Thursday, May 03, 2007

Asia, Jesus Cares !

I'll be posting some of the articles we have been writing and putting together on the daily newsletter of the 7th Asian Baptist Congress 2007. I don't have the time to post this on time, so posts here might a day late.

Anyway, I'm posting here the message by the Asian Baptist Federation Secretary General Rev. Bonny Resu.

Asia, Jesus Cares ! This is the theme for the 7th Asian Baptist Congressbeing held here in Chiang Mai, Thailand starting today, May 2 until May 6, 2007. Our Lord Jesus Christ embodies care. Care is love in action! Our God, who cares for theworld and its people, cares for Asia! Surely God cares for Asia – where you find 2/3 ofhumanity; where you can see the largest number of unreached people groups (with only 8 percentof the population claiming to be followers of Christ); where 70% (or 700 million) of the world’spoorest— having less then 1 US Dollar a day— and some of the world’s richest are; where naturalcalamities are regular features and are expected every year without fail; where economic problems,levels of pollution and ecological damages are reaching breaking point; where the levels ofcorruption and human rights abuses in some Asian countries are at worst; where many churches(including Baptist churches), despite their age,stagnated and haven’t grown as they should, ratherare stuck in the swamp of their ‘traditions’ or petty church politics.

Because God cares for all, He also bids us to care!

Our AssuranceFor us who believe in Him, it is comforting to know that He knows us and cares for us! It was forthis reason King David felt secure even when he ‘went through the valley of the shadow of death’! (Psalms 23).We have a loving God who is also almighty, powerful and sovereign. This is why Paul had the courage to say that‘all things will work for good to those who love the Lord’(Rom. 8: 28). In sorrow or in joy, in poverty or in riches,in sickness or in health, we know that God cares and that His covenant with us (Heb. 9:15) will not falter!

In Response

In the words of Paul, our grateful response should then be to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom.12:1),which means we should make Him Lord of our lives and pledge to obey and do His will. This goes beyond whatwe do in a church service or evangelistic rally. It must permeate and affect our daily lives. It is a commitmentto do the things that are important to Jesus Christ! In God’s words through the prophet Micah (Micah 6:8) “Ihave shown you what is good. O Men! To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God!”One way of responding to Jesus is to be willing to do something to address the needs of people in practicalmanner, just like what He did! (Matthew 11:5). Over and above man’s soul, He cared for the whole person. Thegood news therefore must be the goodness of God being demonstrated in tangible terms, and we, being Christlikeshould also touch the lives of real persons in real terms. This could be the reason why the early Christiansgained favor from the people during their day and age, despite persecutions and sanctions!

Institutionalizing Love

Therefore, we must plan and ensure that we have a mechanism set in place to enable the church, as aninstitution, to respond to the needs of others around us.This could mean encouraging every church, associationand convention to have a department or committee to address the practical needs of the needy in their context.In the context of the ABF, I believe we already made a small progress with our effort to institute theAsian Baptist Aid. This was sparked by the Asian Tsunami disaster, which required a response by theBaptist family of the Asia Pacific region. In doing Tsunami relief and rehabilitation, we realized thatthere are also many calamities and human needs which we termed as ‘silent tsunamis’ (e.g. diseases and povertythat cause the deaths of thousands!). Such world demands our response. We cannotafford to be mere spectators!

Are the Baptists of Asia willing to take the challenge? Are we willing to do something usingour own resources even without depending on partnership from the outside? We have in many casesreduced ourselves to being mere channels of ‘foreign help’. While we must welcome partnership from theworldwide Christian family in doing good, we must be cautious of becoming a NGO that exists only when themoney is available from another source.

The ABF Congress is a good opportunity to ponder over these questions. Let us be inspiredand challenged to become more caring! Because we ourselves are recipients of God’s love and care (1 John 4:19)!

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