I’m not sad at all about bidding goodbye to 2017, with its divisive politics, frightening nuclear rhetoric, and the #metoo movement that shone a (necessary but sad) light on some of the darkest aspects of human nature. I can easily get bogged down in the darkness, but as I look at the way God uses SEND’s missionaries around the world, I see LOTS of cause for celebration — and also plenty of ways to pray. So, this year …
I resolve to focus on individual souls, not statistics
Whenever I consider the number of unreached people in the world (more than 3 billion) or the number of unreached groups (nearly 7,000), I feel overwhelmed. The task is so huge and the places left to reach are so complicated that I can start to lose hope.
But then I hear stories about new brothers and sisters in Christ. Women who bravely proclaim their faith, even when they face scorn from their families. A new brother in Thailand, new sisters in Asia and Macedonia.
SEND missionaries are evangelizing and making disciples in 57 unreached people groups, and we’ve got big plans to add to that number in 2018. Soul by soul, God’s family — our family — is growing. I resolve to celebrate each time one lost sheep is found.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” — Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
I resolve to pray against distractions
In Russia, three of our workers made the strategic decision to move out of their comfortable city apartments and into a village populated almost entirely by members of an unreached people group. They labored intensely to build a home. Eager to connect with the community during the summer months, they moved in before they had running water. And then, when they should have been spending time with their neighbors, they discovered black mold — and had to dismantle wall after wall to kill the infestation in their brand-new house. Ugh.
In Macedonia, cars broke down. In the Far North, moose meat proved hard to find. In Southeast Asia, spotty internet made teaching tough. In Asia, visa issues left a family stranded in the States for much longer than planned. In Taiwan, neighbors of a house church were peeved that the church was taking up so many parking spaces. In Thailand, a teammate had to go home at a key moment to treat a painful medical issue.
I feel exhausted just reading that list! And yet, most of this is just life. You might be facing health issues, or you’ve battled mold, or your neighbors are peeved when your small group takes up all the parking spaces. So you understand how aggravating these types of issues can be — and how much time and energy can be spent on dealing with them. For missionaries, culture and language differences can make these situations even more complicated and time-consuming.
So, this year, I resolve to pray for the daily details — for functioning cars and good internet and quick visas. Please Lord, no more mold! And, when these issues DO crop up, I resolve to pray that God will use them for his glory, just like he did in Spain last year.
I resolve to embolden others to serve
I grew up in a church that supported one foreign missionary couple. They were amazing people who lived in a tiny village in order to translate the Bible into a language that hadn’t yet been written down. So cool! But, due to this limited exposure, I thought that missions was only for people with those kinds of amazing linguistic powers — in other words, NOT for me.
Then I met a good-looking seminary student who planned to teach at a theological school in another country. Again, NOT for me. Thankfully, that seminary student taught me that God can use all kinds of people in all kinds of professions on the mission field. I married that student, and at our first training to serve in Ukraine, a mission leader said they needed someone with a journalism background, just like mine. I felt so empowered; God had been preparing me to serve cross-culturally when that idea hadn’t yet crossed my mind.
Now I feel passionate about spreading the word: Every believer has some talent or skill that God can use to grow his church. (Here’s my favorite example from this past year.)
This year, I resolve to look for opportunities to encourage the people in my life with this amazing invitation, from Jesus himself: Go and make disciples. God’s given each of us just what we need to join him in this huge — but not hopeless — task.
Keep reading …
- IMB put together a great list of missions resolutions for the new year. Read them here.
- Sign up for On Mission, SEND’s monthly guide for people who want to become missionaries. Our first issue of 2018 comes out next week, so subscribe here, and as a welcome gift, you will receive a free download of a world map that highlights today’s unreached people groups. Together, we can bring them Good News. We can’t wait to join you on the journey