This update is related to the Global Pastors Book Sets campaign.
Missionaries to the Ends of the Earth
William Carey. Hudson Taylor. Adoniram Judson. David Brainerd. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. This list just begins to name the countless missionaries who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel. How would it be possible to choose the most effective missionary?
Aside from this, most effective is quite subjective. Your opinion may well differ from others for any number of reasons. What is more widely agreed upon, though, is that effective missionaries reach into homes and hearts with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, sometimes, this can be done through a “missionary” who isn’t actually a person. This “missionary” sits on the shelf of nearly every home in the United States: the printed book.
Missionaries are men and women called to share the gospel to the ends of the earth. Their ministry as missionaries is vital to the Great Commission. In fact, printed resources would often never arrive in the hands of their recipients without a missionary bringing them. But a book fits into the bag of a traveler, slips into a small package, hides under a pillow, sneaks past border patrol, and sits in the hands of someone who may hear the good news of Jesus Christ for the first time as a result. And, though a person may go home or to a different place to share the gospel, the book remains and can be passed along through an entire home or village. Thus, the printed book could arguably be the most effective “missionary” since the Gutenberg Press was invented in 1440.
Three specific printed books have recently been making their way into the hands of pastors scattered across the 7,100 islands that make up the country of the Philippines. These books, by God’s grace, are helping to lead churches and make disciples in ways that donors to Crossway have provided, even though they may never have visited these places.
The Philippines boasts the second largest Christian population in Asia, but that doesn’t directly correlate to the Bibles that are available, either in print or online.1 Jether, a Filipino student ministering to young people in the southern part of the Philippines, recently received an ESV Global Study Bible: “I read only the Global Study Bible now because it has so many footnotes, glossaries, and facts, and the commentary is new to me because my old Bible is the King James Version. The grammar is very hard to understand.” Though a teacher can’t be with Jether at all times as he’s studying the Bible, the additional commentary included in the Global Study Bible has helped him to more accurately understand what he’s reading so that he might share it with the students he’s discipling.
Franco Ferrer, another pastor and founder of iDISCIPLE Philippines, also sees this in his preaching workshops. And though he cannot stay after the workshops to walk side by side with all of those he teaches, “we can teach these workshops . . . in the city or rural areas, especially among those in unreached areas. . . . Once they use this Bible, we see the power of God’s Word transforming their minds and see that they can preach because the Word of God is available in their hands.” The Bibles and these training sessions go on not just to serve the pastor: “These trainings also strengthen the men and women who are part of the pastor’s church. If each week they are trained to look into the Word by a pastor who has been trained to faithfully unpack it, we are prayerful that we’ll see healthy, sound, local churches all over the Philippines.”
God’s Word, in printed form, is a “missionary” to believers and nonbelievers in local churches throughout the Philippines, and by God’s grace more people are coming to know him!
2. The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper
I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the linchpin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach. Our people need to hear God-entranced preaching. They need someone, at least once a week, to lift up his voice and magnify the supremacy of God. They need to see the whole panorama of his excellencies.2
After declaring this thesis statement at the beginning of The Supremacy of God in Preaching, John Piper maintains that “God himself is the necessary subject matter of our preaching.”3 Many of us are blessed to have pastors who study God’s Word and teach their congregations from it. But for those pastors who haven’t received much, if any, training in how to do this well, they are left to their own means and interpretations from which to teach their congregations. Sometimes, these interpretations may be accurate. But more often than not, though well intentioned, they’re off the mark.
Allen is one of these pastors whose only training to become a pastor came from his own church experiences. “I’ve been in church ministry for a very long time, but that ministry was charismatic, meaning that every preaching was Spirit-led preaching. The pastor didn’t have to do anything to prepare. [Because of the training I’ve received,] I’m now doing expository preaching.”
Some of Allen’s training also included a preaching workshop with iDISCIPLE Philippines. At the end of the workshop, he and the other attendees were given The Supremacy of God in Preaching as a way to continue to learn and grow in what they had just been taught. Even though the training ended months ago, Allen explained that this book has continued to provide him with helpful guidance as he prepares to preach on Sunday mornings.
One of the best parts of this book is that it teaches the reader to understand that the grounds of preaching are always the cross of Christ. The gift of preaching is, of course, the work of the Holy Spirit. And the goal of preaching is always about the glory of God. So through this book, I have come to better understand that preaching is a Trinitarian work. It’s a work of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
By the power of the Spirit working through the “missionary” of The Supremacy of God in Preaching, Allen has planted a church in Manila where he has been pastoring for nearly three years. This book has reached into Allen’s heart as he preaches with conviction and, as a result, into the hearts of those who are receiving the fruit of his labor.
3. The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju
“Before reading [The Pastor and Counseling], I really did not think much about counseling. I thought it was one of the least important ministries of the pastor until I read this book and it really changed my view and my approach in ministry.” Keano, a pastor of a church in Bacolod City, reflects this common perception felt by many pastors. Counseling requires honesty, vulnerability, and oftentimes many questions that don’t seem to have answers. And yet, as Keano realized, it is actually one of the most important roles of a pastor.
To be honest, I was afraid of doing counseling because I didn’t know how. As much as possible, I tried to avoid it. Now, I can say that I welcome it every time someone asks. It’s still challenging, but now I’m more capable of handling counseling sessions. It opened my mind to the reality that every member needs to be counseled or pursued for many different reasons, because it’s part of nurturing, training, and discipling them to grow in the knowledge of the Lord. If preaching is public nurturing, then counseling is private nurturing.
Through this “missionary,” the gospel is being preached in discipleship settings and truth is proclaimed.
The Impact of Books on Mission
Each of these three resources, along with many others, has been freely provided through the Crossway Global Ministry Fund as part of Global Pastors Book Sets to pastors and ministry leaders throughout the Philippines and the Global South. These are given with the hope and confidence that they will serve as “missionaries” to those who you and I may not otherwise ever have the opportunity to encourage.
Would you consider partnering with Crossway to provide more of these “missionaries” in places around the world where the gospel is needed most?
- Zurlo, Gina A. 2022. Global Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic), 234.
- Piper, John. 2015. The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 19.