Prayer. Participation. Provision. Ministry requires all of these. What if every missionary’s testimony was that they had too many people on their prayer team; that they had too many churches that were grooming people to join in the work full time on the mission field; that the money that they are receiving to do the work is coming in too fast?! Lloyd and I were appointed with WorldVenture in 2002 – so I’ve only been a full time missionary for 15 years. In all of that time I’ve never, ever heard even one of these phrases.
Here’s what I do know: the missionaries that I know are some of the most gifted, anointed, talented, innovative people that I have ever known. They are creatively sharing the truth of the Gospel with a dying world and suffering much loss in the process, however, they count the loss as nothing to even mention. They don’t go to the field because of some warm fuzzy feeling that overtakes them – they go because the call of God compels them to go! They are not beggars who come to your church or small group because there is no where else to go — they are sent ones who come to your church or small group because they know that just as they have answered the call to go; the Body of Christ must answer the call to participate by praying, participating and giving provisions.
In Exodus – when the people realized that God had placed among them gifted artisans/skilled people to do the work; they willingly brought their gifts so that the work could be completed – so much so that Moses had to tell them to stop bringing gifts. It would be a beautiful thing if this would happen in the Body of Christ today. The work is not done! Not for those who are sent out – and not for those responsible for sending them.
What would it take for the Body of Christ to support missions in this way?
I don’t know. But my prayer is that it will be so.
The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and aproclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it. Exodus 36: 5 – 7
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WHERE WE ARE SERVING IN AFRICA
Lately it seems that many different people and ministries are touting themselves as the definition of discipleship – or missions – or evangelism – or whatever. Some of what is out there is very interesting and even very helpful. But much of it comes from a closed view of what the world is and who God is.
But I know a man who earned a college degree and had a promising career – but saw a place in God’s kingdom for his gifts and answered the call of his Lord to put personal desires on hold to introduce people to the abundant life in Christ. This fellow went on to earn a masters degree at a prestigious institution, which earned him the credentials to ask for the job of his choice in the gospel ministry – again he put his personal aspirations on the back burner and moved, with his family, to a remote place where they can only depend upon God and one another. Each quarter this man invites leaders that he hardly knows to come and live with his family and ‘do life’ with them – while he also takes his 4 years of seminary and condenses it for these leaders so that they will leave him, after two years of quarterly visits, with a seminary education – minus the expense.
All the while – his wife and his sons get to watch him live and lead – and they too are moved to live lives of sacrifice not for personal satisfaction, but so that people whose lives that they touch will be forever changed by the power of the gospel that not only brings salvation – but true life – abundant life – real life. His wife and sons look at his life and say This Is Discipleship!
What is Discipleship, you may ask?? As they have seen it in his life; it is living in community with those whom you are called to disciple wherever you are in the world and no matter the cost – for the cost of discipleship is STEEP! Discipleship is getting into people’s lives (and allowing them to get into yours) and doing life with them so that they can see it, touch it, feel it, hear it and become all that God intended them to be – and so that you too come away from the experience changed, renewed, strengthened and empowered for godly living. Discipleship is sacrificing YOU for the other guy in order that we all may reach maturity in Christ. Discipleship is living the same way behind closed doors that you do when the door is wide open so that others may come to know the living Lord as their King and Savior – this is discipleship – the way Jesus did it with the twelve – life on life.
I won’t mention this man’s name – there is no need. But when I look at his life, I see Christ – I see a disciple maker – I see a bond servant of Christ who has come to love the world so much that he not only gives them the gospel, but he gives the world his very life! If he ever reads this, I pray that he’ll know of whom I speak – and he’ll know that at least one person in the world looks at his life and says – This Is Discipleship!
It is normally quite easy to trust God – after all He is the creator of all things, He is just and faithful, His loving-kindness does endure to all generations. But walking closely with the Lord, you are challenged constantly in your relationship with Him. His ways are not your ways, nor or His thoughts yours. As you walk in obedience, with the assurance that you will have your needs met, there are times when God’s method of meeting your needs does not line up with your logic and understanding. Think about our brother, Job. God presented Job to the enemy as a sacrifice of faith – “We’ll see. Go ahead– do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him” (Job 1:12 The Message).
In times like this, it is easy for us to dismiss hard times as a part of living and not recognize that they are tests of our obedience and devotion to Him. As a missionary, one of the hardest things that we do every day is depend upon the people of God to faithfully honor the financial commitments that they make to keep us on the field. We have found God to be faithful, but we have seen and are seeing more often nowadays moments when the faithful prove not to be so. Our temptation can be to just go back home and return to ‘normal’ lives; or to feel like we are not fully supported because we have somehow failed both God and man. But as we look at the story of Job, we are reminded time and time again that God’s deepest desire is that we depend upon him desperately – yes DESPERATELY!
Desperation is such a difficult place, don’t you agree? But let’s return to Job’s story – at the end of it all in Job 42 – he says “”I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans” (Job 42:1 The Message)
Yes indeed – a witness from a time long ago reminding us that even when the people of God are lulled into a sense of complacency and do not seem to be honoring God’s desire that we continue what we know God has called us to – we must never forget that God is in control and His plans cannot be thwarted.
As I started writing this post – I was feeling a bit discouraged – feeling a praise now coming up from within me that I just cannot keep to myself! Hallelujah! He Alone Is God!