Guest Writer for This Unit: LaDonna Sanders Nkosi is Global Pastor and Missions Executive of Ubuntu Global Village Foundation, located in Rwanda, South Africa, and the USA. It builds relationships between congregations and communities across the globe for the healing of nations.
The unit you are viewing, Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad), is a compact unit. This means that it is not a complete commentary of the Scripture(s) selected for this day on the calendar, nor does it have a full, supporting cultural resource unit and worship unit. Instead, to enliven the imagination of preachers and teachers, we have provided a sermonic outline, songs, suggested books, and suggested articles, links, and videos. For additional information see Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad) in the archives of the Lectionary for 2008–2011. 2012 is the second year that the African American Lectionary has featured compact units for moments on its liturgical calendar.
I. Description of the Liturgical Moment
We are one global family. What affects us here in the U.S. affects life across the globe and what affects others outside of the U.S. affect us in the U.S. Crises, economies, and calamities in communities across the world impact our daily lives and the life of our communities. Mission Sunday is a great opportunity for the Church to call upon God through worship, prayer, and celebration to speak to us and direct our steps in participating as Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad) is a time to incorporate the voices of our global family into our worship experience, lifting the testimonies
and prayer requests of mission workers and partner churches and communities across the globe. It is also a time for us to listen for God’s direction and leading as to how we can pray, partner, serve, and act in supporting Christ’s work of Global Mission in the earth.
Gina M. Stewart wrote in 2008 for Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad) for The African American Lectionary:
Missionary Sunday (Mission Work Abroad) provides an opportunity to inspire and challenge the contemporary church to embrace a global perspective and commitment (Acts 1:8). This commitment is not just to the end of the street, the extent of our zip code, or our denominational interests. God calls us out of our church pews, and beyond our comfort zones and preoccupation with ourselves, to live under the influence of a Missionary Spirit who empowers us for effective and responsible witness in the world.
In 2009, Reverend Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers reminded us in her Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad) unit:
Theologically significant within this framework of Global Mission is Desmond Tutu’s Ubuntu Theology which makes clear that, “We are all peers, all one under Christ Jesus.”1 As such, this Sunday serves as a time to reflect and revive our resolve to engage in the Great Commission to make disciples, to reconcile others to Christ, and to do so with the knowledge and compassion that we are all connected.
Mission Sunday is an opportunity to open the doors of the Church to the wider global community. Liturgically in worship and sermon preparation, you and worship planning members can:
Utilize worship materials, African/global prayers, songs, instruments, and illustrations from specific global communities.
Engage and incorporate the voices and letters of mission workers and partner congregations and communities into your worship service.
Pray and intercede as a corporate body for global issues and communities, praying specifically for missionaries, for your congregation to support missions, and for those who have a sense of calling to global mission.
Listen for God’s direction as to how your congregation can serve as a center and catalyst to support global mission and participate in the healing of the nations.
Invite mission partner to give testimonies and engage the congregation in celebrating accomplishments and praying for the mission plans for the coming year.
With this material as our backdrop, we provide a sermonic outline for Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad).
II. Mission Sunday (Mission Work Abroad): Sermonic Outline
A. Sermonic Focus Text(s): Isaiah 49:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version)
(v. 1) Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. (v. 2) He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. (v. 3) And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (v. 4) But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” (v. 5) And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— (v. 6) he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
B. Possible Titles
i. People, Peril, Pride, and a Promise!
ii. Love Has Everything to Do with It!
iii. The Providential Power of God’s Promise
C. Point of Exegetical Inquiry
One exegetical inquiry raised by this text is the shift in voice and mood of God’s servant in the text. The text begins with a sense of urgency as God’s servant calls out to the nations, “Listen to me, O coastlands. Pay attention you people’s from far away” (v. 1). What is the impetus for this sense of urgency in the biblical world of the text and how does it relate to our context today?
The voice of God’s servant in the text is like the voice of the global missionary, the one serving from far away, calling back to her or his home nation and home community, “Help!” In a sense, it is a call for assistance, affirmation, faithful partnership. “I’m here. PLEASE do what you can from your side to aide my missionary work.”
The call of God toward mission in the earth globally and locally can seem daunting. Eradicating global poverty, global disease, global homelessness, and being partners in the earth for God’s kingdom building can also seem a never-ending task. In the text, God’s servant laments, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity” (v. 4).
Here the sense of Ubuntu, which says “I am because WE are” and “people are people through others,” is the saving grace. Ubuntu as described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “We can be human only together.”2 In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”3
God’s servant’s call for help is a call for the nations to respond to the call of God, to the home churches and faith communities to work and serve together. It reminds us that we do not have to do global missions alone in isolation.
On the mission field, serving in Durban, South Africa, I learned the power of Ubuntu at work in ministry firsthand. Ubuntu says that we are one global family and what we do and decide affects others in our community. It means that in order to address an issue or a problem, you share what you have, and as a collective we have exactly what is needed. Home churches and congregations have resources, areas of expertise, the power of prayer, and funds to share, while those working on the frontlines in mission share their gifts and talents in the global context. At the same time, serving side-by-side and in relationship with global partners in their context deepens our sense of faith in community and understanding of Christ’s reach in the world and helps us to look afresh at how we can address issues in our own U.S. and community contexts.
This sense of mutuality, interconnectedness, and partnership brings healing, light, and life on both sides of the global partnership. Our text teaches us that we do not have to do it alone; we are formed and fashioned by God with the promise of God’s protection and God’s naming us as God’s instruments in the earth for God’s glory. God says we will be “a light to the nations.”
Move/Point One – We call out to the world (vv. 1-3).
a. Isaiah called out to people from near and far. We must do the same to help those around the world who are in need.
b. God formed all servants in the womb and shaped their lives to call out to the world.
c. In our mission work abroad, we can glorify God.
Move/Point Two – Sometimes we believe that we are not up to the task.
a. Operating in isolation and seeing ourselves as our source can leave us feeling as if our labor is in vain. The needs of the poor around the world are so great and that can lead us to believe that what we do will not matter in the scheme of things. We then become hesitant to give and trust in God’s ability to provide.
b. Addressing the issues on the home-front can take precedence over global partnerships and pursuing mission efforts around the world.
c. You don’t have to do it alone. God has put inside each one of us a part of the answer to the world’s problems. As we work together, we have what is needed. Everyone has a role—the missionary, people of faith, and mission partners.
Move/Point Three – God has formed and fashioned us for these times.
a. What does it mean to be a twenty-first-century light to the nations?
b. We can engage in empowering gospel and kin<g>dom partnerships, not charity. Let our global engagement and partnership be true partnerships where all parties are empowered, uplifted, and transformed as they work together as mutual partners for kin<g>dom building in the earth.
c. What we learn from engaging in mission work abroad transforms us to do the work that is needed in our local contexts.
God has formed and fashioned us for these times. God says, “I WILL give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” You are my servant in whom I will be glorified. We are one global family; in each one of us, God has placed the answers to the world’s challenges. As we are faithful to God’s call, God gives God’s promise of protection, provision, and bringing the plan to completion. The Creator who began a good work in us WILL bring it to completion.
Ubuntu and the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes
In 2008, as I was finishing a three-month service mission in South Africa, God spoke to me and others during prayer about the children living outside in Durban. God said, “These are my children too. These are my children too.” At that time, all my money was spent, it was time to fly back home, but I kept hearing, “These are my children too. These are my children too.” I engaged in three days of prayer as I was wrapping up the mission journey at a quiet place in the city. Whenever I would step outside, I would pass rows of children sitting on the side of the road. They would sleep there at night. They had been there all the other times before, but really, I had not seen them. And I kept hearing, “These are my children too.”
In an internet café, I met a family from Rwanda who owned the internet café. As we spoke, the mother talked about feeling called to do something about the children living outside. In the same café, I met a pastor who spoke about the children living outside. I shared with him how God was speaking to me about them too saying, “These are my children too.” That pastor suggested we go to the children and ask them, “What do you need and how can we help?”
It was a revolutionary idea to just step out and ask. When we first went to the street corner where the children lived outside, many were sleeping in dirty blankets, in the middle of the day. As soon as they heard we were pastors and from the church, everyone came to attention and asked us to pray. In America, I had never had people on the street just want to pray collectively. That day we sang and sang the songs of the church at the children’s leading. When we asked them what they needed, they brainstormed many ideas—schooling, jobs, transport to go back home. But what they needed right then was food. Many had not eaten and some were not well. We agreed to come back the next day with food.
The joy I had that afternoon was great. Following God’s voice and leading brought great results. On the way back to a Rwandan family’s home to share what had happened, I began to panic. How were we going to have food for all those people the very next day? All of my funds were gone; I was on my way to fly home. I stopped by the internet café and frantically wrote e-mails back to the States: “Help!”
By the time I made it back to the Rwandan family’s home, the neighbors and everyone had gathered to hear our report about what happened when we visited the “kids on the street.” We shared the story and that we promised to bring back food the next day. Before I could say more about how I didn’t know how we were going to do it, how my funds had been depleted, etc., the Mamas were organizing the menu. Each family began to say what they would bring. I knew that they had their own economic challenges and struggles in a context of 30% unemployment. “No problem, pastor, we will be ready,” they said.
Finally, I shared that the money I had been given for the trip was gone and that I had written to churches in the States, but I wasn’t sure if support would come in time. I will never forget what Mama Vestine said to me: “Pastor, every day, we get to see God multiply. We bring what little we have to the table and God always blesses it. Like the story in the Bible of the loaves and fish. It is real for us, every day.”
The next day we loaded home-cooked curry chicken and rice into the back of a taxi and headed to the children. When we arrived, there were at least 100 children and many others waiting. That day we had prayer and sang praises to God. We had worship right there on that street corner. As more and more people came, we had exactly enough food for everyone.
That day I learned that when we bring what we have to the table, there is just enough for everyone.
I never would have been able to cook for that many people, but the Mamas cooked with great joy. The fathers organized the transportation and I did what I do best—I organized and brought people together to do the work of God. Our partner churches came through with funds to support the mission. That was in 2008. And, still today, Ubuntu Global Village Project HEAL feeds the masses and engages transformation for our children and people living on the streets of Durban, South Africa and now Rwanda.
This lesson of Ubuntu can be applied anywhere—through our global partnerships and in our own home communities.
—LaDonna Sanders Nkosi from the
Mission Field, Durban, South Africa
See the Sermon Illustrations section of the African American Lectionary for additional illustrations that you may wish to use in presenting a sermon for this moment on the liturgical calendar.
VII. Sounds, Sights, and Colors in This Passage
The sound of God’s servants calling out, summoning the nations, their home countries, and the people of God to the work of God in the earth; the sounds of God’s servants calling out for help; the sound of God’s voice intervening in the midst of struggle; and the sound of a voice as sharp as a sword;
A sharp sword; a servant in the shadow of the big hand of God; a tired and weary servant of God; God’s salvation and healing stretching across to nations to the ends of the earth; waters; coastlands; light to the nations; light breaking in; and
Blue waters; tan and brown earth; red for the clarion call of the servant; yellow/gold symbolizing light to the nations; vibrant red, green, blue, yellow-gold, and orange representing the nations of the world coming together. Incorporating the flags of nations is an option to bring these colors into the worship space and symbolize unity and the global community coming together, called and created by God.
VIII. Songs to Accompany This Sermon
Siyahamba. African Hymn. Use as a processional/recessional hymn.
Guide My Feet. This selection can be played preferably with drums.
B. Modern Song(s) (Written between 2000–2011)
Bow Down/Holy Spirit. By Benjamin Dubé. For liturgical dance or praise and worship
He’s Able. By Darwin Hobbs with Deitrick Haddon
The Power of One (Change the World). By Israel Houghton. This is a great song for liturgical dance or background music for your mission slideshow (or other mission partnerships ministries in the world for which your church members can pray and support).
Work Your Faith. By James Moss
Another Day’s Journey. Traditional
Black, White, and Tan. By Nicole C. Mullen
It’s about Time for a Miracle. By Samuel L. Butts
Well Done. By Deitrick Haddon
Eyes of Faith. By Stephen Hurd
C. Songs for Choirs, Ensembles, and Praise and Worship Teams
Only What You Do for Christ Will Last. By Raymond Rasberry. Arr. by Valeria A. Foster
We All Are One in Mission. By Rusty Edwards. Music by Marilyn E. Thornton. Arr. by Mark A. Miller
The Decision. By V. Michael McKay
World without Walls. By David A. Robb and Amanda Husburg. Music by Newlove Annan
D. Liturgical Dance Music
Love God. Love People. By Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey, and Tommy Simms
Speak. By Jamar Jones and Johnnie Murray
E. Song or Instrumental for the Period of Prayer
I Need Your Glory. By James Fortune
Precious Lord, Take My Hand. By Thomas A. Dorsey
F. Sermonic Selection(s)
Loyalty. By Desmond Pringle
Show Yourself Mighty. By Luther Barnes and Mal Williams
G. Invitational Song(s)
Alpha and Omega by Israel and New Breed
Yes by Shekinah Glory Ministries
H. Benediction Song(s)
Still Say, Thank You. By Smokie Norful
Praise You Forever. By Jarmone Davis, Christopher B. Lewis, Big Bob Terry, and Jerry Vines
IX. Praying for Missionaries
Mt 13:38..........Father, I pray for those out in the mission fields,
Mt 13:38..........spreading the good news of the Gospel
Mt 24:14..........in this country and around the world.
1 Jn 3:17..........They have seen their brothers' and sisters’ needs
1 Jn 3:17..........and have not shut up their hearts from them,
3 Jn 1:7............but have faithfully gone forth into all the earth.
2 Tim 1:9..........Let them be called with a holy calling,
2 Tim 1:9..........not according to their works,
2 Tim 1:9..........but according to Your own purpose, Father.
1 Jn 3:16..........Out of love they have laid down their lives
Jas 1:25............and determined to be doers of the work, not hearers only.
Act 16:24.........I pray for those in prison for their beliefs.
2 Tim 1:8..........Not being ashamed, they share in the sufferings for the Gospel,
2 Tim 2:10........and endure all things for the sake of those chosen for salvation.
Act 16:26.........Father, send forth Your angels and cause them to be set free.
Heb 6:10..........Do not forget their work and labor of love.
2 Tim 4:17........Stand with them and strengthen them.
2 Tim 4:18........Deliver them from every evil work and preserve them.
Phil 1:12...........Cause the things which have happened to actually
Phil 1:12...........turn out for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Ps 104:4...........Make your ministers a flame of fire,
Phil 2:16...........Help them to hold fast to the Word of life
Eph. 5:10..........proving what is acceptable to the Lord,
Eph. 5:11..........exposing the unfruitful works of darkness,
Phil 2:15...........and shining as bright lights in a dark world.
2 Thes 3:8.........Let their hard work be an example to us,
1 Thes 3:2.........as we send fellow laborers and ministers of God
1 Thes 3:2.........to encourage and establish them concerning their faith,
1 Thes 3:3.........so that they will not be shaken by afflictions.
1 Thes 2:2.........Give them the boldness to speak the Gospel in the midst of conflict
1 Cor. 2:4..........in demonstration of the Spirit and power
Col 4:17............and to fulfill the ministry they have received in the Lord.
X. Videos, Audio, and/or Interactive Media
Apostle Claude Pressoir, Remember the Children of Haiti on the Power of Prayer in the Nations
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks about the call for Ubuntu, emphasizing our interrelatedness. “We are human only together.”
Former President Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu and our collective efforts to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Former President Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu Philosophy Overview
Ubuntu Global Village Project HEAL Mission Video
Heal the World by Michael Jackson.
“CNN: The Role of the African American Church.
XI. Books to Assist in Preparing Sermons or Bible Studies Related to Mission Sunday(Missions Abroad)
Ilibagiza, Immaculée and Steve Irwin. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2007.
Kalu, Ogbu U, ed. “Globalization and Mission in the 21st Century” in Mission after Christendom: Emergent Themes in Contemporary Mission. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
Maathai, Wangari. Unbowed: A Memoir. New York, NY: Anchor, 2007.
Maathai, Wangari. The Challenge for Africa. New York, NY: Anchor, 2010.
Oduyoye, Mercy Amba. Beads and Strands: Reflections of an African Woman on Christianity in Africa. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004.
Oduyoye, Mercy Amba. Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2009.
Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson. This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2010.
Tutu, Desmond. An African Prayer Book. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2006.
Martin, Sandy D. Black Baptists and African Missions: The Origins of a Movement 1880–1915. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998.
Campbell, James T. Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
XII. Links to Helpful Websites for Mission Sunday (Missions Abroad)
Siyahamba. African Hymn. Use as a processional/recessional hymn. Location: African American Heritage Hymnal. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2001. #164
Guide My Feet. This selection can be played perfectly with drums. Location:
African American Heritage Hymnal. #131
B. Modern Song(s) (Written between 2000–2011)
Bow Down/Holy Spirit. By Benjamin Dubé. For liturgical dance or praise and worship Location: I Feel Like Going on. New York, NY: Sony, 2000.
He’s Able. By Darwin Hobbs with Deitrick Haddon Location:
Haddon, Deitrick Presents Voices of Unity. Together in Worship. Indianapolis, IN: Tyscot Records, 2007.
The Power of One (Change the World). By Israel Houghton. This is a great song for liturgical dance or background music for your mission slideshow (or other mission partnerships ministries in the world for which your church members can pray and support). Location: The Power of One. New York, NY: Sony, 2009.
Work Your Faith. By James Moss Location:
Straight Gate Mass Choir. Expectations: I’ll Raise. Detroit, MI: Bajada Records, 2003.
Another Day’s Journey. Traditional Location:
Pace, LaShun. I Know I Been Changed. Jackson, MS: Malaco, 2005.
Black, White, and Tan. By Nicole C. Mullen Location: Nicole C. Mullen. New York, NY: Word, 2000.
It’s about Time for a Miracle. By Samuel L. Butts Location:
Crawford, Beverly. Live from Los Angeles, Vol. 2. Los Angeles, CA: JDI Records, 2010.
Well Done. By Deitrick Haddon Location: Church on the Moon. New York, NY: Verity, 2011.
Eyes of Faith. By Stephen Hurd Location:
Wilmington Chester Mass Choir. He’s Been Good. Middleburg, FL: Emtro Gospel, 2010.
C. Songs for Choirs, Ensembles, and Praise and Worship Teams
Only What You Do for Christ Will Last. By Raymond Rasberry. Arr. By Valeria A. Foster Location:
African American Heritage Hymnal. #548
We All Are One in Mission. By Rusty Edwards. Music by Marilyn E. Thornton. Arr. by Mark A. Miller Location: Zion Still Sings for Every Generation. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2007. #99
The Decision. By V. Michael McKay Location:
African American Heritage Hymnal. #388
World without Walls. By David A. Robb and Amanda Husburg. Music by Newlove Annan Location:
Zion Still Sings. #102
D. Liturgical Dance Music
Love God. Love People. By Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey, and Tommy Simms Location:
Houghton, Israel & New Breed. Decade. Colorado Springs, CO: Kingsway Music, 2012.
Speak. By Jamar Jones and Johnnie Murray Location:
Butler, Myron. Worship. Brentwood, TN: EMI Music, 2012.
E. Song or Instrumental for the Period of Prayer
I Need Your Glory. By James Fortune Location:
Pugh, Earnest. Earnestly Yours. New York, NY: Worldwide Music, 2011.
Precious Lord, Take My Hand. By Thomas A. Dorsey Location: Celebrate the Heritage of Gospel. Jackson, MS: Malaco, 1999.
F. Sermonic Selection(s)
Loyalty. By Desmond Pringle Location: Loyalty. New York, NY: Tommy Boy, 2001.
Show Yourself Mighty. By Luther Barnes and Mal Williams Location:
Barnes, Luther & The Sunset Jubilaires. Another Level. Atlanta, GA: AIR Gospel, 2012.
G. Invitational Song(s)
Alpha and Omega. By Israel Houghton and New Breed Location: Alive in South Africa. New York, NY: Sony, 2005.
Yes. By Shekinah Glory Ministry Location: The Best of Shekinah Glory Ministry. Harvey, IL: Kingdom Records, 2009.
H. Benediction Song(s)
Still Say, Thank You. By Smokie Norful Location: I Need You Now. Brentwood, TN: Chordant, 2002.
Praise You Forever. By Jarmone Davis, Christopher B. Lewis, Big Bob Terry, and Jerry Vines Location:
Sapp, Marvin. Here I Am. New York, NY: Verity, 2010.
1. For further reading on Ubuntu Theology, read Battle, Michael. Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1997.