Editorial (April 2018)
编者语(四月刊)

by Dr Stanley Ling
(Regional Director, SIM East Asia)

林厚彰博士(东亚区总主任)

The 125 years of history in SIM testifies to the reality of “strive and thrive” in missions. The birth of SIM was particularly trying as two out of the three founders died from malaria within a year of entering the interiors of Nigeria. Many would have thought the endeavour was doomed to failure right from the start. The sole survivor of the 3-man team, Bingham, was striving to initiate the mission work. Though he did start a mission station by the eighth year, he was by no means thriving, as there were many challenges that threatened to shut down even the very first mission station. As the team continued to strive and trust God, the mission managed to make some breakthroughs after 14 years of struggling and hard work.

Striving carries the picture of someone struggling and working hard to make something work or happen. Thriving, on the other hand, shows that one is doing well and marching onwards to success.

It is often said that in God’s work, we do not need to strive too hard because He is in control of all things. But if we look at examples in the Bible, individuals like the Apostle Paul or the prophets in the Old Testament, and even our Lord Jesus Christ, we would be surprised to see how diligent, persevering and long-suffering they were in carrying out their mission. How then shall we as missionaries look upon “striving and thriving”?

In Martin Luther’s “Theology of the Cross”, he discovered that God often speaks through paradoxes. “He makes something out of nothing, He wins by losing. He lifts us up by bringing us low. He turns Good Friday into Easter Sunday. He works opposite to the way humanity logically expects an omnipotent God to work.” (note 1)

Indeed, it is when we struggle and strive that we realise how weak and incapable we are, it is only then we turn our eyes to our God and Master. He will then make us thrive. 2 Cor 12:9-11 says: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The paradox of “when I am weak, then I am strong” is something that God had taught SIMers over the last 125 years.
We need to do our part. W e need to strive and struggle. We need to be diligent in proclaiming the Gospel and blessing the people with kind deeds. In the process, we realise how weak we are. We then experience the grace of God making us strong when he comes alongside to help us thrive.

There are many testimonies of how God helped us when we were helpless and in dire straits. We strived, and then we thrived, all because of the risen Lord who promised “and surely, I will be with you till the end of the age.”

May I encourage all of us not to become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)

Note 1: 10 Great Ideas from Church History by Mark Shaw, IVP Books, 1997, pg23

SIM国际事工差会一百二十五年的历史,证明了在宣教中『竭力服侍与蓬勃昌盛』的真实性。SIM的诞生可说经历了许多波折,当年在尼日利亚,我们三位创办人中有两人相继在一年内死于疟疾;许多人认为这个努力从一开始就注定要失败,但是这三人团队中唯一的幸存者宾罕,却继续努力地开拓这项神圣的任务。虽然他在第八年就设立了一个福音站,但并不是很成功,面临着许多挑战甚至可能被迫要关闭第一个福音站。宾罕和团队继续努力并相信上帝,经过了十四年的艰苦奋斗后,这个宣教任务终于取得了一些重大的突破。

说到『竭力服侍』,就像描绘了一个人正在挣扎和努力地想要完成某些工作或成就某些可能行的画面;而另一边,当我们提到『蓬勃昌盛』时,则展示了一个人做得非常好,正昂头向前迈进、走向成功的景象。

人们常说,在做上帝的工作时我们不需要太过努力,因为祂掌控一切。但如果我们看看圣经中的例子,比如使徒保罗或旧约里的先知,甚至我们的主耶稣基督,我们会惊讶地看到他们在履行使命时是多么的勤奋、忠诚和热情。那么,作为宣教士,我们该如何看待『竭力服侍与蓬勃昌盛』呢?

在马丁路德的『十架之神学与悖论』中,他发现上帝常常通过悖论来说话。“祂从无到有,祂输了就是赢了;祂降我们为卑,为的是将我们升为高;祂把受难日转化为复活节;祂的工作方式与人类逻辑上期望之无所不能的上帝的工作方式是相反的。”(注1)

事实上,当我们在竭力奋斗之时,才能意识到自己有多么的软弱和无力,因此我们才懂得把目光转向上帝,然后祂就使我们蓬勃昌盛。哥林多后书12:9-10说:“‘我的恩典够你用的,因为我的能力是在人的软弱上显得完全’。所以,我更喜欢夸自己的软弱,好叫基督的能力覆庇我。我为基督的缘故,就以软弱、凌辱、急难、逼迫、困苦为可喜乐的,因我什么时候软弱,什么时候就刚强了。”

“我什么时候软弱,什么时候就刚强了”,这番悖论正是上帝在一百二十五年来教导SIM所有人的功课。我们需要尽我们自己的那份责任、我们需要竭力奋斗、我们需要勤于宣讲福音,并以善行祝福人们。在这个过程中,我们会意识到自己有多软弱,然后,在上帝与我们同行并帮助我们时,我们才能体验到上帝使我们变得刚强的恩典。

关于上帝如何在我们无助和陷入困境时帮助我们的见证可说是数之不尽!我们竭力服侍,但之后我们蓬勃昌盛,所有这些都是因为复活的主保证了:“我就常与你们同在,直到世界的末了。”

在此,我要鼓励你和我“行善,不可丧志;若不灰心,到了时候就要收成。(加拉太书6:9)”

注1:『10 Great Ideas from Church History』萧马可著,1997年IVP Books出版,第23页。

SIM East Asia