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Why Do We Need Mission Work?


What's all the ruckus about? We are asked to send money to West Africa, Guatemala, and Honduras, not to mention the latest victims of a weatherborne tragedy. We need to support this Compassionate Child or that Shoebox Industry. All this, plus we have missionaries around the world. Why?

We do mission work because it follows Christ's example. Jesus went from the Sea of Galilee to Judea, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, visiting the impoverished, and teaching through word and deed, all in trying to reach people for the Kingdom of God. If that was Jesus' mission, shouldn't it be ours?

Jesus gives us the freedom to go into our mission and service trips with the goal of just plain ministering. Whether ministering to orphans starved for attention and human warmth or forging bricks and mortar to create shelters for community-shared activities, the need and the opportunities are endless. As we remove the cultural blinders, discard the limitations we place on God's definition of ministry, "leave the driving" to God, we may begin to understand what it means to be Jesus' hands, feet, and eyes to a hurting world.

PC(USA) began its participation with missionaries doing God's work in Africa in present-day Equatorial Guinea in 1869. PC(USA) has long understood that ministry and mission must be built on a foundation of dialogue rather than dictation. That mission, if it is to be successful, sustainable, and mutually beneficial, must be God inspired and God directed and based on a two-way partnership. An example of such a partnership is our water filtration project in Guatemala (Safe Water in Guatemala or "SWIG"). The human interaction of meeting and working with Rosario at her medical clinic identified a need and a feasible process. WPC is involved in funding and coordinating from manufacturing to installing of more than 220 water filters to date that serve extended Guatemalan families.

Similarly, in Congo, girls educated in English and computer skills are now too valuable to be forced into early marriage. Schooling structured to fulfill identified needs battles poverty and stimulates hope for a better tomorrow.

At least 94 million Christians today were educated by or treated in hospitals started by Presbyterians. Some 200 Presbyterian missionaries on our behalf are now creating "communities of mission practice" in more than 50 countries, addressing the root causes of poverty, preventing violence toward women and children, and creating bridges for reconciliation among cultures of violence.

There is great value and power in prayer, worship, study, fellowship, and the many other activities that typically take place within our church walls. However, when we stop there, we miss the point.