Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. -Luke 9:23.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple. -Luke 14:26
Theses verses and others like them have a renewed meaning to me now. I recently got back from spending about three weeks in southern Asia with the first two weeks being focused on sharing the Gospel in an area that a missionary our church partners with is hoping to start up some house churches. A team of 5(3 men, 2 women) from our church went to a rather large city knowing we were going to be sharing the Gospel but not quite sure how it would look there.
As I walked around with a young, inexperienced Christian translator and had many opportunities to tell people about the One True God I was faced with something new and something that I was not prepared for or equipped at all to handle.
To set the stage, we’re invited into a home, as having religious conversations in this place is something that the people there enjoy, and sitting down in a small room while everyone in the house is invited to come and listen. On this trip we often started out the conversation using the Creation to Christ story about how the One True God created everything and then summarizes the Bible up to Christ dying on the cross. This is because this particular culture’s main religious beliefs often times were a collection of beliefs and so in order to separate the true God with any of the other gods they might believe in this method worked fairly well in explaining the difference. So I run through the story and at the end ask them if they’ve ever heard that before which is usually a no. I would follow that up by asking what they thought of that story and we’d usually have a conversation about a wide range of things that they didn’t understand or were curious about. All of that was no problem.
The part that I was unprepared for was hearing, “I believe what you’re telling me is the truth and I want to believe, but if I do my family and I might be run out of this area and I could lose everything.” I can remember sitting there, my mind racing, at a loss for words on what to say next. The only thing I could think about was the truth of the Bible. Those two verses at the top came to mind but I couldn’t help but think that there was no way for me to identify with their situation. I kept wanting to say something comforting to the effect of, “It’ll all work out in the end.” But I knew that I couldn’t because it might not be true from their perspective. In hindsight, I could have talked about temporary pain versus eternal joy and maybe that would have made ad difference but the words of Jesus in those two verses took on a whole new, sobering meaning at that moment.
In the United States we experience an infinitely small fraction of what it means to pick up our cross. It literally means to walk to your death on purpose. We know that; but do we really know that?
This is part of the reason it is so important to send missionaries out in the world. While we were there we all had many opportunities to disciple the young Christians who translated for us and many were had never shared the Gospel before and were afraid of what was going to happen. The missionary told us afterwards that there was no way he could have done what was accomplished while we were there without a team coming to help him.
In what ways is your church partnering with missionaries to expand the work that God has called them to do? In what ways does your church partner with missionaries to mobilize the church body towards the mission field?
Here2There can help your church learn to partner with your missionaries, mobilize people and create a strategy on being a missions-minded church. If you’re interested email us at [email protected].