Evangelism: The foundation of missions
Dr. Stanley Ling shares his thoughts on evangelism and its role in mission work.

By Dr. Stanley Ling, East Asia Office in East Asia

Evangelism: The foundation of missions

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

Central to the Great Commission is "making disciples of all nations." Fundamental to this disciple-making effort is evangelism ⁠— the proclamation of the good news (in Greek is euaggelion) of Jesus Christ by word and deed. It's the starting point of making someone a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our life testimony and words we share the good news, and those who believe are reconciled to the Creator God. A new relationship can then begin with the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, evangelism should be the foundation of missions, with the good news conveyed and expressed in a culturally acceptable and understandable way. There are times when missionaries are so engrossed with doing missions ⁠— meeting the tangible needs of people ⁠— that they forget to proclaim the good news.

While proclamation through deeds is needed, proclamation by words and leading them towards the cross and confession must not be neglected.

The advice from Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2 should be our motto: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

It is only when we persistently preach the Word of God that we can challenge the status quo of a person’s relationship with God and people. Evangelism is the foundation of missions.

Churches in Asia are generally serious about evangelism. This partly explains the rapid growth of the Church here. When a church lifts up Jesus and the gospel takes the centre stage of church life, people will be attracted to it. For it is our Saviour and Lord who attracts people to the church, not good programmes and activities.

In 1978, the churches in Singapore held a large evangelistic rally at the National Stadium. Some 337,000 people attended over five nights. The speaker was Billy Graham. Forty years on, the churches in Singapore are organising a similar event to reach out to the many unreached people here with the good news of Jesus Christ. It is encouraging to see how churches in Singapore are coming together in unity to work as one body for this significant event.

SIM, as part of the Christian community, is praying for this evangelistic rally and working together with the churches in various ways. Join with us to pray, engage and gather those who have not yet heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the statements that Billy Graham made forty years ago continues to inspire Christians in Singapore. He called on Singapore to become the "Antioch of Asia." As a Singaporean, I felt flattered by his statement. But on a serious note, I feel that Singapore churches should indeed pray that we can become one of the many "Antiochs of Asia" and continue to send missionaries into cross-cultural settings to bring the gospel and love of God to the people who need it most.