Sunday, May 06, 2007
Working for CMS
I've started a new job in the past few months. I now work for CMS (the Church Missionary Society). We are a para church - we exist to serve and equip God's church around the world. We have the same essence of the church in many respects - the presence of Jesus Christ in our work through the ministry of word and spirit. But we have a different purpose to church. Although our vision is very similar to the purpose of the church: Proclaiming the gospel, serving God's people around the world to see live transformed by Christ, the shape that this takes is different to the church.
CMS works to raise up missionaries, train them, and on behalf of the church, send them out to work in partnership with the local church where they are sent to either a. work in bible and theological colleges to train the next generation of church leaders; b. work in student ministry or local churches to do evangelism and equip the local Christians; and c. to work in an aid and development capacity. Presently CMS Australia employs around 160 missionaries in over 30 countries to do this work.
The most common accusation that I've come across regarding CMS is that it doesn't employ a complete approach to mission. That it focuses to much on the head and he heart aspects of mission, but minors on the hands. And yes there is grain of truth in this accusation, but I hope and believe that things are starting o change. CMS supports fair trade, has worked in and amongst the poorest and most desperate slums in Nairobi and Cairo (if you would like to watch the DVD on this, ask me and I'll send it to you). Our missionaries are working in hospitals throughout Africa and Asia, caring for people in South Africa crippled by AIDS, and the list could go on. And this is part of the CMS heritage. CMS was started as a lay, evangelical society in 1799 in a pub by the likes of Wilberforce and Newton, the men who not only ensured a Chaplain would travel to Australia on the first fleet, but spent decades fighting against the injustice of slavery in the British Empire. CMS works to make the Lordship of Jesus Christ known and real in every aspect of human life.
Last night was a moment of shame and celebration for CMS and the Church. The Kriol Baibul was launched last night in the Northern Territory, with simultaneous events here in Sydney. Kriol is a language spoken by he majority of Aboriginal people in Northern Australia - some 30,000 people. It took 27 years to complete, and is some 219 years overdue. But it is now complete, and Lord willing will strengthen our brothers and sisters in the top end in their faith and witness. This is part of what CMS is doing. If you would like to find out more, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you.