The Imperative Command
Operation World still calls the West African country of Niger a “pioneer land” after 85 years of missions work. Yet, however feeble our attempts to reach them or how resistant the field, God can and does still move among people:
Chibuzor in Niger wrote us: “I've been dreaming constantly about heaven and hell, and I'm seeing Jesus Christ warning me about d whole world saying, he's giving us last chance to repent. and dat he's coming soon. I dreamt about dis last night, 2 days ago and last week also. please help me cuz I don't want to go to hell.”
Like me, you’ve probably heard the phrase “seeker” challenged, based on Romans 3:10-11: “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.’” On our own, it’s true: we’re so desperately wicked and lost that we want to be the center of the universe, not to acknowledge God. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us that way, as this contact’s testimony illustrates.
God is personally involved in the lives of all seekers, no matter where and when they are born. The purpose? “…that they should seek God…” (Acts 17:27) Even in places like Niger, which is 80% Sahara Desert and ranked dead last on the UN's Human Development Index in 2018.
Just think: there are no truly “God-forsaken” places in the world. As Paul continues “…he is actually not far from each one of us.”
From the Church’s beginning in Act 2 there have been local seekers, as well as “devout men from every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5) The Ethiopian Eunuch had likewise “come to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27) and needed someone to explain what he read in the Scriptures.
In fact, Greek experts say that although “go” in the Great Commission is a good way to translate it, the word is really an infinitive (which in English would be “going”) and that the real emphasis is on the command to “make disciples.” We can know from other passages (Acts 1:8, for instance) that Jesus meant for them to literally go—and He made sure that they did. (Acts 11:19)
Today’s world makes it possible for us to be there whenever seekers are asking questions, asking for prayer, or looking for truth and comfort.
We don't have to:
- Cross oceans
- Go through border-checkpoints
- Live under hostile governments
- Deal with the challenges of healthcare and other infrastructure in the countries in which we minister
- Learn the languages (the English-speakers in the country come to us!)
- Receive specialized training in personal security
- Scale some of the “culture” barriers that might exist if our contacts saw…
- Our gray hair, bald heads and wrinkles (we’re at least a generation removed from most of them!)
- Our comfortable homes, cars and clothing
- …or heard the weird accents of our version of English!
Putting those two passages together, our Online Missionaries see God’s hand in more than just the few who report a dream or vision of Jesus. They’ve been moved to seek God, and we are the appointed witnesses to whom He has brought them.
Here’s why we need your prayers:
The list of challenges to physically “going” aren’t the only ones. Distance and cultural barriers aren’t the only ones to surmount.
Please pray that our Online Missionaries learn to seek God’s heart for each contact. It’s not always quite so obvious as, “I just had a dream where Jesus warned me… I don’t want to go to hell.” Most of the time it’s more like, “My life is uncomfortable. Get God to fix it for me.” Those who follow up with them need the spiritual sensitivity and compassion to interpret this also as an opportunity to share the way of salvation with them, and the faith that as we’re faithful to share His Word, it will change hearts and minds.
We also have an enemy to deal with, even if he’s not embodied in guards standing in front of us to check our passport or fire-bombing our churches. Some of you remember that when we moved to Florida 15 years ago with our five-year-old and three-year-old, we almost immediately faced hurricanes (including the worst in 40 years for Orlando). Like us, our Online Missionaries have had to flee their homes due to hurricanes. They’ve cared for their children as they’ve faced serious illnesses, and they’ve suffered with the distractions, discouragements and anxieties brought on by chronic pain and medical emergencies.
Please pray they never lose their recognition that God is drawing seekers to Himself through our ministry, and that the Lord ensures they have abundant reward for their investment with us. That’s what we’re praying for for you! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for how you make it possible for us to serve full-time!
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!