“I have had the privilege of preaching the gospel on every continent in most of the countries of the world. And I have found that when I present the simple message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with authority, quoting from the very Word of God—he takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.”
– Billy Graham
Every morning, I wake up to the reality of foreign missions that I call joyful sorrow. The sun rises in the distance, creating a vibrant backdrop, highlighting the minaret close to our house – a tower connected to the mosque, from which the call to prayer is played throughout each day. From my bedroom window, I see the mosques in our neighborhood and the deceived ones walking on the sidewalk below, and I am reminded of the gigantic task at hand. A task that is humanly impossible apart from the grace and guidance of the Lord. There are millions upon millions of people living here and what sorrow I feel that most of them do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But there is also grace upon grace to continue loving, seeking, trusting, and depending on the God who has called me here for a reason far greater than I can understand. Yes there is grief as I see the sad faces pass me by without even a glance in my direction, but as the Spirit holds and redirects my thoughts, the eyes of my heart that are ever looking for His Light in this darkness, see joyful hope because I know God is at work here. Even if I don’t see it in my lifetime, I know souls will be rescued among these people.
Every morning tends to be the same. I arrive at class and shortly after, my teacher walks through the door. I see her eyes that lack the sparkle of joy my sisters in Christ possess, and I feel the heaviness of her heart that does not love Jesus the Messiah. This Muslim girl is not afraid to talk about religion and without fail, she stretches me and challenges me in my language learning when she gets riled up and wants to talk about how our beliefs differ.
Today, after my mind was weary from hours of language class and my tiredness of waking up early with the baby was setting in, my teacher heard another classmate joke that I needed one more child. She looked me directly in the eyes and said with full conviction that I should not do it. When I told her that it might be fun to have one more and that I want to be a stay-at-home mom, she passionately told me that I was not right. She repeatedly told me that I should work and should not stay home. I didn’t understand why she was so upset, but then it all made sense as she exposed her fear and broke my heart simultaneously.
“What happens if you and your husband separate?,” she asked me in all seriousness.
I paused while trying to understand her fast speech in the language that I am still tirelessly attempting to learn…
“That won’t happen,” I told her, to the best of my ability.
She continued speaking at me, rather than with me, about how life happens and I need to be prepared.
In these moments, anxiety wells up inside as I barely scratch the surface of just how difficult it is to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. As my fellow sister in Christ who is also a classmate chimed in and tried to explain how Christian marriage works, I took a moment to gather my thoughts. I have so much that I want to tell her and so few language skills at the level necessary to do so.
I again tried to tell her that my husband and I will never separate but that answer did not satisfy her. As I listened to her reasoning as to why I needed a plan to take care of myself, my desire for her salvation never left my mind. It was in that moment of beginning to feel an increased urgency for her salvation that I finally admitted to myself that I will never save her – that I can’t save her.
I was beginning to walk a fine line, and God’s grace was able to guide me in the path of a healthy urgency for my teacher’s rescuing.
Misguided urgency turns into self-reliant urgency.
Self-reliant urgency becomes frantic anxiety, headed in the direction of hopelessness, because you and I will never save someone in our own strength. It truly is hopeless.
Spirit-filled urgency is fueled by hope and driven by a trusting dependence on The Lord of the Harvest. Spirit-led urgency accepts His sovereignty, all the while actively and persistently sharing the gospel as He opens doors.
As we continued talking, I quickly ran out of vocabulary and out of ideas as to how to explain what I meant when I said “for better or for worse” almost 8 years ago. As my classmate still attempted to tell her that we will never get divorced, I felt the Spirit’s gentle reminder to rely on the Word – the perfect, unfailing, eternal Word of God that promises to never return void. I opened up the Bible app on my phone to 1 Corinthians in her language…
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I gave her the Word and told her that this is what my husband and I believe and this is why we will not get divorced. As she read the words, I prayed that God would plant the Truth of His Word deep down in her heart, drawing her to Himself. She smiled and gave it back and continued to ask me what I would do if my husband left me.
In a moment of realizing just how inadequate I am at saving someone and explaining the mysteries of God, I simply told her…
“I trust God.”
As we all put away our pens and paper and stood up to leave, she looked at me and said…
“Right now? Yes, I’m happy,” I said.
“No, all the time you are happy. You are always happy,” she replied.
I smiled at her, remembering our past conversations about Jesus being my hope, and told her it’s because of my hope. I told her that hope is the most important thing to me and without it I am never happy. She agreed with me and said hope is important for everyone.
As I left the building, I started to feel insecure about my ability to articulate everything that I had wanted to, but found rest as I reminded myself that God is always at work. Today my teacher read the Bible with her own eyes and although her life experiences have taught her to rely on self-preservation and trusting in her own plan, there is hope still. She may not quite understand why I don’t need to worry about the future, but she does see God’s Light within me – something that I could never manufacture on my own. I pray that as I continue to share God’s Word with her and cling to His promises, that she will see that my hope and joy are not circumstantial and that she will decide that she wants that too.
God is the God of the Harvest and He is always at work around you. Trust in His sovereignty and never doubt the power of His Word. Shine where you are planted and remember that in your weakness His strength is perfect.
“Why do you need a voice when you have a verse.” ~Jim Elliot
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” ~John 6:44
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” ~Matthew 9:36-38