‘BMS: a catalyst for mission’
How can BMS World Mission be a catalyst for mission in the world – and not just a partner?
That was one of the questions posed by General Director Kang-San Tan during the BMS AGM, the last held in this format because of incorporation.
Kang-San returned to the theme he had introduced during the opening session. Taking Romans 8:17 as his text, he reminded delegates that creation is ‘groaning’, and that the church, by noticing, groans with it. When the church goes into the world, it does so inspired by the spirit – the ‘groaning spirit’ which invites us into this mission.
So what does this mean for us now? Kang-San, who grew up in a Buddhist household, reminded delegates of the challenges of Christian mission today – after 200 years of missionary work, just two-three per cent of the Islam, Buddhist and Hindu world are Christian. This is where the groaning spirit is, he explained - and God is raising African, Asian and South American mission workers.
Increasingly, Kang-San said he can see BMS becoming a ‘polycentric mission’ -- mission from everywhere, to everyone. How can BMS be a catalyst for such mission activity, and not just a partner?
Kang-San moved on to ask: how do we encounter the groaning spirit? We need sacrifice, open hearts and open churches to meet the mission needs of today, he said. Sometimes we can look for comfortable lives, but the holy spirit is leading us deeper, and when we follow, that’s when we experience it.
Kang San said that BMS participates in the groaning spirit today by working among the least evangelised, the most marginalised and the most fragile states. He spoke of his privilege and gratitude at leading an organisation that had been obedient in ‘sharing God’s love to the ends of the earth.’
He concluded by thanking supporters. ‘We can’t do this without your giving, your prayers and your surrendering of your best people, old and young.’
He had been introduced by Maureen Russell, BMS chair of trustees, who said in his short time at the organisation it had been ‘wonderful’ to see Kang-San’s ‘passion for mission, love of people, and passion to see God’s love extended.’
Earlier delegates were given an update on the progress BMS is making in its 2016-2020 mission strategy ‘One Million Lives Transformed’, introduced by Kat Wagner and Jael Darmasin (pictured below). The strategy captures a series of targets for each of BMS’s seven ministries, namely church, education, justice, development, health, leadership and relief. It was launched at the 2016 Baptist Assembly. The year two progress was shared on Saturday.
In four areas – education, development, health and leadership, it is ahead of target (in the case of the latter two it has almost reached its target following large gains in 2017). In the areas of justice and relief, BMS was on target after two years, having currently reached 25 per cent and 41 per cent of its target respectively.
The only area in which it was behind where it wanted to be was church ministry. BMS wants to reach 500,000 people over five years, and has so far reached 113,551, or 23 per cent of its target.
Treasurer Robert Ashurst also shared that BMS had made a small surplus over the last year. The was due in part to larger than expected legacies – income from churches had seen a slight decline. Longer term, this wasn’t sustainable, Robert said. He therefore asked delegates to return to their churches with these two words: gratitude and challenge.
‘We thank you for your praying, your giving, even your going, so that together we can fulfil our highest goal,’ Robert said.
The new BMS film, Life's First Cry, was launched at the Baptist Assembly. Watch below.