelism Fund
This generally helps to financially support the work of the Church of the Nazarene all around the globe. When you give locally, here at Viroqua, A portion of that offering goes on to our district needs and some of it goes to the general needs of the Church.
Generosity – Alabaster Offering
As we just collected last week, this bi-annual offering goes to support the purchase of new property, Buildings, parsonages, schools, medical facilities. This giving helps the church get a foothold in areas long thought to be unreachable.
Engage Children & Youth
Educating about & Fostering Missional calls. This is so important! There are fewer and fewer missionaries being sent every year and more are retiring than the church can keep up with. So to make a plan to educate people on their call to missions, to help grow a love for a world area that God is calling them to. It’s so very important. All areas were initially reached by missionaries and God is not done using missions to reach people.
Connecting and Caring for Missionaries
Connecting local churches with missionaries.
Enabling local churches to relationally connect with missionaries, participate in their mission through prayer and generosity.
Their prayer is that their churches would intentionally engage in mission work, even if they personally never leave their pews.
What’s the difference between us and the folks in Asia-Pacific? They took a page out of Jesus’ book.
- They stopped.
- They see a need
- Their hearts are moved by what they see.
- They take steps to address the need they see.
So what’s our part in all this?
Call to action – JOIN THEM
No, Please don’t move to Australia or Japan…at least not right now. I’d miss you too much!
Our hearts can join with the Asia Pacific folks. Here’s two practical options:
- Pray for their request – That their region would be fully on board with these areas of impact.
2. Pick one of these areas you’d like to learn more about, or focus on yourself and begin to develop it in your life
3. OK…if God calls you to be a missionary, don’t let me stop you! I’d love to chat with you about your call to missions and put you in touch with others who can guide you further. Leave a comment below or message me. If you already live in this world region, Awesome! Thanks for checking out our blog and please know you can always be a missionary right where God has placed you.