Six, eight, ten years.
That’s often how long it has taken from when we first met someone who was interested in missions, and asking a lot of questions, to the time they first arrived on the mission field as missionaries.
A lot of people have come across our path over the years, even before our current ministry in mobilization.
No, it was not our voices that moved them. God alone moves people. We might have had a part in sharing God’s word and telling them about the opportunities and the costs… along with the many other people whom God brought into their lives.
We sought to intentionally encourage them to take the next step of faith by trusting in God’s written word. God moved their hearts toward people who have no hope.
Training is often a big part of the time gap between messengers hearing about a need and responding by faith to meet it. Learning from the experience of others can lead to an effective, fruitful ministry of serving other people. However, we have often seen years pass by where it seems that there is no movement toward completing the Commission.
“Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Hebrews 3:15 (See vs. 12-19)
This verse reminds me of the verses which state that God will replace the hearts of stone in Israel with hearts of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
Is a soft heart valuable to God?
Just this morning I read the context of the “provocation” in the wilderness. The Israelites, having been in the desert over a year after leaving Egypt, sent twelve men to acquire intelligence about the land of Canaan which God had promised to give them. Ten of the men reported that going into the promised land was too dangerous. Giants lived there. Two men told the people that God was with them, that they should not be afraid, and that they should go right in. The assembly chose to believe the ten, so none of them went in for nearly forty years.
The Israelites were at the threshold of receiving their inheritance, their Promised Land, about a year and half after leaving Egypt. Yet, because of their unwillingness to trust God, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years and their children took possession of their inheritance instead.
Jesus has told His disciples on the highest authority in heaven on earth to go to every ethnic group, preaching and baptizing, and to teach them to observe, or to do, all that Christ commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20) We have been given the word of reconciliation, the ministry of reconciliation, and the role of ambassadors to implore people to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians chapters 4 & 5)
Ten years is a long time; especially if you are one of the people groups who have been asking for a missionary all of that time.
According to Matthew 9, Jesus was moved to compassion by the crowds of people, responding to His ministry, who were scattered like sheep without a shepherd. His response was to bring them to the attention of His disciples. That is when He told them, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (vs 38)
The next thing Jesus did, in Matthew 10:1-6, is to empower His disciples. He taught them to trust the Holy Spirit, adopt heavenly rather than earthly values. Then He sent them to do His work. By faith. By believing Him.
I see a lot of parallels to His commissioning of us as His Church.
How will I respond to what He has commanded?
How is my heart? Will I adopt His values? Is His heart of compassion sufficient to move me?
Will I walk by faith? Is His word enough to prompt me to action?
How is my heart today?