MENU

What Does Juneteenth Have to Do With Global Missions?

By Anthony English, Jun 19, 2020

Today is Juneteenth, an important holiday for African Americans as it is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two years after the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln, General Gordon Granger of the Union rode into Galveston, Texas, with his soldiers. There he read to the slaves General Order Number 3 which began with, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” From that day onward, June 19 has been known as Black America’s independence day and is celebrated every year with food, family, and good conversation on issues relevant to the African-American community. So what does Juneteenth have to do with global missions? 

Jesus’ Emancipation Proclamation

God created humanity in His image and our purpose as His creation was to glorify and enjoy God, be in upright relationships with one another, and steward His world well by spreading the Garden across the globe. All was well until our first parent, Adam, disobeyed God’s command and through his disobedience, introduced sin, death, and judgment into creation. Sin fractured everything: our relationship to God, our relationship with our fellow man, and our relationship to creation. All the brokenness we see in the world and in ourselves is a result of the Fall in Genesis 3 and it is because of the Fall that humanity finds itself under the judgment of God.

God didn’t leave us in that state however. Because of His great love, He sent His Son to Earth to live the only perfect life, die on the cross, and then rise again from the dead three days later. He took the sin of the world on Himself and received God’s judgment due us on the cross. All those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ are adopted into God’s worldwide family, receive the free gift of eternal life, and experience the forgiveness of sin. And through His work He has brought healing to what sin has broken. He came to mend man’s broken relationship to God, to one another, and to creation. He came to, as Isaac Watts wrote in his famous hymn Joy to the World, “make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” Jesus came to Earth on a mission of blessing, healing, salvation, and emancipation. In John 8:31–32, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus came to bring freedom to those held captive by sin and He did that through His life, death, and resurrection.

It is this gospel of Jesus’ emancipation proclamation that we as the Church have been tasked to take to a world held captive by Satan (Matt. 28:16–20; 2 Tim. 2:24–26). We are to let all know that in Jesus Christ, the “year of the Lord’s favor” has arrived and we are now called to announce this gospel news to “the poor … [and] to proclaim liberty to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind” (Lk. 4:18-19). We go forth to the nations and proclaim the gospel of the Great Liberator, Jesus Christ.

But wait, there’s more!

And yet, that isn’t all that we do as the Church. We also go and work as the hands and feet of Jesus in order to “set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk. 4:18). He cares deeply about the oppressed, marginalized, and poor. Psalm 72:11-14 in speaking ultimately of King Jesus says, “May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.”

Jesus of Nazareth cares so much about the oppressed, marginalized, and poor that He identifies with them to the point of actually becoming an oppressed, marginalized, and poor Jewish man Himself in His incarnation under the brutal and corrupt Roman Empire! And now this risen and exalted Middle Eastern King sends us as His Church to care for the oppressed, marginalized, and poor as well. This is why Mission to the World’s fourth core value is “Mercy, justice, and the love of God,” which means “a love for God that is demonstrated through acts of mercy and justice.” Our missionaries go cross-culturally and overseas to love others in word and deed. To preach a Jesus that didn’t just die for the salvation of their souls, but of their bodies as well. A Jesus who doesn’t simply care about their spiritual state, but cares about their physical, material, and economic state as well.

Just like when He walked the Earth, Jesus is still bringing liberty to the oppressed, marginalized, and poor today through His Church. Through His people, He is bringing freedom to those enslaved through sex trafficking by helping them get out of that demonic situation. He’s helping the poor by feeding them as well as teaching them how to create and run their own businesses. He’s loving children by spending time with them. He’s healing sickness and disease through doctors and nurses. He’s helping the refugee, clothing the naked, and casting out demons. He is still the Great Liberator and if the gospel we are preaching is only good news for people’s souls and eternity but not good news for their bodies and physical lives, then our gospel is too small.

CELEBRATE!

So what does Juneteenth have to do with global missions? Everything! We are to go and proclaim to those still held captive by sin and Satan the gospel of Jesus’ emancipation proclamation which not only deals with their spiritual oppression, marginalization, and poverty but also their physical oppression, marginalization, and poverty.

And Juneteenth doesn’t only speak to global missions, but it also speaks to us individually as Christians. Just as the exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt leads us to praise God for His deliverance of His people and causes us to praise Him for the ultimate exodus of His Church led by the Greater Moses, Jesus, so Juneteenth should lead us to praise God for the deliverance of the African-American community out of slavery and cause us to praise Him for the ultimate Juneteenth in the person and work of Jesus Christ for us!

So celebrate today! Eat, drink, be merry, and give praise and worship to Jesus Christ, for our Great Liberator has come to inaugurate our freedom and He will come again to bring our freedom to a full and final completion.

Anthony English is assistant director of MTW’s West Coast hub.

Please login to continue
Forgot your password?
Recover it here.
Don't have an account?
Create an Account
Sign Up for Free
Name
Email
Choose Password
Confirm Password

GET INVOLVED

Next Generation Missionaries to the Muslim World
1–11 Months
Skilled Volunteers Needed in Chile | Flexible Dates
Mission Trips
Explore Your Global Calling in Kigali, Rwanda
Summer Internships

Who Cares for Me? Understanding the Role of Care as You Choose a Missions Agency

At MTW we want our missionaries to know who cares for them and what kind of member care to expect on the mission field.

SEE MORE

The Benefits of Missions Work Among the Nations in South Korea

As a child in South Korea, Jonathan never met a foreigner. Today he sees them everywhere. Migration has opened wide new doors to ministry.

SEE MORE

Haiti: Updates from a Country in Turmoil

Haiti has been mired in a downward spiral of a multifaceted crisis that has brought its people to their knees with a cry of desperation.

SEE MORE

Pray that missionaries would feel cared for while on the field. Pray, too, for our Member Care Department staff as they seek to care for missionaries well.

Pray for God's work among the nations in South Korea through MTW's Diaspora Ministry.

Please pray for Haiti, and particularly for the safety of our ministry partners in Gonaives as they continue to labor patiently with the people.

Pray that believers in Poland would get theological materials they need in their heart language through a new publishing ministry. 

Pray for MTW's ministry in Haiti in the midst of ongoing gang violence and ongoing instability.

Pray for the people of Ukraine including the pastors, elders, and church members we work with. Pray that the war would end, and that God would use this crisis to draw Ukrainians to Himself. 

Pray for the Ethiopia ACT project, which cares for the sick and vulnerable in Addis Ababa. Pray for staff and for participants.

Pray for the Island to Island partnership bringing together Pacific Islands nations for a coordinated gospel effort. Pray for churches in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands. 

Pray that as we engage people globally with cultural sensitivity, that they would be open to relationships with MTW missionaries and, more importantly, open to the truth of the gospel.

Pray for those in Vina del Mar, Chile, devastated by raging wildfires, particularly those involved with our CEMIPRE ministry to the blind and differently-enabled.

SUBSCRIBE TO STORIES & MORE

Good news in your inbox, once per week.