HM: How can we develop the same kind of passion?
PH: You won't get a fire and passion for God's kingdom by sitting around waiting for it. If you start preaching the gospel around your own country, proclaiming the truth, you too will soon experience real persecution. Passion for Christ comes to those who have taken up the cross and followed Him. The Bible promises that those who live a Godly life for Christ Jesus will be persecuted. It doesn’t say in one particular country or time. So if we’re not persecuted we have to ask are we really living a Godly life in Christ Jesus? Are we really preaching the Gospel? I believe that in England if you really started preaching the Gospel, you would get persecuted pretty quickly. That’s the difference. Conversely in China, the believers don't necessarily have to experience persecution – it’s a choice. If they want to, they could just relax, go to a government church and have no persecution. They would probably still go to heaven. The Chinese housechurch Christians are persecuted by choice. They choose to be persecuted because they wake up every morning and decide to carry the cross and take the hard road and not sit back, relax and take it easy. There are millions in China who have no persecution but there are millions more who choose to preach the gospel zealously and obey the Great Commission and they are hunted like animals. You too, regardless of where you live, also face a daily choice of whether you will live as God commands, or whether you will take it easy and accept the status quo.
HM: In view of the Great Commission, what must the western church do to make a bigger impact on the mission field? Should we send more missionaries, what kind of numbers would it need in order to bring completion?
PH: Basically it’s not about numbers. It’s about each individual follower of Christ doing what God has told them to do. The Bible says that all believers are to go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. That doesn’t just mean a certain ethnic group has to go or Christians have to go from a certain country. It means that all believers have to obey and follow him. Wherever that is, whether it’s Scotland, London or Siberia. It depends where God sends you. If you go where He is not sending you – you won’t be very effective. The bigger problem is that believers need to follow Christ and hear His voice. In Isaiah 30:21 it says ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” That is the key. It is not about us asking ‘do we need to send 500,000 missionaries in the next 20 years’. It is about you following Jesus with all your heart and are you doing what He told you to do? If you focus too much on the big picture then you lose sight of the small picture. I get asked all the time, should I go here or should I go there, would I be more effective if I went to China? I can’t answer, because I’m not God. Every Christian has to find out from God what He wants them to do. Some people get frustrated because it is sometimes easier to ask another person than to seek the Lord for His will and direction. Each Christian has to go where God is telling them to go. You see it with the Apostle Paul in Acts. He didn’t just make his own schedule; the Holy Spirit directed him. Conversely, it doesn’t mean we just sit in our home waiting for some great spiritual revelation to drop on you. I knew an Australian Christian who always made hints that he wanted to be involved in missions, but he never went anywhere. One day he went in his bedroom, locked the door and prayed and said ‘God if you want me to be a missionary overseas then turn the light on and then I will know it’s a sign’. Nothing happened and he was much happier because he didn’t have to go anywhere!
Does your life belong to you or does it belong to God? Is He the boss or are you the boss? Unfortunately most Christians, if the truth be told, are the boss of their own lives. We have our own desires, plans and money-making schemes – and God is a secondary part of that. Lots of people pray ‘these are my plans, please bless them’ instead of ‘show me your will and I’m willing to go anywhere and do anything’. If we pray that prayer then God knows if we really mean it or not. If He sees you do, then look out, you’ll be going somewhere soon and usually amazing things happen. Go, and God will show you where to go and what to do. It’s an imperative command. Not a request or an idea – it’s a command. So every person, including everyone who reads this article, will be judged on whether we obeyed the command or not.