Dr. Richard Bernal of Jubilee Christian Center shared a simple but powerful truth with the delegates who attended the Effective Missions elective, where they learned that being effective is going where God has sent you. This was no lesson on organization, crossing national boundaries or running mega-crusades but rather, a wise word in season from an experienced minister to a younger generation of believers eager to serve God in the mission field.
Beginning with a quick survey of the different nationalities represented in the room, Bernal opened the session with the first verse, 2 Peter 1:10, relating how Peter exhorted the believers to make their call and election sure. This formed the cornerstone of Bernal’s message—that effective ministry and missions is all about understanding and walking in God’s calling and leading. He elucidated this point by making reference to the Great Commission and the actual mission work carried out by the apostles. Jesus’ last words prior to His ascension were His instructions to the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Yet in the book of Acts, Paul found himself forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word in Asia.
Bernal explained that while the Body of Christ is called to all the world, believers are individually each called to specific places. Bernal shared his belief of how he would not be able to duplicate the success of his ministry outside of San Jose, California, because that was the place that God has specifically called him to.
Bernal regaled everyone with the story of his first crusade in Gutour, India, where by accident, he found himself entirely unprepared to preach to a crowd of unbelievers numbering thousands. The hilarity of his inexperience and the circumstances leading to near-disaster served to underscore the miracle which God performed as he eventually preached and performed healings and deliverances under the power of God.
The crucial lesson Bernal learned from this experience was to be sensitive to the leading and anointing of God under varying circumstances, to preach or to heal, ultimately trusting the Holy Spirit to show up. Bernal also shared about a minister he knew who left his own flock of 5,000 members to attempt to plant churches in other places. This minister encountered frustration and unfruitfulness as a result. It was the same person with the same talent—but the ineffectiveness lay in the basic fact that ministry and church planting are not acts of franchising. Rather, they have everything to do with the specific call of God.
Sharing from 2 Corinthians 10:13-16, Bernal showed how even the great Apostle Paul understood the boundaries of the sphere in which God had appointed him, fully aware of his call and ministry to the Gentiles.
Finally, Bernal posed a question to all the delegates, asking them if they were a “king” or a “priest,” a trick question with reference to the knowledge that believers are called to be both—as royal priesthood. He posed the question once again, asking the delegates if they were a priest-king or a king-priest before explaining from Revelations 1:4-6 about the different primary roles to which believers are called.
The believer called to be a king-priest would be someone primarily called to serve and shine in the marketplace, who still performs priestly duties by serving in a church. The converse is true with the believer who is a priest-king. With this, Bernal stressed how service in the marketplace and service in the ministry are not mutually exclusive. Receiving salvation in Christ does not automatically mean that one is called to serve the ministry in a full time capacity. This would also mean that one should never despise the calling of God to a secular vocation as it does not indicate a lesser degree of personal spirituality.
For Bernal, effectiveness in missions and ministry begin even before serving. It begins with the believer’s surety of his/her call and election in Christ.
Other Effective Missions elective sessions featured Dr. David Sumrall, Bobby Chaw and George Ong.