At a day event for the Interserve supporter-network, Paul Hardingham the minister at St. Peter’s church in Halliwell, Bolton, gave a terrific Bible focus from Matthew 9:35-38. Here’s a shortened rendering of that text:
35 Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, proclaiming the good news and healing. 36 …the crowds [provoked] compassion on him, because they were harassed and helpless. 37…he said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9)
This is a beautiful description of what we in Interserve call ‘wholistic gospel ministry’. It shows how the polarity created when western Evangelicals separate “proclamation” from “works of service” is not a valid distinction. Jesus always modelled the balance of ‘proclaiming’; teaching; healing; compassion; social justice; and reaching the marginalised or least served with the good news.
All this is normative for us in Interserve, but what hit us in Bolton, with particular impact, is in verse 38 where “asking” precedes “sending” which precedes “going” in order to replicate what Jesus did. If we continue to chapter 10 it reveals this being done as follows:
1Jesus called the twelve and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and heal sickness…5 He sent them out saying: 6 “Go… 7 and as you go, proclaim… 8 Heal…raise the dead, cleanse the leprosy suffers…drive out demons…Freely you have received; freely give”. (Matthew 10)
So let’s invest our time right at the point where mission begins – with the critical “ASK”.