In 1989, I boarded a plane with my husband and off we went on our 1st mission trip to Belize City, Belize, Central America. Our sleeping arrangements involved single bunk beds on a cement floor in the dank basement of a missionary couple’s home. Roaches flew by as I tried to fall asleep, and I recall the exact words I said to my husband. Adamantly, I declared, “How in the world could you take me to this God-forsaken place?” Of course, as I look back, it was more the cockroaches that invoked this question which was more a declaration of my mental state at the time.
As I think about my comment, I realize that missions and evangelism is all about bringing the Gospel of Jesus to God-forsaken places, but with my first experience, I could not get beyond the cockroach mentality and my disdain for the creatures. Fortunately, in time, I was really blessed by many of the lovely people I met on my subsequent trips to Belize. Praise God.
Matthew 28:18-20 implores us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [ESV] While some are called to give up money and their livelihood to follow the Great Commission, others will be called to a different mission, purpose, or place. What is important is for us to seek out God’s plan for our individual lives and to obey His direction at all stages of our lives.
As a United States citizen, it is sometimes difficult to even imagine the poverty some people live in on a daily basis. It is hard to imagine worshipping in a run-down shack without air-conditioning or sanitation. A.W. Tozer, an American Christian writer, said, “Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Worldliness is an accepted fact of our way of life. Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual.” We are now seeing churches sporting cafés, movie theaters, gymnasiums, and even local fashion shows. For those reading this who are from an “advanced” country”, have you ever thought that our abundance could be so we can give generously to the cause of evangelism rather than on our own pleasures and wants? While many are trusting God in total dependency in living out their calling, so many others (even believers) have little regard for the Gospel of Jesus and have become so ME centered that the Lord hardly even seems present in their lives other than an occasional church service or a cursory glance at the Bible.
It is important to remember that Satan does not want us to be involved in any missionary or evangelical endeavor. Period! His desire is for us to either stay neutral on the subject or to become more centered in our lives so our lives resolve around us and what makes us happy rather than around others. Sometimes those in mission work get so discouraged seeing so few showing an interest in their Christian beliefs or evangelism.
Regardless, God’s purposes will always be fulfilled. Even today, we can see the Holy Spirit operating around the world in many different nations. Many are coming to accept Christ where the Gospel has never been preached before. Salvations are occurring in spite of witchcraft, demonic influences, and secular rites and rituals. People are accepting Jesus Christ despite the fear of imprisonment, the fear of beheading, and the fear of being ostracized. It is happening because of the prayers of believers. Maybe you are praying for a particular missionary, a specific country, a mission trip, or giving a donation to help others participate in the Great Commission. If so, you are part of a wonderful opportunity by allowing the Holy Spirit to use you in His work.
As we pray for souls to be saved, let us remember the profound words of South African writer, teacher and Christian pastor Andrew Murray. In Pray for the World, Murray is quoted saying, “Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think.” God does work in mysterious ways.
Below are some ideas on how we can advance the cause of Christ. They are in no particular order, but worthy of considering.
- Adopt and pray for a particular country. Ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit to seek out the lost and lead them to Him.
- Research your country. Learn as much as you can about the culture, land, religion, livelihood, population, ethnic groups, economy, literacy, languages, education, and more. [This is a nice family activity to do.]
- Seek out opportunities for involvement.
- Be obedient to whatever or wherever the Lord leads.
- Befriend a person(s) from a different culture or country.
- Participate in a mission trip – local or foreign.
- Provide mission-centered training in your church or organization.
- Have a “missions fair” at your church.
|A Small World; Lagos, Nigeria 2013|
Evil is abounding right now in every corner of the world. Let’s increase our faith, shape our Christian ministries, and pray sincerely for the Holy Spirit to be a mighty force in reaching the world for Christ. And let’s remind ourselves that God desires salvation for ALL people - even those in "God-forsaken" countries!
Praying for you,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5 ESV
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the preset age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 ESV
Lord Jesus. Thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Lord, please soften my heart so I am more sensitive to the eternal and spiritual needs of others. Let me pray for the Holy Spirit to gently guide me to the purposes and callings You have already planned for me. Let me see opportunities through Your eyes and give me the courage and willingness to respond. Amen.
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Mandryk, Jason. Pray for the World: Abridged from Operation World.
Downers Grove, Illinois: WEC International, 2015.
Yohannan, K.P. Revolution in World Missions. Wills Point, Tex: GFA, 2004.