Thursday, June 19, 2014
“Therefore go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28: 19-20
An update on John: as you can see from the picture at right, his second injection went much more smoothly than the first. The nurse got the vein the first time, and John asked her to marry him. I’ve never been that afraid of needles, but hey, in Africa, that can mean a lot. He is much better today although his cough is lingering, but he is sleeping through the night for the first time in a week, so we are encouraged, thank you for your prayers. It is your prayers that led me to use the verses above today. Some think that the Great Commission only applies to those who go to foreign missions, but they are wrong. In Rogers, Arkansas, there is a Lutheran Church that has this sign facing you as you drive out of their parking lot and back onto the streets of Rogers: “You are now entering the mission field.” They are right, of course. I do NOT believe as some organized denominations have concluded that if 93% of the world has heard about Jesus Christ, there is no more need for missions. I don’t see any quota in the words of Christ in Matthew. There are ten million people in Tanzania who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, but if there were just one, our job would not be done. I also believe that you participate in the Great Commission no matter what role you play in the expansion of the Kingdom. Everyone cannot go to every country. We could not do what we do here were it not for the hundreds or thousands who pray for us, who support us financially (both individually and as churches), and who tell others of our work and that of other missionaries. It applies to all short-term mission trips as well, and not just to those who go. I have a friend (at least I think of him that way) who does barbecues to raise money for kids and adults to go and do mission. He doesn’t go, but without his help—the missions wouldn’t take place. Cooking barbecue may not sound like part of the Great Commission, but it most certainly is. There are prayer teams who pray for missionaries both long and short term. There is a doctor in a small town who helps us with the medications we can’t get here, and he couldn’t help at all without a pharmacist and staff who fill the prescriptions and get them sent to us. Those who give money to buy a pregnant goat for a widow are also part of the Great Commission as are those who send us birthday wishes on Facebook and keep our spirits up. There are a thousand ways to help, and there are thousands who do just that. We are only a budget item at two churches, yet individuals and churches still give what they can when they can. When we had the Australian Anglican mission group here, long after they left, we kept finding one-inch high, little koala bears stuck on the branches of our bushes and trees. Each one we found made us smile, and each one of those little koalas was also a part of the Great Commission. The only people who fail to heed the words of our Lord, are those who never even think about expanding the Kingdom and can’t be bothered to think about others who do not know Christ. We are now, have been, and will always be grateful for all those who send us garlic salt, Bibles in Swahili, bicycles for our evangelists, a hair dryer for my wife—it all counts. If it helps us or any missionaries directly or indirectly, if it is intentional, it counts. We cannot thank you enough for helping us spread the hope and peace that only Christ can bring. And thank you for your prayers for John. He felt them, and we felt them.