Those Who Love Him
A word came to me recently concerning these missionaries that we have been called to minister to. That word is found in James 2:5, "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"
As, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I pondered this passage, this thought was brought to me, "Is there such thing as a rich missionary?" Certainly, I have never met one. I know that C.T. Studd, who was independently wealthy, gave away all his riches to serve on the mission field.
A rich missionary comes across as an oxymoron. Yet, a missionary rich in faith is a reasonable declaration. Having served as a missionary for over three years, I am aware of their sacrifices.
- There is a leaving of goods. It is impossible to take to the mission fields the wares of the United States. I still remember the garage sale, the selling of items such as a refrigerator, washer, dryer, lamps, vacuums: the things that would only be a burden on the field.
- There is a leaving of the potential of goods. There are certain items on the mission field that are absolutely unattainable. There are items in the States that make life so easy that simply won't work in another place, or cannot be transferred.
- There is the leaving of the security of goods. It is amazing how secure ownership of a house can make you feel. Yet, most missionaries do not have that security. They pay rent for where they live and rent their meeting place. Often the country itself forbids ownership of property to missionaries.
- There is a leaving of family. No longer can mom or dad come immediately to the rescue or meet you at the emergency room. There is a constant ache of missing someone who is very loved. Dependency on people is laid aside.
- There is a leaving of advancement or promotion. In a job, one advances in salary, prestige, and benefits the longer that one serves in a particular job. The mission field offers no such dividends.
- There is a leaving of the security of a monthly income. It is one of the hardest things when the support check is late.
- There is a leaving of being considered by others. When you are at home, people see you, call you, and pray for you. But the missionary is often forgotten in means of support, prayer, and consideration.
- There is a deficit of resources. I read an e-mail from a young man who is seeking to conduct a Bible college without desks, pencils, paper, books, classrooms, and other items conducive to learning. Yet, he has students!
- There is a deficit of convenience. There is not the luxury to just go out to get the needed supplies. The missionary is limited by the culture, the resources of that culture, and of course, by finances.
- There is a deficit of experience. On the mission field, everything is new and different. It is another culture. I will never forget the scolding I got from a merchant at the marketplace when I picked out my own fruit at his stand. Oops!
Obviously, the missionary has to accept these deficits. He chooses poverty and the unknown in order to serve an unknown people for the sake of unknown fruit in an unknown land with unknown ways! The missionary chooses the unknown because the call of God is greater to him than riches or security. He chooses faith. The physical deficits he accepts only make him richer in faith. Faith works!
The second lesson that the Lord ministered to me was found in verse 22. "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" Faith has action. Our profession in Christ carries with it certain ramifications of action. The principles of faith (what I believe) set the course of my actions and compel me totake those actions.
I obey the Bible because I believe (I know) that every word is true and "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). I don't see immediate rewards to my obedience. I continue to obey because I am convinced of its veracity.
I seek to do the will of God because I know He lives. I seek His will because it is the will of a Father who knows the number of hairs on my head, whose compassions never fail, who has a multitude of good thoughts toward me, who is acquainted with all my ways, and who redeemed me with the precious blood of His only begotten Son. I believe these truths and I respond by a surrender of my life to the will of God!
I believe the promises of God. So I wait. Often my life seems to be one of inactivity. I pray. Often while I am praying, I am coaxed by well-intentioned friends, and circumstances, to take hold of action. However, waiting on the Lord is an action. It takes more self-discipline than fighting. I hate suspense and waiting always carries with it that element of anxiety. There is the unknown. We have to trust the outcome to God and His forces!
The promises of God also move me to spiritual activity. I pray. I read my Bible. I meditate on the Word of God. I sing praise. I offer thanksgiving to God. I fellowship. I share my hope with others. I do these not only because I love Jesus, but also because I know that they have great reward! Every true promise has a reward.
I believe in the credibility of the One who made the promise. I believe in the power of the One who has promised He is able. I believe in the resources of the One who promised. I believe in the omniscience and compassion of the One who has promised!
Faith affects my attitude. Faith affects my priorities. Faith affects my actions. Faith permeates my life!