ANOTHER LOOK AT MISSIONS
By: Sis. Dorothy Alvear
It is interesting to note how some people tend to shy away from the subject of missions as though it were a contagious disease of some kind. Yet this subject was of supreme importance to our Lord. There are very few saints in our churches today who would not be able to quote what is known as “The Great Commission”, as given in Mark 16:15-18. And an equally few would be ignorant of Jesus’ last words as recorded in Acts 1:8. There is no doubt that it was of utmost importance to the Lord that His disciples, then and now, be witnesses unto Him in ALL parts of the earth, preaching the Gospel to every human being (creature), with signs and wonders following the out-pouring of the Holy Ghost.
Among the many miracles that Jesus Himself performed, there is one which stands out as a clear illustration of what is involved in obeying these orders which were left to us. If you will read the passage in Mark 2:1-12 you will see it tells of the efforts of some men who endeavored to take their sick friend to where Jesus was preaching. From this simple account we can draw a few conclusions which clearly demonstrate mission work in general, both at home and abroad.
SEEING THE NEED
The Word of God speaks of, in several places, people who “have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not…” It is so necessary that saints of God concern themselves with SEEING the need of a lost and dying world, and HEARING their anguished cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended AND WE ARE NOT SAVED.” The friends of the sick man in the above mentioned scripture were very much aware that there was a need. We are not told how long this man had been afflicted, but obviously he was an invalid and could not go himself to where Jesus was. Too many of God’s children have taken the attitude of Cain, asking “Am I my brother’s keeper? Why should the fate of people in other countries be my responsibility? They have their own religions that they are comfortable with. Why should I do anything about changing their ideas or customs? Besides, I have too many problems of my own to be worrying about people in other parts of the world.”
Folks who think and talk like this are not aware of the fact that those”other religions” are precisely what has kept the biggest percent of the world in bondage to ignorance and poverty, greed and corruption, and have brought about the so-called “third-world” countries. Those “other religions” have kept people in darkness, with no hope of salvation, doomed to eternity in hell.
Jesus said “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields…the HARVEST truly is GREAT, but the WORKERS are FEW.” (John 4:35, Luke 10:2) Jesus was constantly aware of the needs of the people. He was moved with compassion, seeing them as sheep with no shepherd (Mat. 9:36). So we need to take some long and earnest looks at the conditions of our present world, and ask God to give us concerned and compassionate hearts.
MAKING A MOVE TO DO SOMETHING
Being aware of the need is only the first step. The friends of the sick man not only saw his pitiful condition; they decided to do something about it. When Amy Carmichael heard, to her dismay, that the little girls of India were being sold to the temples to eventually become temple prostitutes serving the priests, she dedicated her entire life to rescuing as many girls as she could, providing a home for them and teaching them in the ways of God. George Mueller wept to see the homeless urchins of London and set out to build orphanages to care of them. Hundreds and thousand of missionaries have looked out on fields ready to harvest. They have heard the plaintive strains of the hymn, “My house is full, but my fields are empty….who will go and work for
me today?” They set forth to preach the Gospel, build churches, hospitals, schools, translate the Bible into indigenous languages, and in everything holding high the banner of Christ and lifting up His glorious Name.
When the children of Israel rejoiced upon hearing the book of the law of God read to them after having been put away for such a long time, they were beside themselves with joy. Nehemiah and Ezra said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared.” (Neh. 8:10) In other words they were to enjoy their blessings, sing their songs, have a good time, but not forget those who are not so privileged. They needed to participate in the blessings too.
The men of our story in Mark may have said to themselves, “Well, we just can’t stand around here looking at our friend in his helpless situation. We need to rally around and get him to Jesus so he can be healed.” And that takes us to the next important step in mission work.
There were no ambulances in Capernaum…no, not even a gurney anywhere to be found to transport that sick man. There was only one way to get that man to Jesus and it meant each friend would have to grab a corner of his mat. The Bible says the man’s bed was “borne of four” to the house where Jesus was.
If we are going to get the lost and dying millions of the world to Jesus, it will involve a joint effort. The Apostle Paul understood this very well when he said, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:14,15). There must be those who are willing to go to the “front lines”; those who help finance their going and what they will try to do; those who must pray for them without ceasing; and those who will give words of cheer and comfort along the way. If someone fails to do his part, the work is greatly hindered and progress is slowed down and often comes to a standstill.
EVERY CHILD OF GOD WHOULD BE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY AND EARNESTLY INVOLVED IN MISSIONS!
No one can be excused. Everyone’s part is of equal importance. And everyone stands to reap an eternal reward. King David once fought a battle and took back a great amount of spoil. Some of those who had accompanied him felt that the ones who had not gone to battle should not share in the spoils. David made it very clear that “…as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff; they shall part alike.” (I Sam. 30:24). This was made a law to be in effect from that time on.
No one can boast of having done more than the other. “If we all pull together”, as the little chorus goes, “how happy we’ll be.” No one is trying to make a name for himself, but working in a UNITED EFFORT to get people to Jesus because we know that He is their only hope.
Nevertheless, with all the combined efforts of the men in our story, and even getting to the actual house where Jesus was, they encountered a serious problem and it was obvious they were going to need more than just a willingness to work together. They were going to need a big chunk of DETERMINATION.
When they got their friend to that house, they found it completely crowded…people spilling out the door and trying to look in through the windows. It may be that one of them suggested going back home, seeing there was nothing they could do to get their friend in the house. If any of them did, he was apparently outvoted, since we read that they found a way to circumvent the problem. They just climbed the stairway that went up to the flat-topped roof of that house, made a opening somehow, and lowered the bed with their sick friend right down in front of Jesus.
It is appalling to think of how the work of God has suffered terrible set-backs because of a lack of dogged determination on someone’s part. How many battles have been lost, how many souls unclaimed for God because someone was too quick to give up in face of the obstacles.
This is what happened to the children of Israel when the 12 spies were sent into Canaan to see what the land was like. When they returned with their reports, ten of those spies gave such discouraging descriptions of the situation that the Israelites completely lost their courage. They murmured against Moses, and fussed and wished they had never left Egypt. When Caleb and Joshua suggested going up to possess it by the help of God, knowing the Lord would be with them, they were almost stoned to death. Because of this lack of faith and determination, those Israelites were condemned to die in the wilderness. Only Caleb,
“…because he had another spirit…and hath followed (God) fully,” and Joshua were spared and made it to the promised land.
There are many obstacles and unsurmountable odds to be faced in rescuing souls from the power of Satan in other parts of the world (in ANY part of the world, for that matter) Satan is not going to give up his captives without a tremendous struggle. It will be total warfare. It is not the weak and fearful saints of God who will be up to the task, but those with dauntless courage, like the prophets and apostles of old. They “ran the race with patience, looking unto Jesus…who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2).
FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN GOD
When the friends of the sick man let him down through the roof, the Bible tells us that Jesus looked up and “saw their faith.” Without hesitating, without asking a myriad of questions, without reprimanding them for this intrusion, he looked on that sick man, told him his sins were forgiven and commanded him to rise up, pick up his bed and go home.
Does God see faith when He looks at us? Does He see that unshaking confidence in His promises as we set out to obey Him? Are we thoroughly convinced that He really is with us even unto the end of the world? Do we have the assurance that as we go forth and preach everywhere, the Lord will work with us, confirming the word with signs following, as He did with his disciples? Can we believe that He would never ask us to go anywhere, or do anything except He go with us and fully equip us? Can we really believe that “with God ALL things are possible?” That is what it is going to take to see results.
Not only does Jesus need to see our faith, but this faith needs to be obvious to those we are trying to bring to Him. They need to understand that nothing…no false religion, no so-called god, no form of government is more sure and powerful than the God who we proclaim. This is the God who created the universe and all man-kind…who sustains it all by His mighty hand. This is the God who calms the waves and the wind, who opens blind eyes and raises the dead. This is the God who declared “I am the way, the truth and the life,” and the God who cries “Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” (Is. 45:22). The people we are trying to take to Jesus must know that we believe in this God with all our heart.
Oh, may Jesus look at us and see our faith, as we endeavor to declare His power and lift up His mighty Name to the nations of the world. Let us consider every phase of this great challenge, as we have outlined it here, and make sure that we are being diligent and faithful in whatever part of the task of missions that falls to us so that we might be used of God “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18).
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