Missions: God’s Heartbeat

His name is Dave.
He works odd jobs; chopping down trees, clearing land, working in gold mines. His home is a trailer. He’s got a way with a chainsaw, and in his spare time makes chainsaw sculptures for California tourists or curiosity collectors, creating everything from life-size grizzly bears to carved benches from good California redwood.

When Dave has saved up enough money from his hard work, he buys a plane ticket. Not to Mexico, not to Hawaii, not to NYC.  No, Dave doesn’t treat himself to a pampered vacation.  He goes to a dirty, turbulent third-world country.

When he arrives in this certain country (which I’ll keep anonymous) his blond hair and tall build make him stand out in a land not accustomed to tourists.  He makes his way to a little white building in the area where the Christians live.  There, this American backwoodsman is greeted by crowds of small smiling faces, clamoring for a look at their very own celebrity.

This is the Christian school that Dave started with his own work-callused hands.  Scores of the native children growing up in their oppresive Muslim homeland are given the chance to receive an excellent, Christ-centered education in this little schoolhouse.  This is Dave’s passion.  He trims trees with his roaring chainsaw and drives a tractor under the hot sun, because of these children.  He isn’t sent by a missionary board here in the U.S.  He has no training.  Mostly he hires qualified, educated natives in the area to teach and love on these kids, because Dave can’t be near his school all the time.  He hasn’t got a big job or a statewide church supporting network.  Dave is funded by that chainsaw.

Most folks would call Dave crazy.  His life has been endangered multiple times by radical Muslims.  He spends his time in one of the most violent and troubled nations on earth, all to give these children of Christian families encouragement.  All to be used by God to lead stubborn hearts to Himself.  Dave goes under the radar of most comfortable, suburban, pampered families here in the U.S.  He’s a hard worker, but his life choices make no sense to others.  But under that hot sun, driving a backhoe or mining for gold, Dave thinks of those kids, and that’s what keeps him going.

America’s heart for missions has gone cold.  Southeast Asian nations like Korea and Cambodia are sending far more missionaries out into the world than American churches.  The missionary life is looked down on.  What would convince someone to leave the comforts of America for the sake of people who often remain very hostile to evangelists, without expecting anything in return save scorn and hunger, pain and loneliness, poverty and disappointment?  This level of self-sacrifice must require a certain amount of madness.  Even many Christians in church view foreign missionaries with a strange mix of admiration, distrust, and unease.  Their stories of life in a foreign world, sharing the “old, old story” with faces of a different color in voices of a different tongue intrigue and confuse us.  We’re flustered because our world is so comfortable, and theirs, so very uncertain.

Once upon a time, the call of missions set America on fire.  Missionaries were viewed with respect as heroes of the faith, following the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) of Christ to the darkest parts of the world.  Individuals like Adoniram and Ann Judson, missionaries to Burma, achieved something like celebrity status in the States for their work (16 biographies were written about Ann’s life, with one so popular that a new edition was published almost every year for 26 years, from 1830-1856).

Now, America spends more money each year on dog food than on missions.

This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:21; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Obviously, judging from where we put our money, America no longer has a heart for saving the lost.  We’re more concerned about giving earthly sustenance to our pets than sharing eternal life with those who are perishing.  This is tragic.

Where is your heart?  How do you feel about overseas missionary work?  The God we worship has a huge passion for saving those who are lost, and He does not love those of us who are European any more than those who are Spanish or Pakistani, Chinese or Cherokee.  Jesus Christ is the Savior of the nations.  He is Lord of all men.

Without Christ, all of are helpless.  We have no hope.  Remember your salvation.  Remember your own story; remember God’s grace in your life.  Remember the sense of hoplessness you had before you knew Him as your Savior.  That is what millions of men and women are experiencing today, all over the world.  They may die without ever hearing the gospel taught plainly to them.

There are over 1500 unengaged people groups on earth…meaning that they have no churches or pastors.  1600 people groups are unreached…meaning that 2% or less of their population are evangelical.

These people need the gospel.  Our call as those who are saved is to declare God’s glory among the nations.  As you read these verses, open your own heart to see the mind and heart of God.  Listen to His heartbeat with every word.  Pray that you will share His passion for the lost and dying around the world.

“…Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received gracec and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations..” Romans 1:4b-5

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…” Acts 17:30

“…and [Jesus] said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’ ”  Luke 24:46-27

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’ ”  Mark 16:15

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ” Matthew 28:18-20

 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  1 Peter 2:9-10

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For ‘everyone whocalls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”  Romans 10:12-13

We are called to be “world Christians”: believers following a global calling.  No matter our profession or means or lifestyle we must share Christ’s passion for the salvation of the nations.  This is truly the heartbeat of God.  To not be concerned with the salvation of the perishing around the world is to not be in line with the will and the plan of God.  John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved Canada” or “For God so loved the USA”.  Rather, it says, “For God so loved the WORLD, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (emphasis added)  And the next verse continues, “Fod God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Faith in Christ is the only way to be saved.  As Peter teaches in Acts 4:2,“…there is salvation in no one else, for their is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  In order to be saved, we must come to faith in Christ through the knowledge of His sacrifice in our behalf on the cross, knowing that we cannot be saved through our own good works or intentions, but only by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But Paul raises the important question in Romans 10:14-15, “..how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ “

Paul himself, a Jew of the Benjamite tribe (Philippians 3:5), was called by “…he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles…” (Galatians 1:15-16).  In Acts 26:16-18, Paul records the words that Jesus spoke to Him upon his conversion:

” ‘But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I wil appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “

Whether you are called to pray for the missionaries you know (praying is not a little) or help send them with your finances, or if you are called to radical action, joining the ranks of Paul and Dave and so many others in their quest to follow Christ wherever He may lead them, know that this is truly the passion of God.  So listen to His call, and then follow Isaiah.  “And I heard the voice of the lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Then I said, ‘Here am I!  Send me.’ “  Isaiah 6:8

I believe that more of us are called to share the love of God and the salvation of His name among the nations that we realize…or are willing to admit.  Tune your heart to His and listen well.  After all, as Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

One day, this will be the scene we behold around the throne of God.  And we will understand, truly, the indescribable richness of this treasure that we can never, never lose.

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song, saying,

‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’ “

Revelation 5:8-10

 

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