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Blog: Engaging through Witnessing: the Vision Factor

The acronym VISION:

V –   Validate History and Creativity
I –    Inspire through Stories
S –   Seek God’s Guidance in Prayer
I –    Instill Ideation/ Brainstorming
O –  Open to Try New Ministry  
N –  Nurture a Robust Networking

“Expect great things from
God and attempt great things for God” William Carey

Under the leadership of our district President Bill Harmon, we currently adapted a strategic path to our collective ministry to equip God’s people  through the heart of rejoicing, engagement, encouragement and service, using the engagement model.

We will focus on the notion of “engage” in this blog and unpack briefly the biblical and contextual applications in light of our everyday witness to the gospel.

Witness engagement begins with perspectives that shed light to what the Lord is doing and about to do in and through our lives.

Biblical envisioning involves embracing God’s larger view and calling in our lives, experiencing it deeply, and taking necessary actions. The significance of this spiritual envisioning, drawn from Biblical perspectives, offers practical lessons for individuals, churches, and the broader work of the Lord’s kingdom.

William Carey, a missionary to India, exemplified this envisioning. His achievements included translating the Bible into more than 41 languages and leading significant social reforms. He established universities, Bible colleges, and the first printing press for the people he served, leading many to Christ and nurturing future church leaders. His life was guided by his motto, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God,” earning him the title of the father of modern missions.

Our spiritual insights leverage a deeper understanding of the world around us. The Scripture says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6). God’s true vision for our life besides shedding light on realities around us, it also integrates and regulates our purpose in life. God’s work is so dynamic that it activates our sense of vision to accomplish his will. David said, “in your light we see the light.” (Ps. 36:9)

Our faith fathers had their sense of vision actively operating. God has seen greater things for them, and they were willing to stretch themselves to walk into it by faith. So he was not indeed ashamed to be called their God. Our faith actively uses our faculty of imagination to engage the Lord’s lead in the world.

God’s presence, manifesting on Sinai, transformed Moses and guided the Israelites through the wilderness, with the intent to spread His holy purpose among nations. However, Moses’s inability to sustain the reflection of God’s radiance led him to wear a veil, creating a barrier to sharing this light. This led to the Israelites’ prolonged wandering, as they lacked the necessary knowledge.

The New Testament brings the good news of Jesus, who removed the veil, providing access to heaven and enabling the spread of God’s joy among nations. As St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:16 states, turning to Christ removes the veil, allowing us to reflect God’s glory and shine it into the world. The Holy Spirit works in us, transforming us into the likeness of Christ and sculpting His mission within us.

The Gospel recounts the journey of the wise men to honor Jesus, facing challenges like an irate King Herod and apathetic religious leaders. Yet, guided by God’s light and the Star of Bethlehem, they completed their mission.

Our confidence rests on the supreme lead Star, the Son of God. Scripture declares, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). Further reinforcing this, Jesus Himself declared, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:160. We are entrusted to let this light shine through words and actions.

The prophet Isaiah declared that God will be with his people even as they went through their dark moments. He will transform their predicaments into a calling that blesses nations. “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God….” (Isaiah 43:1-12). “

Luke’s Gospel clearly depicts people yearning for the Savior who brings the day of redemption. As John the Baptist addressed this eager crowd, he directed their faith toward Jesus, the true Savior, baptizing them with water and fire. He highlighted Jesus’ humility and love as He entered the Jordan river with the people. Luke then describes how, as Jesus prayed in the Jordan, the heavens opened, and the voice of the Father, along with the Holy Spirit, descended upon Him. Jesus, through the conduit of this open heaven, intimately identified with His people, joining them in the baptismal waters and sharing His life with them. John the Baptist vividly depicted the baptismal scene as a platform for divine commissioning, a sacred space where God’s people were called to partake in His divine purpose. During Jesus’ baptism, the Father pronounced His affirmation over His Son, stating, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) Likewise, all baptized in His name are recognized as beloved children of God, united in purpose. This baptism serves as a declaration of faith and a divine call to mission, reflecting our adoption into God’s family and our shared commitment to Christ’s mission on Earth.

Similarly, Jesus extended an extraordinary invitation to Nathanael, offering him a glimpse of the heavenly call. He assured him, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that… Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:50-51) This divine revelation served as a compelling invitation, encouraging Nathanael to partake in the divine mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.

These biblical examples encapsulate the essence of envisioning God’s purpose for our lives, urging us to expect and attempt great things for and from God.

Characteristics of Biblical Vision

Revelatory Understanding

Biblical vision is a divine revelation, a foresight bestowed upon us by God to guide our paths, and consequently, the trajectory of our ministries. Missional vision goes beyond mere dreaming; it’s God’s specific and unique calling for His people. It sets the direction, providing purpose and clarity in the quest to further his kingdom.

Beyond the Horizon

Abraham in Genesis 12 left his familiar world, following God’s vision towards a land he did not know. As leaders, we must be ready to step out of our comfort zones, embracing the unfamiliar yet guided by God’s vision. Moses, in Exodus 3, is another example of someone who looked beyond the horizon. His encounter with God at the burning bush propelled him to lead the Israelites from captivity, a task that was beyond his previous understanding.

Joy Through Hope

Hope is a powerful motivator, a fuel that drives our actions. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 15:13, recognizes the joy that stems from hope, a hope that is anchored in Christ. This joy, beyond mere happiness, is a state of being that sustains us even amidst trials. The promise of a better tomorrow, a more inclusive church, and a world reflecting God’s love, infuses joy into our tasks, making the mission journey worthwhile.

Action towards Fulfillment

Nehemiah is a biblical figure who exemplifies how actions can lead to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Upon hearing of the broken walls of Jerusalem, he didn’t merely lament; he took decisive action, driven by his vision of restoration. He prayed, planned, and faced opposition courageously, reflecting how faith and action should be intertwined.

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is a conversation with God. It’s through prayer, as demonstrated in Philippians 4:6, that our anxieties are replaced with peace, and our blurred vision replaced with clarity. Prayer allows us to align our desires with God’s will, attuning us to His divine frequency and guiding us towards the realization of the vision He has set for us.

Contemplating on God’s Omnipotence

Our God is omnipotent. Understanding His limitless power, as expressed in Job 42:2 and Isaiah 40:28, can instill in us a sense of awe and unwavering faith. Trusting in God’s omnipotence assures us that He is capable of fulfilling the vision He’s set before us, no matter how insurmountable it may seem.

The Need for Courage Courage

Courage is an indispensable virtue in Christian leadership, is seen in Joshua. Commanded by God in Joshua 1:9 to be strong and courageous, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. As leaders, we are called to exhibit similar courage in our mission outreach, guided by the vision God has set for us.

Developing and Implementing

Missional envisioning requires prayerful discernment and a willingness to surrender our plans to God’s will. Once the vision is received, it should be communicated clearly, and actions should align with it. Leaders must equip their congregation to understand and follow the vision, fostering an environment where every member feels part of God’s plan for their lives.

Envisioning Process: A Step-by-Step Approach

There are various ways to engage in a witness envisioning process. A model that utilizes the concept and acronym of VISION is described below to help God’s people to take a step by step initiatives to grasp God’s specific calling in ministry and mission.

The acronym VISION:

V – Validate Legacy and Creativity
I –  Inspire through Stories
S – Seek God’s Guidance through Prayer
I – Instill Ideation and Brainstorming
O – Open to Trying New Approaches
N – Nurture a Robust Networking

This model encourages a structured yet dynamic approach to developing and implementing a vision.

1. Validate Legacy and Creativity (V): This step focuses on fostering an environment that values gratitude, discernment, and creativity in spreading the Gospel. It involves celebrating successful initiatives that have effectively brought people closer to Jesus, recognizing the importance of legacy in shaping future endeavors.

2. Inspire through Testimonies and Stories (I): Personal testimonies are a powerful tool in this process. They serve to ignite the imagination and spark curiosity about personal experiences with Christ. Sharing these stories can inspire others and provide a relatable and impactful means of witnessing.

3. Seek God’s Guidance through Prayer (S): Prayer is central to the envisioning process. It’s through prayer that congregations and individuals are encouraged to seek divine inspiration, wisdom, and creative ideas. This step underscores the importance of intentional prayer in seeking God’s direction.

4. Instill Ideation and Brainstorming (I): The focus here is on creating an environment conducive to participatory sharing and brainstorming. This approach champions the development of a shared preferred path through active engagement and the exchange of new ideas.

5. Open to Try (O): Encouraging the trial of new approaches to witnessing is key. This involves reflecting on the effectiveness of different initiatives, celebrating successes, and learning from any challenges encountered. Being open to experimentation is crucial for growth and adaptation.

6. Nurture Robust Networking and Partnership (N): The final step is to facilitate opportunities for congregations and leaders to share their experiences and ideas. This contributes to building a rich tapestry of imaginative witness efforts, underlining the importance of networking and partnerships in the envisioning process.

Together, these steps form a comprehensive approach to envisioning, guiding God’s people through a journey of discovery, innovation, and shared commitment to their ministry and mission