Through NAB International Missions, we seek to extend the Kingdom of God through the proclamation of the Gospel and the inbreaking of the Kingdom. When this is carried out, people’s lives are changed forever and injustices are addressed. This is evident from an update I recently received from one of our national mission partners who is a member of a least-reached people group on the border of Cameroon and Nigeria. Because of the constant threat of persecution from former friends and family, I will call him “Al” to protect his anonymity. Here is an extended, edited quote from his update:
[The] majority of the women, especially in this part of the world and in particular [the women from our people group], do not know their fundamental human rights, and as a result they are being left behind in almost every aspect of life. . . . They as believers are really thankful to God for the gift of salvation. They said, today, if not because of the salvation they have, they could not have had the opportunity to gather and discuss some of the challenges women face in [our] society. [Regarding] girl education and women empowerment, this is one of the difficult topics or matters to be addressed in short term. However, they will not relent until they overcome, no matter how long it might take them. They observed one of the things that is also affecting girl child education is most parents could not afford to get all that are required to make girls feel comfortable in the learning environment, such as pads when they are observing the menstrual cycle and the like. . . . That from now on they will make contributions among themselves every week for this course to ensure that they give their children all the best in life. They also agreed that they should be one another keepers; they will train and upbring their children in a godly way.
This is the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God! For over a century, the NAB as a conference of churches has recognized that the proclamation of the Gospel and the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God around the world includes overcoming injustice and establishing righteousness. Overcoming injustice for women or minorities by providing education or providing medical care is not an attempt to open a door for proclamation; it is proclamation. It is not a precursor to the inbreaking of the Kingdom; it is part of the inbreaking of the Kingdom!
My experience directing international missions for the NAB is that for the most part we continue to realize this truth, and we certainly continue to live it out with our national partners, as Al’s update reveals. In other words, across the ocean our vision is clear regarding justice and righteousness with respect to the inbreaking of the Kingdom, but at times, I fear that my vision regarding this truth is not as clear across the street. Too often I am blinded to the injustices and inequalities in my own country, my own state, my own city, my own street.
I can’t say what this is to look like in your city, town, or rural community, but I do believe the call to root out injustice and care for the oppressed is universal for the Christian! The fight against injustice and the care of the oppressed, whether across the ocean or across the tracks, is the measure of pure religion – not our worship service on Sunday but our service to the least of these daily, that is an act of true worship to the King. May his Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
For more information about the NAB ministry to the least reached people group mentioned in this article or our NAB missionaries supporting this ministry in Cameroon and Nigeria, please reach out to Kerry Bender, vice president of International Missions for the NAB. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.