Contributed by Bramuel Musya, Founder & CEO of Straight Path Resources
In the summer of 2012 we gathered in the prayer room of the headquarters of LIFE International at 72 Ransom Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a true representation of the body of Christ—with people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
After lengthy conversations, extensive scriptural study, and much prayer, the event concluded in the creation of a new commitment in the evangelical movement regarding the sanctity of human life. This 72 Ransom Avenue Covenant encompasses some bold and audacious declarations with undeniable effects on our view of the Great Commission.
One of the included declarations states that, “We believe that the sanctity of human life message is inseparable from Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations.”
With a shaking on my hand, I penned my signature on the covenant, and my eyes remained fixed on that statement. What if every Christian leader believed this statement to be true? What would be the implication of these words on our view of the Great Commission?
Over these intervening years, as I have continued on my spiritual journey and I as have pressed forward in providing leadership to our ministry in Africa, it has become evident that if we are serious about our commitment to the Great Commission, then the declarations of the Covenant are not a choice; they are a requirement.
God created mankind in His image and placed a greater value on him over all of His other creation. Throughout scripture, God goes through a great deal of trouble right from the garden in Genesis in order to bring man closer to Himself. After the fall, it would cost God everything—His only son—for Him to fulfill the salvation of His beloved mankind. Again and again, we see great value placed on humanity by the creator God in ways unmatched.
For us to demonstrate a commitment to the command of making disciples of all nations, we must first move out of our comfort zones to love the unloved. This Kingdom work is a journey. The movement on this journey can only be fueled by such love that demonstrates a God-sized value placed on human beings the world over.
If we reject the Biblical worldview of life, we become the enemy’s tools for his mission of dehumanization and devaluation of life. Once this dynamic is at play in our lives, it informs our culture and we become selective in our application of the Great Commission.
In a world filled with stereotyping, racial profiling, religious hate, and many other divisive attributes, our hope remains only in emulating the character of a loving creator God who looked at human life unconditionally and said, “It is very good.”
At a gathering of Christian leaders in Kenya, I told the story in Acts 1, where Jesus says to His disciples, “you will be witnesses to me, both in Jerusalem, Judea and in Samaria, and to the uttermost ends of the earth.” Noting that these disciples were Jews familiar with Jerusalem and Judea, we concluded that Samaria would be harder for them to go. Distance, culture, and particularly their perspective of Samaritans, would make it difficult for these disciples to respond to the command to make disciples in Samaria. So I asked the people in Kenya, “What is your Samaria?” One pastor said, “I told the Lord long ago that I would be willing to go anywhere for Great Commission work as long as it was not in Somalia.” One after another, these leaders began to mention people groups, tribes, and communities they would like to avoid because of their negative perceptions. It was sad, but it made me realize that this is the truth of what happens in the hearts of many Christian leaders.
Since signing the covenant I have developed a few simple questions to challenge me every day:
How will they know our Heavenly Father's love for them unless they hear?
How will they hear unless we tell them?
How will we tell them unless we love them?
The 72 Ransom Avenue Covenant continues to challenge me daily to evaluate my commitment to this Great Command of our Lord to make disciples of all nations, for indeed the message of the sanctity of human life cannot be separated from this assignment.
What if we all lived according to this charter that declares that, “We believe that Satan’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy God’s image at every opportunity. Jesus came to bring abundant life to all mankind, so as His followers, we must be life-giving to a deeply broken and sinful world?" The Great Commission would be at work daily in the lives of each one of us.