We are USPG – United Society Partners in the Gospel. We are an Anglican mission agency that supports the work of local churches around the world. This has been our mission since our foundation as The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) in 1701.
Back in 1701, many understood mission to be primarily about exporting the gospel from here to there; we now appreciate that mission is from everywhere to everywhere. So while the gospel has always been central to our work, how the gospel is expressed has developed through the centuries. Indeed, our task as Christians is to proclaim the gospel afresh in each generation.
With this in mind, this study course seeks to explore what the gospel means today by drawing on the wisdom of Anglicans in five different cultures. We trust and pray that you will be inspired!
Dr Packiam Samuel, Director of the Henry Martyn Institute, India, offers a personal view on what the gospel means today.
This study course offers a special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. Our aim is to take a closer look at what we understand by the
gospel in the globalised world of the twenty-first century.
It is an opportunity to reflect on how we are living and deepen our commitment to a gospel way of life. At the same time, we approach this study course with humility, seeking God in prayer, experiencing sorrow for where we have fallen short, and pledging to be more generous to those in need.
So, what is the gospel? I want to suggest it has both an inner and an outer aspect. The inner aspect refers to our relationship with God; the outer aspect refers to our relationship with our neighbours. Both are essential.
In our so-called developed countries, almost everybody is educated, but this
has not transformed people. People seem as empty as ever! Something is
missing. There is no peace and serenity.
While an academic education is
good for training doctors, engineers and professors, it does not touch our
interior being. It does not provide the insight that can create Christ in us. The main effect of academic education is to ‘force in’ borrowed knowledge.
What we are lacking is a ‘gospel education’, which means education of the inner being. Unless we become acquainted with an interior knowing of
Christ – an inner contact with God – all other types of knowledge are useless.
An academic education might be useful in teaching practical skills, but it does not reach our interior being. By contrast, a gospel education results in joy, peace and compassion.
When we look at the world, we see the huge challenge of poverty. All religions emphasise the need to look after the poor. But this should not be seen as an act of kindness or charity – it is an act of justice because those who are poor have as much right to the world’s resources as the rich.
Poverty is a by-product of greed. As one part of society goes on accumulating, the other part becomes poor. People have lived for centuries
under this form of exploitation – but change is possible. We can do something about it.
In my view, a man who accumulates money, seeing clearly that his greed is
part of a system that is damaging the lives of millions of people, lacks basic
humanity. The situation is especially tragic in an era in which our technology could enable everyone to live comfortably, with no need for poverty relief.
We need to understand that poverty is not fate or a punishment from God, but a man-made injustice. The gospel is calling us to undo the man-made injustice of poverty.
It is time for us to wake up! Let us allow the Scriptures to bring us face to face and heart to heart with the Lord. If we can begin living with God inwardly – while outwardly living with compassion and seeking justice – then we have found the gospel.
I pray that, through this course, we can begin to experience something more of the inner and outer reality of the gospel.