Imagine for a minute you are able to walk a day in the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, as she has just found out from God she has been chosen to bear the Messiah, the One long-awaited for by so many.
No doubt, you would feel fear, uncertainty, and maybe even doubt. There’s probably been a time in your life in which you have felt these same feelings. Possibly, there’s a situation which you are now facing about which you feel inadequate and scared. My husband and I are about to embark on a journey in which our task is to share the gospel with those who are, for the most part, directly opposed to it. Next year, by God’s grace, we will move overseas to the Middle East to a country which is ninety-nine percent Muslim, and we will endeavor to proclaim the gospel and see churches started. As we began raising support to move overseas, my mind was full of so many questions and uncertainties. “How will the people respond to the gospel?” “Will we feel alone?” “How long until God allows us to see someone saved?” “Is it a hard place?”
Anytime one faces a task or situation about which they know little it can seem daunting. When some perspective is shed on the situation and God’s promises are applied to our frail hearts, the situation can be drastically changed, and we can often be greatly encouraged about our once-feared task. For me, traveling around the States to raise support has been this perspective-changer. As those questions of uncertainty were swirling around in my head, God began to help me see His hand in my personal story and in the story of our anticipated country. At first, it was a bit discouraging as we travelled to churches telling them of our God-given desire to head to a country of 80 million people, most of whom professed to be adherents of Islam, and to have many believers in those churches respond with reactions of fear. It also didn’t help to hear of multiple bombings in the country and a possible major shift in the government which could mean a negative result for foreigners desiring to stay long term. These real fears caused my husband and I to begin praying for wisdom from God and for advice from friends currently serving in our desired country. We needed perspective only God could bring to us.
It’s amazing how our God knows what His children need and how He knows just how to give us what we ask for and desire. After speaking with an experienced friend on the field, my husband shared with me how now, more than ever, people in the country are open to hearing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bible requesters from all over the country are asking for a chance to speak with a Christian contact, yet this is a slight problem (in a good way!) because there aren’t enough Christian workers available to meet the need currently. My question was changed from “How will the people respond to the gospel?” to “How can we meet the need of all those asking about the Gospel?”
Just last month, God gave us a hugely encouraging day with some friends in another town here in Ohio. A couple who has been working in our desired country for a few years has returned to the States for a short furlough, and we were invited to a small gathering for worship and fellowship with them. I’m not sure what I was anticipating, but I certainly wasn’t ready for the enormous blessing God had in store for my uncertain heart. After we enjoyed a time of singing and prayer, the young couple began to share stories of God’s glory being made known in the country. The greatest blessing was hearing how God has been bringing many people to His Kingdom over the past few years, and recently several redeemed people in the country gathered together for a time of fellowship and worship. Not only that, but someone from a neighboring Middle-Eastern country had also been at that conference, and he encouraged the people of the country by telling them they had been used in getting the gospel to his closed country. Wow! Suddenly I knew I didn’t have to ask “Will we feel alone?” because there was a band of brothers and sisters waiting for more laborers to come and join in with them as they proclaimed the glorious gospel to the unbelievers in their country. We will certainly not be alone.
Each month we get to hear from two great families currently laboring in our desired country, and although they may not always have a report boasting of large numbers of souls being saved, they have incredible stories of lives being redeemed and people’s hearts being softened to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They tell of believers tasting the harsh reality of persecution, yet resilient in their efforts to spread the gospel with those around them. They tell of men and women, just a few years ago steeped in Islam and Atheism, currently making preparation to serve their beloved Savior in full-time ministry. They tell of churches being started in a city of millions where they know of only one or no other church at all. They tell of the amazing works God is doing in order to show forth His glory in this dark land.
Is the task before us still intimidating? Yes, at times. Yet, knowing the promises of my God and seeing these small glimpses of what He is doing, we are confident in Him and in His plans for us. God is giving us His grace for the task ahead to which He has called us. Even greater, we are confident in the plans He has for the great country we are headed to. If anything, these instances have taught us what God is doing in the country is so much grander than us and our plans. God is at work now and has been for a long time. We are not going to embark on a new journey which has never been done; we are joining in on God’s mission of seeing souls saved.
So, what does this mean for me and for you? As you step out in obedience to the place of ministry to which God has called you, know that you are not alone. Our God promises He is with us and we are in His hand (John 10:28, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand). God has already been preparing hearts to receive Him, and it is not us doing the work. Like Mary, we can be confident in the truths and works of our God (Luke 1:46-55). We can be confident in the task ahead of us because God has given us His gracious promises. Yes, there will be challenging days ahead, but our God always triumphs. As well, this truth should cause us to realize we are nothing special; God is the Master Designer weaving together a beautiful tapestry of His grace, and we are but a minute detail in His grand design. By His grace alone, our Father has allowed us to see His glory and to be a part of His work. Let us rejoice in these truths and give glory to our great God as He allows us to be used by Him!