December 25, 2005 Q & A

Underground Missions


Could you please provide scriptural bases and a reformed rationale for "covert" missions or "'underground" mission work in particular regions of the world?

I basically understand the human logic of covert missions (long-term tent-makers in particular parts of this earth, etc.), but am still curious of specific reasons that may validate the secretive approach to spreading the gospel of Christ. In the missionary accounts in the book of Acts I tend to see a different approach and pattern. Thank you.


Greetings in the blessed Name of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of his people.

I am a minister in the OPC currently serving as the Associate General Secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions and was asked to respond to your question.

I am curious as to the nature of your question and whether you are referring to any of the work currently being conducted by the OPC's Committee. The official policy of the Committee instructs the missionary (except when specific relief from the rule has been applied for) to disclose who he is and what he is doing.

For instance that section of our manual begins by stating, "Recognizing that God has ordained civil magistrates to be, under him, over the people for his own glory and the public good, all missionaries are encouraged to demonstrate their respect for the magistrate's authority by making the appropriate governmental officials—especially at the local level—aware of who they are and what they are there to do. In countries where there is a reasonable expectation that so doing might significantly endanger the lives of those with whom the missionary comes in contact, the missionary may, as his conscience directs him, apply to the Committee for relief from the general rule stated above."

Concerning official requests from the national government, the manual goes on to state, "Bearing in mind our duty to confess Christ before men, to maintain and promote truth, and to call all men to repentance and faith through the Lord Jesus Christ, ministers called by the Committee to undertake the work of missionary evangelist shall, upon official request by the government of the nation to which they are sent, disclose their office as a minister of the Word, their calling as a missionary evangelist sent by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and their primary purpose to preach the Word of God."

You might be able to see therefore why I am unable to try to offer a defense of a position that is contrary to our stated policy. As you have observed, a Christian may move somewhere and take up secular work in order to develop relationships that will eventually enable him or her to talk to others about the hope of the Gospel. A minister of the Gospel on the other hand, while he may at times supplement his labors with some other income, will be compelled by his calling to preach the Gospel wherever he is. He is not a tentmaker who is also a minister; he is a minister of the Gospel who is also a tentmaker.

In those countries and among those peoples where believers are in danger, our missionaries are careful and thoughtful in the execution of their calling. They often must do things in obedience to the Gospel that are violation of the laws of men. However, while clearly understanding that lying is contrary to the ninth commandment, they also realize that they must also be mindful of keeping the sixth commandment, because in the end they not only place themselves at risk but the lives of other believers.

I hope that this answer has helped you.



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