The role of the prophetic in missions is very important. Many years ago, a group of missionaries went to a village in parts of Nigeria to preach the gospel. Unfortunately, they were hindered by residents who pursued them with machetes out of the village and brutally killed some of them.
I got news about the incident when my pastor stormed onto the pulpit in a night vigil with tears in his eyes, with a loud voice pleading we should pray for the family of the bereaved. Moreover, we should pray for vengeance of God against the village. Hearing vengeance, at first I resisted praying as such recalling “pray for your enemies” bible verse. But when he expounded on how an innocent person’s body was brutally butchered to the point of death. I had no choice but to pray. A vigil meant for personal prayers turned to prayers for the bereaved.
Missions are all about obedience to the commandments of Christ- “go into the world and preach the gospel”. Missions enacts the kingdom of God in a place. It’s fulfilment brings about transformed minds, transformed societies, transformed economy and a transformed nation. Successful missions by preaching the gospel have helped built free schools in poverty depraved areas of the world, which in turn have contributed positively to economies.
Replaying the tragic scene in my mind allowed me the difference between missions as result of good intentions and prophetic insights. There is nothing bad in good intentions but it does not always reflects the mind of God. It can lead to fruitless efforts, because God is not involved.
A prophetic insights reveals the mind of God about a mission. Tells us what will be. Can reveal the spiritual topography of the mission station and provide prophetic solutions. More importantly we have sufficient knowledge which helps us contain our burning zeal. Otherwise, it will be false zeal.
A mission station can be compared to a maze, without clarity of the way (prophetic insights) we will collide with walls and offend. Prophetic insights will save us from tragic scenarios and help us navigate life easily.
I think we disregard prophetic insights when it comes to missions because we be-little what mission is to charitable deeds or we are consumed by a burning zeal which may not necessarily imply the will of God. Mission is warfare – contending with spiritual forces, eradication of parts of established cultural norms and establishment of the kingdom of God. Mission is a sensitive task and should be taken seriously. Even a little setup of evangelical activity within a town centre should not be taken with levity. Be sober, be vigilant ….the enemy is looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Typical examples of prophetic insights are the multiple revelations about Paul’s arrest at Jerusalem (Acts 21 ), the redirection of the disciples by the spirit from Asia (Acts 16:6) , the prophetic dream that called Paul into Macedonia (Acts 16:9) and the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). These are all justifications that good intentions is not all there is to missions but when good intentions is supplemented with prophetic insights it becomes a success.
Christ relates with our weaknesses. He was of a burning zeal with good intentions and lack of prophetic insights in some cases. He recounted fruitless efforts (Matthew 11:21-24). If they were due to prophetic insights he would know better to go into places to be fruitful.
The role of the prophetic is crucial in kingdom building primarily because it is foretelling. Oftentimes, one of the many features that separates the prophetic from other offices is that what someone can pray for months before getting revelations, the prophetic can get within minutes. Trying to gain access to spiritual top-level information such as the spiritual topography of a place belongs to the prophetic office and therefore may take time to be unravelled to the non-prophetic. Therefore, I think it is probable that the prophetic is always involved in missions just as the way kings in the Bible will inquire from prophets about warfare.
Persecution is not negligible for a Christian especially in missions. It should not be taken as a sign of mission failure but it can be prevented or reduced by prophetic insights.
If we therefore live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.
Is the lord saying you should go on that mission or evangelical assignment, or you are just moved by your zeal and good intentions? Seek the prophetic!!