Thursday, December 29, 2011


Pioneering In today’s world.

The Pioneering spirit originated in God.  He is the original Pioneer. He pioneered in creating the world and us when He could have been content with heaven.
Pioneering is sharing God’s love
God took risks in creating both the angelic hosts and Man. Yet for Him it was a love worth risking. When man failed to receive love in one form, God pioneered into acting it out in a different way. The Devil too pioneered in inventing ways to destroy all that God was doing. So pioneering can be for selfish reasons or altruistic reasons. It can be for enslavement or freedom. It can either promote life or death. We have examples of both in abundance in the history of mankind.  Jesus pioneered in reclaiming all that was lost or corrupted and in bondage. His pioneering started in heaven, limiting himself of privileges and rights and took upon incarnation, entering into the dark world. It involved a simple life style, hard work, being misunderstood, laughed at and labeled. He experienced rejection, loneliness and pain as a result of it. He saw many deeply entrenched in religion yet trapped and hardened by it. They had a negative vision and power struggles. Others oppressed, harassed and controlled both from with in and with out. Incarnation helped Jesus to enter their lives and feel what they felt. He watched the way society and religion functioned and how it shut God out. Yet he saw the yearning in many to seek truth and have a revelation of God. These people longed for some kind of touch from God out there. Jesus pioneered in revealing God and gave Him a face. He lived a life so radical in loving, that he could unashamedly say, “He who sees me sees God”.

Jesus the God-revealing Pioneer
After walking around the villages and towns of Galilee, Jesus was at His best when He hung on a cross. He showed that God is on the side of man and no power on earth or hell could separate man from His love. He pioneered in death defeating and hell conquering life style. He pioneered in absolute trust in God and obedience unto death, displaying that the urge to sin could be overcome.  Yes, Jesus, above all pioneered in showing that this world is not the ultimate reality, but there is a life beyond the grave and it is possible to have eternal hope through His resurrection. He called the disciples, all weak, fearful and ordinary people, to pioneer in the spreading of God’s kingdom.
Now you and me
As a follower of this matchless pioneer of faith, love and hope, I am called, as you are called, to this adventure of life-giving pioneering! It means incarnation to a new situation and a definite sense of being sent out into the same old dark world. Nothing has changed after 2000 years either in God or in humanity. The message to man is the same and the remedy for his sickness is the same. It is a call to ‘Act out faith, love and hope” in the way Jesus did. All those who truly follow Jesus will face similar experiences. But there will be great Joy deep within. We have a responsibility to know what is happening around us and enter into our neighbor’s story. Empathy ought to become compassion. The Pioneering spirit is to know how to express this compassion in practical terms and also using the Jesus’ way. It is a calling to remain uncontaminated by the moral filth and pressure to take on the worldly ways to solve problems. The pioneer needs to be constantly in need of inner transformation.
Pioneers are God’s commando force
In this there are risks and no guarantees. The whole picture is not given. It calls for trust in a God who is also the Father. Whatever may be the vision and the call, the pioneering spirit ought to be a loving, compassionate otherworldly spirit. There are many in the world who are involved in both good and useful ventures. Evil too is alive and will do everything to undo and undermine God’s mission mainly through interpersonal problems.
The Medical Mission in India had many pioneers. Learn from them. Read history. Now many such missions have lost their visionaries and have become just a structure that continues to do the ritual of routine medical work. It is so predictable and calculative; there is nothing exciting that draws one’s heart. Missions have negative rituals and many leaders do not have the courage to dismantle the structure and look afresh for a reason for its existence. Where is God in the Mission? Can these dead bones live? These are disturbing questions. God is able to raise up new people who will take up the new challenges if the old mission has lost its purpose. Just like the religious system prevented people from experiencing God and being transformed, the mission set up can be the biggest hindrance to any pioneering spirit. God is always doing something new. So the old pattern of functioning needs to be put aside to create space for the new wine to discover its potential. The new pioneers need the support and wisdom of the old. Know and understand the history of the mission. Respect the past but have the courage and freedom to experiment with the new. Every new thing will become old in a matter of time. Someone else will come and do something different and life goes on as usual. It is okay, as long as it is all part of the Kingdom building process.
The Pioneer
His person:
His own personal encounter with the risen Lord qualifies him to be sent out as a pioneer. His model is Jesus Christ. He sees the world through God’s eyes and feels the needs the way God would feel. In the process he will be changed from within to become an instrument in God’s hands. He believes in the power of God’s word to speak and direct his steps. He accepts the correction and encouragement of God’s spirit. He realizes his strengths and weaknesses and is aware of various temptations to which he is vulnerable and takes the necessary precautions to be obedient to his Lord. He also realizes that his failures are not fatalities and God is able to bring out something good out of all negative situations. He has the ability to use the past as fertilizer for the future growth. The pioneer is primarily in a field for his own transformation and growth. If this is not achieved his whole mission becomes an anti witness.
His mission: incarnation
His mission cannot be different from his master’s. It is to incarnate God’s love in a broken world and being an agent of re- conciliation and redemption. Jesus knew people and the way they felt and thought. He knew the struggles, the temptations and the oppressions. So the pioneer needs to prepare himself with sufficient knowledge and skills to enhance the healing process. He will not use these to promote himself or to make a big empire of self-glorification. The skill and knowledge ought to be upgraded according to the need and used as a tool to help people.
His field: unlimited
This can vary from person to person. The need in a particular field can be difficult to meet realistically but can be challenging for the pioneer if that is the call. It can be slum work, palliative care, and counseling. It can be work in an old mission hospital, either as a GP or a specialist. It may be private practice, polyclinic or freelancing. It may be a socio-economic development project or running a home for addicts or those afflicted with HIV. But job-hopping seems to be arising from a lack of commitment and inability to be part of a team. What ever may be the area of work, he ought to be part of a team and a servant. There is a need to value the gifts of others and work as partners in God’s field. He needs to see himself as a people- person and become part of the suffering community at a personal level instead of becoming a mission compound person.
His team: relationships
Here wisdom is needed in knowing who can fit in and who can be involved and trained to share the vision. The team ought to have people with different skills and knowledge and who will give differing points of view. They should be able to feel the pulse of the people around and be sensitive to the situation and provide wisdom. There needs to be openness, accountability and integrity. The team needs to sharpen each other to keep the Kingdom values and purposes as priorities in all decisions. The power of money needs to be dethroned and the unrighteous mammon ought to be used for furthering the things of eternal value. Looking to God for unmet needs and holding on to His promises ought to be the lifestyle of the team. Any unwise decisions and its consequences can be avoided through wise counsel.
His support:
It is important to develop a group who will pray and provide spiritual nourishment to the pioneer and his team. Some individual may need financial backing till the work is established. Others need emotional support. Good communication with people around and with those who send the pioneer needs to be a day-to-day reality. He needs to have a lifestyle that will speak what he believes. Greed and covetousness that reflect the lack of trust ought to be abandoned. Hidden agendas and motives in financial matters only undermine the power of resurrection in one’s life.
His own family:
Again the need to have a shared vision and on going dialogue with one’s own family and choosing a lifestyle that reflects Kingdom joy and peace must become a priority. Standing together as a family in God’s given field has big strength. Time given to family is time invested wisely. Passion for the living God and His plans can be caught by one’s own children if they are loved and cared for through Jesus’ eyes. One’s family and God’s family in the mission field can be the biggest source of strength for continuing the work. To sacrifice God’s call for the sake of family’s material needs is a big temptation and the war zone is filled with many such casualties.
Reality check:
None of the above guarantees a smooth sailing in pioneering. The enemy is constantly pulling down what we cherish. There will be sabotage and unexpected events and turmoil. Yet the deep conviction of the call and the encounter with truth will be the only anchor at these times for the pioneer. There are many great moments of joy for the pioneer. He experiences much appreciation and respect from simple people. There are many who pray for him and the work. Seeing God answering prayers and meeting needs can lift his spirit high and give strength to go on. Even professional satisfaction takes a new shade. Physical and emotional tiredness can be discouraging. Spiritual darkness can lead to days of depression. Interpersonal difficulties can take away all the energy even to look at another day with hope. One has to believe that all these will pass as the days go by. Yet he needs to examine himself to know whether the problems are caused by his own attitudes and way of functioning rather than some body else's. Sometimes a break is needed to get away to find rest and rejuvenation. Others may need a change of pace and programs. God is able to provide these at the right time. Every burnt out or distressed person in the field reminds us that there are others who are not responding to God’s call. Thus the load has become heavier for the pioneer. Moving away from the call because of disappointments, failures or lack of resources may not be the right thing for someone who heard the call.
So may God give the pioneering spirit abundantly to all those who are willing to get out of the present systems of the world including the traditional mission setup. Let us run after the living God. It is an adventure of faith. It is a walk with God. It is beholding Jesus, the pioneer of faith, hope and love and becoming a channel for blessing!

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