Monday, May 7, 2018

Little Engine Mission

Being on the mission field is a difficult, humbling and growing experience. There are many wonderful and exciting aspects to living overseas. But the challenge with missions is that the one thing I am called to do is the one thing I cannot do! Think about it: The Lord commissions us all to “go and make disciples.” Sounds like a simple enough command, right? Well, it is an actual impossibility for any of us. Why? Because we cannot change hearts. We cannot move someone closer to the Kingdom. We cannot argue them into the Kingdom, not even woo them into it. We cannot make someone love God or be attracted to his nature. The work of converting hearts is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. And when he’s not moving in that way, it feels like we are knocking our heads up against a wall. I experienced this for many years, working with atheists in the former East Berlin and praying fervently for their salvation. There were times I doubted that the Gospel was really God’s power to accomplish it.

Image result for the little engine that couldNo amount of Little Engine that Could pep talks can help. “I think I can-I think I can-I think I can“ doesn’t work. In fact, if we start thinking this way, our engine backfires because we are denying certain core truths inherent to the Gospel. We believe people are dead in their sins and cannot respond to God unless he regenerates their hearts. We believe that when He calls them, they respond because His voice is compelling and His work effective. No amount of my screaming to a corpse can make it come alive again. We even believe that outside human agency is not always involved in this process. All of these facts might lead us to believe that God doesn’t need us at all. And yet, God chooses to use his people in the process, mostly through their desperate supplications of behalf of their friends. It is a mystery I cannot truly comprehend.

Through my recent work with the refugees, I have been reminded repeatedly of God’s sovereign work and hand in people’s lives. Their needs are so huge, I know I’m helpless to help. My resources are naught, my compassion quickly exhausted, my control over situations illusory. Because of this, I am cast to my knees and so are they. The beautiful truth that this has shown me and them is that God is able. In the face of the terrible housing market, God has opened doors because we prayed. After a few months of asking God together, one of the ladies called and said: “Jesus gave me an apartment!” when a real estate agent called her out of the blue with a place for her and her family. She realized it was the Lord. Another woman said that during her journey towards the Christian faith she had started to pray that God would reveal himself to her so that she would know who he is. One night she had a dream in which a man stood behind her and spoke in a language she did not know but somehow understood what the man said: “all you need to know about me is that I am who I am.” She only realized later that this was Jesus. God has brought these precious people into our midst and I know full well I can’t…I don’t even think I can. My conclusion is the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is still the same today. He can still bring people back from the dead. That leads me to want to shout over the rooftops: “I knew He could-I knew He could-I knew He could!”