I grew up in an evangelical church which emphasized evangelism, but minored on global missions. Sure, we had a women’s missionary organization which did a study once a year and met for fellowship. The distinct impression which I received as a teenage boy was that missions was something that someone else did, and usually they were women. It seemed that the average Christian’s responsibility was giving rather than going. Occasionally, what we called “a real live missionary” would come to our church; we would see in the flesh someone who had made great sacrifices.
Not until I attended seminary, did I ever hear a motivating missional message from God’s Word that stirred my heart and called me to ask, “What shall I do, Lord?” That response of Saul, who later became Paul, to the blazing revelation of the Living Christ was met by a call to action, “Rise, and go… and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do” (Acts 22:10). As a young man, I asked the Lord if He wanted me to go to the foreign field or to an unreached area of North America. I realized that it was vitally important that I “know His will,” but also “be a witness for Him to everyone” (Acts 22:14, 15).
This week, we are privileged to meet those who have been “appointed by the Righteous One” (Acts 22:14). These “real live missionaries” incarnate the gospel message. They need us to partner with them, but they also need to be refreshed by us. Believers are stained-glass windows that sparkle and shine when the sun beams through, but in the darkness beauty is only seen when there is an interior Light source. All of the wonderful people that we meet this week are authentically shining, but also need the Lord’s power and our encouragement to re-kindle or further fuel their fire. As Phillips Brook said, “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your task.”
Dr. Gordon Fort is our pulpit guest this weekend. Having served faithfully as an on-the-field missionary and as an IMB missionary supervisor and statesman, I can’t think of anyone better to rebuild our fire for Kingdom missions. When Gordon was with us two years ago, the Lord even spoke to young children about their need to be available to go anywhere...to anyone...at any time.
Who knows whether the Lord will say to us as He did to Paul, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21). Some of our church planter partners serve in far-reaching North American areas such as Alaska, Los Angeles and Tucson.
To be vitally involved in missions means that we get to know them, pray for them, help support them, and even go to serve with them. I am looking forward to an awesome week!