One of the great privileges of serving the Lord, has been for me to be a member of the executive board of ABWE International. This mission agency provides opportunities, resources and services to over one thousand missionaries in 71 countries worldwide.
I have just returned home from a board meeting at our international headquarters in Harrisburg, PA. We engaged in three days of prayer, strategic planning and receiving reports of what God is doing through his missionaries around the world.
The Lord is still calling out workers for his spiritual harvest. These people are being sent by their churches eager to do evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. Mission boards such as ABWE support those sending churches by enabling their missionaries to accomplish God’s mission.
They are being called by God to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ through relationship-building, medicine, education, literature, youth ministries, leadership development, and a host of other creative initiatives. They are being called to incarnational ministry.
That is what I spoke about when I addressed the board in a devotional message on the first day of our meetings. My talk was based upon Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus was informing his disciples that they were being sent into the world on the same mission and with the same motives as his own(John 20:21).
The Lord used the title “Son of Man” for himself to identify with humanity. In the same way his missionaries seek to identify with the people to whom they go, learning their language and immersing themselves in their culture, yet without sacrificing their personal identity and authenticity.
The Lord Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Likewise his disciples are called to ministries of servanthood. The word “serve” Jesus used was the word for the lowliest household slave. I wonder how many of Jesus’ 21st century disciples see themselves this way? Someone has said that the test of whether a Christian has the attitude of a servant is how he reacts when he is treated like one!
Then the Lord spoke of his death. In my talk I reminded the group of the sacrifices of missionaries like Adoniram Judson who, when he proposed marriage to Ann Hasseltine said, “Give your hand to me, and go with me to the jungles of Asia, and there die with me in the cause of Christ.” We remembered together the deaths of missionary Roni Bowers and her daughter Charity whose missionary flight was shot out of the sky in 2001 in a case of mistaken identity. It was a drug interdiction gone wrong and our ABWE missionaries died.
What a tragedy, we say! But isn’t that what missionaries sign on for when they say “yes” to the Great Commission of Jesus to give their lives for the gospel? In fact all Christians are called to die to the world, to die to self, to die to sin, with the real possibility of dying physically for Christ.
Several years ago I wrote the following lines, imagining a response to the call of God.
Not Me, God!
Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say “pray.” After all, you’re the Lord of the harvest. What can my prayers do, when it’s all up to you?
Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “share.” After all, you own it all anyway. What can my giving do, when it’s all up to you?
Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “go.” After all, there’s so much to do here. What can my going do, when it’s all up to you?
Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “tell.” After all, I am shy and ungifted. What can my speaking do when it’s all up to you?
Not me. Surely you don’t mean me when you say, “love.” After all, I have only so much love. But wait — I think I see, the word I speak, the place I seek, the wealth I share, the act of prayer, the love I give … is what you gave to me.
Pastor Randy Faulkner