Wisdom from a veteran engineer missionary as he reminisces on working with nationals in a poverty stricken nation.
“When I showed up here, a young guy with a lot of energy and no gray hair, I approached problems like an engineer. This is the problem and this is what needs to be done. So let’s figure out how to do it and get on with it. It has taken a long time to understand dignity. People matter. People are all that matter.
When you give someone something, they have to give you something back. There is no such thing as a free lunch. A person who doesn’t have anything to give back ends up giving you a piece of their dignity or self esteem. You have to be very careful giving out to people unless it is someone you have built a relationship with.
All these deals where people come to poverty stricken places and want to give out food or clothes or money or whatever to people who really are in need or appear to be, aren’t really giving anyone anything. They are purchasing the dignity and self-esteem of people who might not have it to spare.
People that have been trying hard and maybe had some bad breaks don’t always have a lot of options. They have to take what is offered, how it’s offered. But in the end they end up hating themselves or the people giving things to them.
When you are in a place like this where people are poor and you are doing projects and have some money in your pocket, you have to be very careful.
You are here as a guest to help people get on their feet and do it themselves. Many have been beaten down and convinced that there is no hope for them or their country. A little encouragement and helping people help themselves goes a long way. If you realty do a good job of helping people help themselves, it might escape them that you helped somewhere along the way. If you are living for the buzz of having someone bow and scrape in appreciation and thanks, you might be disappointed, if that is what you are in it for.
Every individual is made in the image of God. Some around here haven’t heard that one yet and need to be told, and that they are valuable, important and capable of doing something. So valuable, in fact, that God sent His only Son to die for them.
We Americans are the richest nation in the history of civilization with the most disposable income. As American Christians, we have the responsibility to share the Gospel with those who haven’t heard, who might hear better when they aren’t on a six mile roundtrip hike getting water. And to our materially poorer brothers and sisters in Christ, that bucket of water is a lot lighter if you get on the other side and help carry it.”
I often heard Dr. Oswald Smith speak on missions. I remember him telling the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. When the crowds were hungry for food and the disciples could find nothing but a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish, Jesus insisted, “Give ye them to eat.!” Then Jesus took that little lunch, blessed it, multiplied it and fed over 5000 people.He purposely told the story with a flaw. He told of how Jesus’ disciples went back and forth among the people in the front rows feeding them until they were stuffed, ignoring the masses of people in the back rows. Then he would ask the congregation, “Is that what Jesus did? Of course not!” Then he would correct the story. The disciples moved through the entire crowd, making sure EVERYONE was fed.” Then Dr. Smith would ask the provocative question, “WHY SHOULD ANYONE HEAR THE GOSPEL TWICE BEFORE EVERYONE HAS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR IT ONCE?
“The mission of the church is summed up in Jesus’ Great Commission “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 What is the Gospel? “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” II Cor 5:19-21
Jesus, the holy, spotless Son of God came into this world as the Lamb of God, to die on a cross and shed His blood for our sins. Three days later He rose from the dead, thereby guaranteeing that He was indeed the Son of God and that His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father. Those who receive The Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are given God’s gift of eternal life and an eternal Home in Heaven. Those who reject the Saviour remain lost in their sins and are headed for Hell. Paul states the Gospel clearly in I Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel…..how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Christians are to faithfully carry out Christ’s Great Commission. The Good News of salvation must be declared to everyone, starting with our neighbors and carried to the ends of the earth to every tribe and nation. The last words of Jesus before He ascended back to Heaven are recorded in Act 1:7-8 When the disciples were asking Him questions concerning prophecy, He replied to them, ” It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own authority, but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That and that alone is the Great Commission.
True, the fulfillment of the Great Commission involves a huge support team just as a nation’s military operations involves a huge support team on the front and in the homeland. It involves the sacrificial financial and prayer support of God’s people back home. It involves translating the Bible into other languages so that all may have the Gospel in their own language. It involves teaching people to read, feeding starving people, healing the sick, and teaching people how to care for their own physical needs. However, it is important to understand that if we teach people to read and help them medically, but we never get around to giving them the Gospel; then we have failed in carrying out Christ’s Great Commission. We have simply made it possible for educated, healthy people to continue on their way to Hell. Certainly we are not called to Westernize people in other lands; rather we are to reach them in their own cultures.
With His Great Commission Jesus gives us the promise of His presence, His authority and His power to carry it out. For two thousand years the church has made some progress in fulfilling this responsibility; but in the past century , with the advent of radio and television and with the aid of airplanes and computers, the Church has made even greater progress in reaching the world for Christ.
In this age of nationalism, the old fashioned missionary method of developing a mission station and building a work centered around the missionary does not work. The key to the spread of the Gospel centers in the training of a national, indigenous self-supporting, self-propagating church. The Apostle Paul taught this method to Timothy in II Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.”
In places where this principle is being practiced, churches are multiplying and thriving under the leadership of their own people. In recent years there has been a great influx of foreigners into our country. Our colleges and universities, are overflowing with foreign students. Many of these foreigners live in our communities, providing one of the greatest opportunities ever to evangelize the world. The Church needs to be aware and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity of reaching the world for Christ right in our own backyard. Not every Christian is called or equipped to go to a foreign land, but every Christian can be a missionary as we live a consistent Christian life reaching out in friendship to our neighbors and friends. We can all help finance the work of reaching the world for Christ as we make it a priority in our life. Certainly every faithful church should be making the evangelization of the world a priority in their stewardship. God not only calls missionaries to a life of sacrifice; He calls every Christian to live a sacrificial life so that the Great Commission can be fulfilled in our lifetime. We are not responsible for past generations nor future generations, but for reaching our own generation for Christ.
Though we do not know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return; we do know from Scripture that when this task of world evangelization has been accomplished and Christ’s Church is complete, Jesus has promised us that He will return. “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14 Humanly speaking, the accomplishment of our mission seems utterly impossible, considering the population of this world and the opposition of Satan. Jesus said in Mark 10:27 “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” He never gives us a command without giving us the power to obey it. If Christ is going to have the final victory, and He will; then our mission IS possible and it WILL be accomplished. Not everyone will be saved, but everyone will have the opportunity to be saved. Not every Christian will choose to be involved in The Great Commission and make the sacrifices necessary for its accomplishment; but those who do will be well rewarded.
Christian friend, in the light of Christ’s Great Commission given to every Christian. Have you considered where you fit into the big picture of reaching the world for Christ? To be an obedient Christian you must be involved. There are no deferments in the Lord’s Army.
G. Campbell Morgan in his commentary on the Gospel of John, shares this insight concerning evangelism and missions.
Speaking to His disciples after He had dealt with the spiritual needs of the Samaritan woman in John 4, Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “You say four months and then cometh harvest. Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the field, that they are white, already unto harvest.”
If those disciples had been appointed a commission of enquiry as to the possibilities of Christian enterprise in Samaria I know exactly the resolution they would have passed. The resolution would have been, ” Samaria unquestionably needs our Master’s message; but it is not ready for it. There must first be ploughing, and then sowing, and then waiting. It is needy, but it is not ready.
That is exactly what He said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then.” Four months meant ploughing and sowing and waiting. But He said, you are wrong. These fields are white already unto harvest.” The region that looks most hopeless is ready, if you will reap.
Today we speak of some fields as difficult, and almost hopeless. Christ still says that such fields are white unto harvest.” The most difficult fields are white unto harvest. Our business is to put in the sickle and reap….. The trouble is that the laborers are not ready.