No Mission Without Compassion
- By Dr. Chris Gnanakan
- Published 11/12/2009
Dr. Chris Gnanakan
Revd. Dr. Chris Gnanakan, DMin, PhD. is the Director of Training for Outreach To Asia Nationals. OTAN serves in over nine countries in Asia where traditional missions is ‘restricted’, by equipping and empowering national, pastoral leaders to fulfil the great commission.
Chris, a native of Bangalore, worked as an electrician in MICO factory for 3 years before theological studies at the Word of Life Bible Institute and School of Youth Mission (New York). He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Tennessee Temple University and went on to do a Master’s in Divinity at Temple Baptist Seminary that he completed at the Asia Graduate School of Theology.
Chris was a youth pastor and ordained at Emmanuel Baptist Church. In 1990 he founded Banaswadi Bible Church where he was the pastor-teacher for over 10 years. He is known as a Youth, Bible & Mission conference speaker and for his radio broadcast with FEBA (Transforming Truth) and TWR (Thru the Bible). His passion is for evangelism, whole-life discipleship, mentoring, training leaders & empowering the Church in Mission.
Chris lectures on and produces curriculum for ‘Biblical Mandate for Evangelism’ at the Haggai Institute for Leadership Development (since 1999 at Maui & Singapore). As an evangelical, he has served as a consultant with the Commission on World Mission & Evangelism on-site London, Switzerland, Athens, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Chile and with Urban Missions in Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and China.
During his stay and PhD research in the UK, Chris was a Teaching Assistance at the University of Leeds in the department of Theology & Religious Studies and also served as a minister at the South Parade Baptist Church, where he developed outreach & care cells. Chris teaches ‘Clinical Pastoral Education’ at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. He is chairman for the Christian Forum for Child Development & Samaritan Purse’s regional Prescription for Hope program
Since 1995, Chris joined SAIACS as Professor and HoD of Pastoral Theology & Counseling and Dean of Chapel. Here, for 13 years, he trained leaders for ministry and mission in India’s globalising context and is passionate doing ”Evangelism through Local Churches”. He is now appointed to serve as the Director of Training for OTAN (Outreach To Asia Nationals) from June 2009.
Chris is happily married to Dorothy, an IT software educator, and they have two daughters Alethea and Charis. Chris enjoys memorising poems on the Bible and football.
NB: The father did not have to give this son his part of the inheritance that was his only after his dad died. In Ancient Near Eastern, shame-honor culture, in effect the boy was saying to his dad: “I wish you were dead!”. For this he would be disowned by family members and excommunicated from the community. Found again in the vicinity, the vindictive society could spit on or throw stones at this disgraceful boy. This is why on seeing the son’s faint steps the father takes giant strides toward him. Now, have you seen a dignified, rich, head of a house, run on a public road? Never! Who did this kind of thing? The household slave! This explains why the boy doesn’t complete his confession, asking the father to make him one of his hired servants (cf: v.19, 21). His father had already taken on this role of a slave in order to reclaim this reprobate son. Further the father envelops him and keeps kissing him, so if someone spat or threw a stone, guess who it will have to first hit? – the forgiving, reconciling Father of all grace and mercy, so full of compassion.
Compassion is that intense emotion which beyond feeling, shares in and sacrificially ’suffers with’ (Latin com=with, passio=to suffer) and on behalf of the one in pain. Such love is divine. It refers (Hebrew rachamim) to the womb of Yahweh, and (Greek, splanchma) denotes the intestines or what we would call, guts. I am convinced there can be no mission without compassion and the father’s actions teach us what this implies: without giving up on his boy lived with burden and expectant hope. He publicly unleashed his emotions for him and throws the grandest party inviting others to share in His joy! Moreover he went out to his elder son to get him also to reconcile with this son. This story is really about three slaves: a wasteful prodigal who set out to find his freedom and was enslaved feeding swine; a father becoming a slave in order to win his son back and a self-righteous older brother working with the mentality of a slave in his own house!
So, why didn’t the father go searching for the lost son? The answer is in recognizing who is telling this parable and to whom? Again the clue lies in that this is also a story about three sons: the prodigal son representing lost sinners, the pouting son characteristic of the critical ‘lost’ Pharisee and the perfect Son– Jesus the narrator, who the heavenly Father did send to seek and save the lost (Lk.19:10). Christ is the concrete embodiment of divine compassion. His compassion is depicted on the cross and ‘in Christ’ we can face our sinful selves and return to the Father’s love and house. Did you know that Jesus’ Spirit of compassion is shed in our hearts (Rom 5:5) so then we can win the lost at any cost!
Dr. Chris Gnanakan