I still cherish my 12-month Air Force assignment at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand because it was rewarding to be part of the support for real wartime operations. In addition to our assigned mission, our base was frequently involved with the search and recovery (SAR) efforts for downed pilots flying out of our base and others pilots flying aircraft from other bases in Vietnam, Thailand, and possibly Navy pilots flying sorties from their ships. Once the alarm was sounded that an aircraft was down our commander made it clear that every assigned aircraft, piece of equipment and person were available for the SAR. Although only a small group of base personnel were directly involved in the recovery effort, the base did not rest until the complete rescue of the downed pilot from danger along with the necessary medical help was given.
The SAR programs around the world have a direct correlation with the primary function of the church which is to be actively reaching people for the Lord Jesus Christ. A couple centuries ago, the great Hymn Writer, Fanny Crosby, wrote “Rescue the Perishing” which describes perfectly the Christian Search and Rescue instructions, The first verse reads, “Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep over the erring one, lift up the failing, Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.” The emphasis must be that people are dying without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. If so, their fate is eternal death separated from God in a place we call hell.
When is the last time you heard this song in your church? If you could answer my question, you would probably say, I can’t remember, or never. “Evangelism” is not a popular subject in church life today. That is one of the reasons the church is in withdrawal mode, thereby ignoring God’s Word to go and tell
Jesus’ final plea, what I call the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying ‘All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (By the way I learned from another writer that the Baptist has been given credit for calling these words of Jesus, “The Great Commission.”)
I hope that all churches realize that what Jesus commands here is the most important function of the church and we commonly call it “Evangelism.” Jesus tells us “For the Son of Man (Jesus) has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, NKJV). He wants us to join Him in this death or life mission. We are to tell everyone Jesus Christ is God while emphasizing the words of Peter “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV). This being true it is time that all churches of all Christian denominations go and tell the world that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man comes to Him by any other means.