David McGillivray, a 20-year-old leader at Oxygen Life Church in Port Elizabeth who will be attending the INcontext Ministries 23:59 Missions Conference next week, recently experienced a life-changing and faith-growing missions trip to Mumbai, India. He was part of a church team that went to support a local pastor working mostly with widows and orphans in the fourth most populous city in the world.
McGillivray, who studied at YWAM’s Media Village in Durbanville last year, said that it is vital for short-term groups to approach missions with a goal of partnering with and coming alongside local churches, so that any people who hear about Jesus for the first time can be effectively discipled and pastored by local believers once the visiting group leaves. This particular short-term outreach included visiting churches in the slums, ministry in discipleship groups for businessmen, and encouraging local believers.
While people in India seem to be very willing to hear about and accept Jesus, follow-up Biblical teaching is necessary in order to make it clear that Jesus it not just another god among the array of gods worshiped by Hindus. Yet McGillivray says that in a culture where people worship wrathful and demanding gods out of fear for what might be done to them or their families, Jesus stands out as vastly different to what they have always known, and hearing about a God of love and mercy, who sacrificed all for His people, is completely life-altering.
Challenge of extreme suffering
One of the greatest challenges faced by the team was the exposure to the poverty, pain and suffering of people in such extremes. McGillivray said that for non-Christian aid workers coming into India, the situation would seem completely hopeless from a worldly perspective. “If you take Jesus out of the equation, where would you even start attempting to make a difference among people who live in such absolute poverty?” Yet when it comes to missions, the focus is on eternity, and hope comes from seeking the glory of God beyond the seeming hopelessness of the situation. And McGillivray said that the team had seen God at work in very real ways during their trip.
In a Facebook post from India, McGillivray wrote the following: “My eyes have been opened! I can’t go back home the same! I refuse to not be changed! Challenged, stretched, broken for the hopeless and poor, rethinking the way I go about life. Every city is actually the same – broken people looking for hope. In every city the good news of Jesus must be made known. There is power in the Name of Jesus! I’ve only become so much more aware of that here, where the real rawness of life is lying all around you on the streets. In Jesus, true freedom is found!” He described how, during one particular healing service, he had a revelation in terms of discovering the promises of the Bible to be reality – as a Christian, he was truly a son of God, and as such, he had the authority to minister to people like Jesus did, asking God to heal people and casting out demons in Jesus’ Name. He was amazed to realise who he truly was in Jesus Christ, and to see God working things out through his being available to serve.
Drastically renewed outlook
McGillivray says that he has returned with a drastically renewed outlook on life, in a number of ways. Firstly, he is overwhelmingly grateful for the blessings in his life. Seeing how ordinary people live in India made him so humbled and aware of the comforts and privileges of his ‘ordinary’ life in South Africa. Secondly, he realised how most westernised Christians are indoctrinated by a consumer mindset, which compromises spiritual devotion. “You know, I walk around thinking that I need a new pair of shoes. And the reality is that I don’t need a new pair of shoes. I only want them, but I have been conditioned to want them.” He described how believers in India seem to worship differently, more ‘purely’, because Jesus is literally all they have. “And the truth is that these people, who seem to have nothing in terms of the world, actually have so much more than we do. The Kingdom of God is upside-down compared to the kingdom of this world, and in God’s Kingdom-economics, those believers have the only thing that matters and therefore have everything.”
Finally, McGillivray talks about how walking around the streets of Mumbai has opened his eyes to recognise the desperate need that all people have for the truth and hope and life that Jesus offers, starting back home in Port Elizabeth. “Going to India is not the only way to be effective in the Kingdom of God,” he says. “But as Christians, we all need to start being intentional about sharing Jesus in our everyday lives, at every chance we get. Everywhere we look, we will find people who are broken and hopeless and whose lives can be turned around through someone caring enough to share Jesus with them. That’s what missions comes down to, and it is for all Christians in all places, not only in those places that require a passport. What is stopping us from wanting to tell people about what Jesus has done for us?”
Need for more missions activities in changing world
McGillivray will be attending the 23:59 Missions Conference next week when it comes to Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, July 11. This conference aims to make youth and young adults aware of the need for increased missions activities in a changing world, both in terms of sending and supporting, as well as actually going in person to where God is working. When asked why young people should make an effort to attend this conference, McGillivray said, “Because God’s heart is in missions. Jesus was all about making disciples, and He told His followers to do the same. It’s all there in Matthew 28:19 – ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. That instruction was for everyone, not just some people. Whether abroad or in our local communities, we all need to be willing to obey that. And it’s a joy to do so.”
The INcontext 23:59 Missions Conference will be held in Kimberley on Monday 9 July, in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday 11 July and in Johannesburg on Saturday 14 July.
More information is available on the INcontext Ministries website, or by contacting the following people: Mike Burnard – email@example.com or 082 865 7380; Gustav Krös (Kimberley) – firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 299 6502; and Sakkie Fourie (Johannesburg) – email@example.com or 082 878 6566.