Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. (Proverbs 14:21) I know a guy who sold his business and went to be a missionary in Asia. While many young men were seeking success (whatever that means), he found it and left it to share...
I’m on mission for the gospel in Hungary. Yet I’ve spent all day in a room by myself, hoping to heal from the unexpected sickness that came upon me suddenly last night.
Today, while the rest of the team continued teaching English to eager Hungarian students; while the chapel filled my temporary bedroom with the sounds of singing; while gospel conversations happened and the Bible was read, I prayed and slept.
Allow me to back up and give you some background.
Unlocking the Bible is in the midst of translating some of Pastor Colin’s resources into other languages, one of the first being “10 Keys for Unlocking the a Bible” in Hungarian. Last summer, a great number of Hungarian students received a copy of this book as a gift for completing two weeks of English camp in Budapest.
I had the blessed opportunity to see these books distributed among the students, and we have heard testimonies of how God is using this resource to help these students, both believers and unbelievers, understand the grand storyline of the Bible.
This past week, a group of us returned to Hungary to run another English gospel camp in the country town of Tapolca. The end of our week holds a wonderful reunion with those aforementioned students from Budapest, who received Colin’s book last summer.
It is because of your support and prayers to the ministry of Unlocking the Bible that these translations are able to be printed and given to people internationally. And there are more to come! (We’ll shortly be establishing a new section on our website specifically for these translations. So thank you.)
I’ve come to realize a few significant things about missions during these last twelve hours of seeing all of my own plans get redirected. Paul opens his letter to the Corinthians with these very lessons, which are helpful to us all, whether we are on mission in our backyard or in Hungary.
1) When on mission, lean into discomfort.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Paul is referencing his persecutions in Asia, bodily hardship that came upon him during his missionary travels. None of the affliction was pleasant, but all of the affliction was purposeful. Paul is saying that when we realize that God is the source of our comfort, and not our bodily circumstances, we not only stand on a solid, trustworthy foundation of compassion, we are enabled by the Spirit to point others to Christ in their afflictions.
If you’re a Christian, there is never a time when you’re not on mission. Consider your neighbors, relatives, co-workers, or even the groups of people you are serving on technical “mission trips.” The afflictions God has ordained for your life are gifts of his grace to be leaned into, not complained about or devalued. In Christ, affliction may not be pleasant, but it has purpose. Lean into discomfort by leaning into the God of all comfort.
2) When on mission, realize the Lord is on mission within you.
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (vv. 8-10).
Amazing, that as Paul intended to go on mission for the gospel, he also was ministered to by the Spirit. He explains that in their many afflictions, they learned that God intended to deepen their dependence on him, making it clear that only he could be their steadfast hope.
Often it can feel like gospel “mission” is up to us: saying the right words at just the right time, or having enough energy to pour into people. I often slip into thinking that a person’s ability to hear the gospel and be changed depends on my own abilities and timing. But this could not be farther from the truth. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ–but always by the power of the Spirit and the right timing and will of God.
On gospel mission, we must remember that we are completely dependent on God at work within us. This is an especially needed reminder during moments of affliction and hardship. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
3) When on mission, plug into prayer.
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (v. 11).
Paul commends his readers to pray for him because he trusts that God works through the prayers of the saints. This is especially true when our desire is to see more people come to know Jesus Christ. God is teaching me today that, even though I can’t run around with the students or teach English or share the gospel, I can pray. And pray and pray some more.
Prayer is powerful. It is a means of expressing our dependence upon God and trusting him with all of our needs. Prayer is also a fount of thanksgiving and praise for all God has done. Prayer actually does something! I read once that if we are not praying, or asking others to pray, then we don’t actually believe that prayer works. That is convicting.
So where does God have you on mission? How might he be using your afflictions to comfort others and cause you to depend on him? And how will you use your mission field as a prompting to pray?
Stay tuned for the addition of translated resources, coming soon to our website. In the meantime, be blessed as you go on mission wherever God has placed you, trusting him with the outcome.