We spent the evening with the chairman of New Tribes Mission Australia. My husband (Patrick) met him last year in the Philippines and God used that encounter to help draw us to NTM. From our conversations, I have several thoughts running through my head. I’m not sure I can get them all into a cohesive, neat little essay, but I’m just going to do a little stream of consciousness writing. Maybe you’ll be blessed a fraction of how I was tonight.
We discussed God’s faithfulness in spite of our faithlessness.
2 Timothy 2:13 — If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
This is a good thing for me to remember as our family embarks on this missions journey. Though we hope to have faith and trust in the Lord, especially as we are forced to really rely on Him to provide everything (more on that thought in a minute), there will be times when we will be faithless. No matter what, God will remain faithful to us. Ross encouraged us with stories of God’s faithfulness in his life and ministry, and the reminder of this verse from 2 Timothy.
We had some good discussion about how so many people will look to a family going into missions and say, “You have so much faith.” Then it’s easy to begin to believe them. (Why, yes, I do have a lot of faith, don’t I? I must be something special.) No, no, no. Often, our faith is so small, and God’s faithfulness is so big. You don’t have to have any more faith to be in full-time missions than you do to work an ordinary job. Every Christian must rely on God to provide her needs. Right now, God is providing through Patrick’s secular job. In a year (we hope), He’ll be providing through our brothers’ and sisters’ jobs. No matter what channels the money comes through, it all originates at the same source — with our Heavenly Father Who owns the cattle on a thousand hillsides. Will we need any greater faith to rely on God next year than we do this year? Not really. He may take us through some lean times to increase our faith; but we’ve been through some difficult circumstances already in the past 12 years that have grown our faith. Ross said he has found that often, it’s easier for full-time missionaries than it is for Christians who work full-time in the secular world.
We also talked about the goal of missionaries. His goal — and our goal — is to give people the chance to either accept or reject Christ. There are groups of people all over the world who have never heard the Gospel. They’ve never had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ. Our goal, the goal of New Tribes Mission, is to give those people the opportunity, to give them the choice. So, NTM goes into a tribe of people, learns their language, helps them create an alphabet to preserve their language and honor their language, and then begins the teach them in their own language the story of Christ. Over time, NTM translates the Bible into tribal languages, so people all over the world can read God’s Word in the language of their heart. NTM does not go into a group of people to try to Westernize them or force them to learn English or make them accept Christ. No. The desire is simply to give people a choice. A choice many of us in the Western world take for granted. And all over the world, amazing numbers of people are making the choice to accept Christ. So that one day, people from every nation, every tribe, every language will surround the throne of Christ and praise the One Who has redeemed us.
We talked about so much more — how the world wants to see that our faith is backed by actions and that our faith is authentic. We talked about how often churches that are really reaching out to meet people’s needs are failing to give the whole Gospel, and how churches that really teach the Gospel are failing to reach out to meet people’s needs. We’ve got to do a better job.
We talked about how encouraging it is to see in the Bible that God uses screw-ups. None of the 12 disciples/apostles sent out in Matthew 10 were of much importance by the world’s standards. Most of the people written about in the Bible messed up in big ways. I love that the Holy Spirit is honest about the sins and mistakes. I know my shortcomings, my failures, my sins; yet I am encouraged that God can use me. You know why? Because it’s not about me. It’s about Him. He can probably use me more the more mindful I am of my failures, because then I will know it’s all Him. And I’ll hide in Him more — crouching myself down as little as I can be so that I can be completely enveloped by Christ. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. (2 Cor. 12:9) Isn’t that encouraging?
That’s enough to chew on for tonight.