by Urgessa Biru, Light of Hope Ministry Ethiopia Director
What does Genesis 12:1–3 mean to Christian mission in general and frontier work in particular, and why does it matter to us today? These three verses show that God desired to use Abram, who later became Abraham, and his descendants to bless the nations, laying the foundation for God’s future work of redemption.
This is a defining moment in the frontier mission movement of God. God’s divine plan includes working through fallen and broken people in His mission to redeem humanity. In other words, the calling of Abraham and his family was designed to be the funnel for God’s blessings—“in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” They were called to a mission beyond just self-preservation, and they obeyed. This aspect of God’s election for the sake of blessing others is an important facet of frontier mission today.
In Genesis 12:1–3, God spoke to Abraham—perhaps by a miracle, dream or vision. One of the lessons we can draw from this is that God is interested in calling His children to be involved in His mission of reaching people all over the world who haven’t yet heard the Good News.
Another lesson we can draw from this story is that God can work through ordinary people like Abraham and Sarah—the most unlikely pair for the task. God’s selection of a barren couple to become a great nation that would bless others encourages us that it’s first and foremost God’s power and initiative that will accomplish His purposes in our lives. The same powerful, divine word that created the world out of nothing at the beginning (Genesis 1) and spoke to a barren couple to create new hope and possibility through them can fill our emptiness and use us for His glory. As Zechariah declared God’s word, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6), so we shouldn’t count ourselves out since the God of Abraham and Sarah is our God as well and can use any one of us.
God said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). He was told to leave everything—his home, his relatives and his community. God called him to a loyalty and commitment that transcended even his family ties, the most important of all relationships in his life. In other words, this command draws Abraham into a journey that leaves behind an old life of comfort and security and moves forward into a life of uncertainty and insecurity.
Our calling and commission today—to prioritize God’s purposes and engage the world as witnesses to His love—isn’t different than that of Abraham. Sadly, many Christians turn inward, worry only about their own survival, consider themselves as God’s only concern or ignore the wider community in which they live. But Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25).
Abraham’s call and obedience were instrumental in God’s plan to bring about the redemption of humanity through faith in Jesus Christ. Today, God continues to call His Church to the proclamation of this message (Matthew 28:18–20). Like Abraham, He intends to use our obedience to bless the millions of people in the world who are still waiting to hear this very Good News.