“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:10-20 NKJV).
We had a great time last month, speaking and sharing the Gospel with numerous people. Don’t forget to pray for all those people that we spoke to, or handed tracts to. Pray that God’s word will not return void, but lead to Godly repentance!
I remember when I was a lad of Sunday School age in the 70’s, I used to attend a Bible club run by an older couple by the name of Bob & Mary Penning.
The Penning’s were retired overseas missionaries, sent out from our fellowship in Christchurch. They were the sweetest people you could ever meet. Both of them were barely 5 feet tall, and they had a beautiful heart for lost, and for children. In the Bible club we did lots of cool things, like playing games, and singing. I remember learning the old song called:
“Did you ever talk to God above?”.
I particularly loved it when they opened up the old felt board and told us stories. These were mainly Bible stories. But occasionally they would throw in a story about the missionary children that lived in faraway places, and the struggles they would have adapting to a strange culture. We would all watch with googly eyes and romantic hearts.
But I will always remember them for one particular phrase they used to say:
“You don’t become a missionary by crossing the sea, but by seeing the cross”.
I’m pretty sure they never coined the phrase themselves. Now, I love little ditties that can convey simple truths in short sound bites – they suit my short attention span. And this phrase is definitely one of those for me.
So often, as soon we read (or re-read) the Great Commission, fear overtakes us. This is because we have conjured up a romantic dream (or nightmare) that our Christian life from here on in comprises of disposing of all our earthly possessions, and buying a one-way ticket to Nowhereville, with nothing but a knapsack over our shoulder, and a Bible in our hand.
This can be, and is, the call of God on some – but for a vast majority of us, it’s just not the case.
But if the call to become an overseas missionary hasn’t been placed on our hearts, we needn’t feel inadequate or discouraged.
We read in our verses in Ephesians about all the essential armour we need to equip ourselves to live our Christian lives. Once we have donned our armour, there was no command to go anywhere, just stay in our spiritual armour.
However, a Christian still has responsibilities; a life to live –
an occupation to pursue, to put bread on the table, to raise a family;
a lesson to learn, to earn that degree, to extend those career opportunities;
a child to raise, life lessons to pass down, to teach how to behave and to learn.
All these circumstances of your life that God sovereignly weaves together become your ‘world’ that you go into.
This then, becomes your mission field –
the car you ferry your family around in, the train you commute on;
the desk you type at, the site you work on;
the supermarket you shop at, the café you meet friends at;
the classmates you play with, the students you study with.
Friends, this is our world; and this is our mission field. Gospel opportunities abound in this little world of ours, but we often miss them because of our misguided utopian fantasy of what a missionary should look like.
But there is no need to panic. We have our spiritual armour. And everywhere we go in this world – whether it be 10 metres or 10 time zones from our front doorstep – as long as we are equipped with our armour, the location doesn’t matter. Every direction we look, we will always find people in dire need of Christ to reconcile their sinful lives.
So, do you really want to be a missionary? Put on your spiritual armour, open the front door, and step out…there you go!
We should never be despondent if God has not blessed us with a call to cross the seas to minister the Gospel.
We should instead be thankful and privileged that he has granted us access to see the cross, and compelled to give Him glory through our obedience to evangelise.
The passing of Jim Carroll
You may remember the story I shared about Jim, the elderly gentleman who sold Maori bread at the Naenae shops, and with whom I had the privilege to witness to. Sadly, just a couple of weeks ago, Jim passed away. I saw Jim in the mall just the week before.
Jim was a lovely man – but unfortunately, the day I spoke to him, he rejected the Gospel. I will never know this side of heaven if anything I said or gave him caused him to repent before he took his last breath. All I know is that Jim heard the truth that day – and all I could do was pass on this truth, and pray that God would grant him repentance. The rest was between him and God. The mall will be a sadder place without Jim’s smile, and hearty laugh.
I’ll see you at my place at a later time of 10:30 next Saturday, for prayer, before our special Christmas Outreach at the mall!