ArticleEvangelism & Discipleship

Coming and Going: How the Gospel Compels Us to Frontier Missions

Jesus gave the invitation to come and the imperative to go.
Are you coming or going?

In a recent FaceTime conversation with my mom, she asked me what was happening in my life and ministry. As I outlined the events and travel required for my job in missionary mobilization and then added the events and travel required to visit my kids and grandkids who live in different states, she shook her head and said, “Wow, I bet you don’t even know if you’re coming or going, do you?”

Typically, when this expression is used, it implies a level of confusion, chaos, or feeling overwhelmed. Every day we find ourselves coming and going to meetings, appointments, and events. Coming and going can sometimes create confusion in life and ministry.

It might sound strange, but the words come and go are similar. Both are verbs. Both involve movement from one place to another. Come means to move or travel towards the one speaking, or to move with the one speaking to get to a particular place. Go means to travel or move to another place. The difference lies in the direction of the movement. Every day we find ourselves coming and going.

When we think about the gospel and the Great Commission, it’s all about coming and going. Come is the invitation. Go is the imperative. Both were given by Jesus and both demand a response from the ones to whom he was speaking. There should be no confusion about this coming and going.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus gave the invitation: “Come to me and find rest.” The grammar reveals come was more than an invitation—it was an imperative. Jesus commanded lost people to come to him. As the bread of life, Jesus said, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35). As the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus said no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). He also rebuked the Pharisees for refusing his invitation to come to him so that they might have life (John 5:40).

The gospel is all about coming to Jesus for forgiveness of sin, satisfaction of hunger, access to the Father, and eternal life. But the gospel is all about going too.

The Great Commission is Jesus’ command to go. Yes, the imperative verb in Matthew 28:19 is “make disciples.” But the participles “go,” “baptize,” and “teach” carry the weight of an imperative. The command is impossible to obey without going. First we come to Jesus to receive his salvation. Then we go for Jesus to declare his salvation.

ABWE’s Open Initiative involves coming and going. It is the result of Jesus’ invitation to come and a response to Jesus’ imperative to go. Burdened by the reality that one third of humanity has never heard the name of Jesus, ABWE launched the Open Initiative to send seven teams to seven strategic locations throughout the world that currently have little or no gospel presence. Jesus’ extraordinary call to go drives us to the uttermost parts of the earth—closed countries and unreached people groups.

The Open Initiative extends a gospel invitation to the unreached Syrian refugees, the Japanese of Tokyo, the Fulanis of West Africa, the South Asians, the Southeast Asians, and many Caribbeans who are expats from other nations. It calls them to come to Jesus Christ for true forgiveness, life, hope, and relationship with God. It is an invitation for these people groups to come to Jesus.

But for these peoples to come to Jesus, someone must go to them with his message. These people groups have never heard the name of Jesus. They have no Bible, no churches, and no gospel witness. Paul’s words in Romans are relevant to us today:

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).

ABWE’s Open Initiative teases out the imperative to go. This is what going looks. It means going to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8) to the Syrian refugees, the Japanese of Tokyo, the Fulanis of West Africa, the South Asians, the Southeast Asians, and immigrants in the Caribbean. It means going to hard places to reach hard peoples—declaring the gospel so that these peoples can come to the invitation Jesus has given.

We must do what Jesus described in his parable of the Great Banquet, “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’” (Luke 14:23, emphasis added).

Everyone who accepts Jesus’ invitation to come must also accept his imperative to go.

What role will you and your church play in coming and going to reach the unreached? Will you pray? Will you send? Will you give? Will you go?

Lord, please send more laborers into your harvest fields (Matthew 9:38).

You Can Help Reach the Unreached With the Gospel

We at ABWE believe that God is raising up a new generation to go to some of the farthest frontiers of missions. Recognizing that time is short, and eternity matters, we've launched the Open Initiative to send 7 teams to 7 unreached people groups in the next 7 years. Explore how you can join us through prayer, sending, supporting, or going.

About the Author

Bobby Hile is ABWE’s Director of Long-Term Mobilization. Prior to that, he served for 9 years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.

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