Saving souls in the Wesleyan Spirit

Saving souls in the Wesleyan Spirit
Thailand–1st Missions Conference 2022: New Appointment Holders

Habakkuk’s prophetic message in Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”, continually challenges us to mobilise God’s people to reach out to the vast number of people who have never heard the gospel.

It is estimated that out of 17,429 people groups in the world, 7,416 or 42.5% of them are unreached.1 Methodist Missions Society (MMS) avows to fulfil Christ’s mandate to preach the gospel to all the world. We are familiar with John Wesley’s instruction to his preachers that they had “nothing to do but save souls”. However, to Wesley, “saving souls” meant more than simply helping others to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour, but also to help them in their spiritual growth.

In his article, “John Wesley on Evangelism and the Pursuit of Justice”,2 David N. Field says that “[the] starting point for understanding a Wesleyan perspective on salvation is that God, who is love, created human beings in God’s own moral image of love. When Wesley wished to describe love for our fellow human beings, he referred to the Golden Rule of ‘doing unto others as you would have them do to yourself’, which is expressed in the triad of ‘justice, mercy and truth’.

Nepal - 14th Annual Meeting 2022
Nepal–14th Annual Meeting 2022

God’s intention for humanity, Wesley said, was devastated by sin. Instead of loving God and their fellow human beings, human beings turned away from God and centred their lives on themselves, resulting in the abuse, misuse, exploitation, and even destruction, of other human beings. Salvation is therefore the process by which God restores the image of God in human beings by drawing them into a relationship with himself by the Spirit, enabling and empowering them to live lives characterised by justice, mercy and truth. It begins before we are even conscious of it through what Wesley referred to as “prevenient grace”.3

Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace are the three key distinctives of Wesley’s theology. Each type of grace is important for our salvation and spiritual growth. Briefly, prevenient grace is the grace that God gives us to enable us to respond to the gospel. It is also known as “enabling grace” because by it, we have the power to do things we could not do on our own. Justifying grace is the grace that forgives our sins and makes us right with God, while sanctifying grace is the grace that transforms and enables us to live holy lives.”4

With the Wesleyan perspective on salvation in mind, we praise God that for 30 years, he has enabled MMS to engage in church planting and community development in seven countries. We are glad to share a brief update on our Mission’s work:

  • Cambodia – 4th Provisional Annual Conference with MMS as one of the five agencies that planted nine churches and eight preaching points
  • Thailand – 1st Missions Conference with 17 churches and 10 preaching points
  • Nepal – 14th Annual Meeting with seven churches, five preaching points and six outreach points
  • Vietnam – Establishment of an International Christian Fellowship
Cambodia - 4th Provisional Annual Conference 2022
Cambodia–4th Provisional Annual Conference 2022

With your prayers and contributions, we support five schools and two Bible schools reaching out to almost 3,000 children (both residential and non-residential). In these initiatives, we continue to focus on the overarching principles of building human capacity and developing national leaders to ensure sustainability in the longer term.

In 2023, may the Lord deepen our love for him and his creation, and inspire us, individually and collectively, to act on the urgency of sharing the Good News to the nations and helping believers to grow, that we might witness the fulfilment of Habakkuk’s vision in our generation!

1 https://joshuaproject.net/ retrieved on 18 Dec 2022

2 https://theologyeverywhere.org/2022/02/28/you-have-nothing-to-do-but-save-souls-john-wesley-on-evangelism-and-the-pursuit-of-justice/

3 Ibid.

4 https://medium.com/mere-christianity/what-john-wesley-meant-by-grace-the-different-types-of-grace-explained-bbb9cdd09a56

Rev Derrick Lau is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society (MMS). / Photos courtesy of MMS