Heard a story about someone who even as a teenager, heard stories of missionaries who would go to a country and labour for fifty years without seeing any visible results. He said that would never happen to him – for him, smooth sailing. He would be unusual, and be a seed-sower; to do the work of few are willing to do. So what better place for the seed to die, than in the Arab world? With no one to deploy him, he had to find his own crack and crawl into it.
So he crawled, very fearfully at first. Then, faced with the harvest being seemingly so far away he started serving faithfully, but without faith – he had lost his vision for a vital growing church to emerge. It is faith that pleases God. The eye of faith will stare down defeat and pain and triumphantly affirm that one day there will be a great harvest.
With that change in expectation the church did grow. From a small seed to the first-fruits of the harvest there was a birth of a church.
He went with three motivations – reach the unreached, preach a pure gospel and to lay good foundations and work for a living so that he would not be a burden to others, a credible witness and to conduct ministry free of charge.
His father had taught him the last point. If the emerging church sees only the example of paid pastors, instead of deacons and elders as respected members of the local labour force and community, temptation might come by that model. In such cases the pursuit of money often creates jealousy, greed and other problems. At the same time the world will often say that people became Christians mainly for the sake of money – question of credibility for both the person and the church.
So today he mentioned some of his fears. A few of his colleagues have had to return home, and a few have died. However, he mentioned that he had gained a family, close friends, and acceptance by Arabs. He has seen God at work in a very hard place. He feels the hardest thing would be to leave. He will be a small, but significant part of the work of God – to slog away in faith, to pioneer where few others are working – that’s what makes him want to continue.
He covets God’s approval and the joy of one day seeing a great harvest that he had a tiny part of working towards. He, for present joy and for the joy that’s set before him, wants to give his life too, in the harvest field.