One by one they’re stepping out –from local churches, from Bible colleges and Bible institutes. They are young couples, families, single men and women. They are dedicated individuals from all walks of life, stepping on faith to obey the command of Christ to make disciples among the nations.
It’s been enthralling for us to see fruit for our labors, having spent these last 15 years beckoning believers to take God’s Word to unreached peoples. …But it’s not all been encouraging. At times our work has been downright discouraging, especially when we see folks responding to the call of God, only to have their passions squelched by well-intentioned believers who discourage them from going.
“Stay here… we’ll invest time & teaching to assure you’ve really heard the call of God.”
“Look what you’ll be missing out on if you go there; stay here, make a name for yourself.”
“You have a good job. Why not let others go and you stay here and support them?”
Our work is difficult enough; the enemy of our souls convincingly tells us to ‘leave the unreached alone… they’re happy the way they are.’ Are they, really? What if we were living in their destitute condition… would we not want someone to bring the gospel of Christ to us?
We’ve poured our lives into preaching the constraining love of Christ and the ‘go’ of the gospel which still motivates ‘called ones’ to become ‘sent ones.’ I wonder how many unreached people will remain unreached as a result of someone discouraging another from going?
As we survey new areas where the gospel’s never gone I ask myself, “Why has no one ever come here?” Is it really all that hard to reach these people? Sure it takes special skills and specified training, but we and others can provide that.
Could it be that those who resist the hardest actually may be the very ones God is calling onto the harvest fields of the world? We object with “Oh, I couldn’t go there!” or “I don’t have what it takes.” –Like God isn’t capable to prepare us for the work He’s given us to do. If he could take a band of crusty old fisherman and a rowdy tax collector to turn the world upside down in his day, then surely we should make ourselves available to His command. …Or is it that we don’t want to?
I had my ‘don’t-want-to’ challenged many years ago. It was at a time when I was in the work-a-day world, building air conditioners at a day job and reaching people in my community for Jesus in the evenings. That was good, so I thought, until I considered what value an air conditioner would do someone destined for hell. Moreover, I came face to face with the question “Am I really obeying the command to make disciples among the nations?” That really jarred my thinking.
The more I read of scripture the more I began to realize the immensity of the job. There were millions who needed to hear about Jesus. But we were just one couple; what difference could we make? We didn’t have a lot of money to send others, but we did what we could… and we prayed!
And amid our praying and serving we sensed the personal responsibility to go. What? Us? Go? Go where?
We didn’t even think about those questions when we realized the command to make disciples was to all believers. Sure, we were doing that here, but there were lots of people doing that here and so few going ‘there.’ We knew we couldn’t stay here; we had to go there… wherever ‘there’ was. I think the Apostle Paul gave us a clear window into the heart of God when he told how he strived to preach the gospel in regions where the message never had been declared. That’s where we wanted to go… but it would take specialized training.
After extensive research we found that NTM was one such group going to unreached peoples. Then we learned just how isolated these unreached people were; it was shocking. But shocking as it was, we knew they needed to hear about Jesus. We felt privileged to be among those who would tell them… but we needed training.
NTM was able to provide the tools we needed for missionary work –a biblical foundation, New Testament church planting principles, and a boatload of language & cultural acquisition skills and lots of practical insights. It was intense.
It was during our training days that I realized this was an investment of our lives, not for any return we would receive, but the bringing of souls to leave at the feet of Jesus. We did a lot of reading and research about areas of the world without a gospel witness. Somehow the Lord pressed upon our hearts the country of Papua New Guinea. A country only the size of California, PNG has more than 860 languages. At that time, more than half of them remained unreached with the gospel. …So that’s where we went to serve.
Today, many of those language groups are still unreached with the gospel, although NTM has made it their business to reach as many as possible. That work carries on there today and in other regions of the world where the gospel has never been declared. It’s a bit staggering to think that there are still some 2,500 people groups who never heard the gospel, never held a Bible, and what’s most sad to say is that they don’t know Jesus.
We’ve been at this work a long time and it still thrills our hearts to receive news that yet another tribe has stepped from their darkness, into the marvelous light of the gospel –from death unto life. But many more die while waiting to hear. Is it their fate to face eternity with no hope and without Christ? …Or is it my failure to be obedient to the command?
We’ve been given a job to do. Somebody’s gotta’ do it. Who’s it gonna’ be?
This job of getting the gospel to people who never heard of Jesus weighs heavily upon our hearts. We go to sleep at night in a comfy bed with clean sheets and clean hearts, knowing full well as believers in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. But we know of countless tribesmen who would trade all the clean sheets in the world, if they had them, for the assurance of eternity with Jesus. But clean sheets don’t buy clean hearts. Only the liberating message of the gospel can change them. …And that’s a story worth repeating.
Thanks for listening to my heart.
Dave Hilt, Nat’l. Rep for NTM