On May 24, churches around the world will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. In the CRC, this often includes an offering and a time to acknowledge the work that each church does on the global mission field through ministries of Christian Reformed World Missions that it supports.
But people sometimes ask, why Pentecost? What is the connection between tongues of fire and mission work? Below are three great connections between Pentecost and missions.
- Pentecost celebrates the presence of the Holy Spirit.
All of the events that occurred on Pentecost Sunday began with the Holy Spirit. In a powerful display of fire and wind, the Holy Spirit united the believers and added to their number. In the same way, the Holy Spirit prompts the work of missionaries. It is the Holy Spirit that calls them to a life of service. When missionaries share stories of new believers and strengthened leaders, they testify to the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that goes far beyond their own abilities and gifts.
- Pentecost celebrates languages and cultures.
In Pentecost, God reversed the curse of Babel by uniting people of various languages and cultures to be the one people of God. Believers from many different nations were gathered in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came. “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues,” they exclaimed. Missions work also celebrates a cross-cultural worship experience. Whether a missionary is speaking Spanish in a Nicaraguan classroom or worshiping in a Japanese church plant, they are recognizing the beauty in different cultures and traditions.
- Pentecost tells the beginning of a larger story.
The book of Acts begins with the events of Pentecost telling the story of the first churches. These first Christians emphasized sharing the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles and serving God’s people—caring for widows and healing the sick. As the book continues, we read about how the believers scatter (Acts 8 ) and sending the first missionaries (Acts 13). If we use this book as a model for our church, it is clear that God has called all of us to fulfill His mission. Pentecost Sunday serves as a great time to recognize and renew that commitment.
Celebrate the Holy Spirit and your church’s role in global missions this Pentecost with materials from CRWM. These are available at crwm.org/Pentecost.