Life on the inside…

My last post probably sounded kind of lame as I shared about what my days look like these days being full time in language study.  I mean, compared to the stories that we would share when we were in Haiti, some of you all might be asking just what in the world we are doing while we are here.  And, like I said in my last post, we are studying…mostly.  That is what takes up a lot of time and effort.  We do get some opportunity to minister in different capacities, but the majority of my time is spent on studying and just living in Costa Rica with my wife and kids.

So, maybe not a lot is happening on the outside so much these days, but I can’t even describe fully what God is doing on the inside, that is, in my heart.  I feel like the Lord is really using this time here to shape my heart so much more for Him and His glory.  He is revealing Himself to me in incredible ways through His Word.  He is changing me for His glory.  He is changing my values and desires to become more like His values and desires.  Maria and I have had so many conversations in these past 2 months regarding what God is stirring in our hearts as missionaries.  There are so many things that we are eager to do once we get to the place that He calls us to.

Speaking of which, we are so thankful and grateful to the Lord for His perfect leading.  It became very apparent as we both prayed and sought the Lord that the opportunity to go to Peru was just not something that He was calling us to.  So, we have let our friends know this, and it is great to see that they also were feeling the same, that it just didn’t seem like the Lord was in it after all.  So, we praise God who leads His children according to His perfect plan.  We know that the Lord will open the door to where He is calling us to go.  Both Maria and I have been praying much and we can see that God is working and shaping something.  We are eager to see what plays out in the near future.  Please be in prayer for us as we follow His lead each and every step.  I’m just so amazed at how the Lord leads and directs His people into His perfect will.  As long as we are truly seeking Him for the purpose of bringing Him glory, we have nothing to worry about.  He will lead us.

So, we continue to just seek Him, know Him, love Him, and wait in excitement as He unfolds His perfect plan.  Hopefully, within the next few months, we will have more to share about this.  But for now, I glory in what He is doing on the inside of my heart.

One of the things that I am seeing more and more is just how much God reveals Himself to us through His Word, and just how much He changes and sanctifies us through His Word.  My favorite verse has always been Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation…”  I have always believed this to be true, but honestly, I haven’t had nearly the same amount of conviction as I now have these days.  As the Lord reveals to both Maria and I about the ultimate effectiveness on the mission field, we just keep coming back more and more to the need for the gospel to be preached, taught, mentored, shown, studied, etc.  I have never been more convinced of the power of the Gospel for a new life…and a changed life.

So, as Maria and I discuss our vision for ministry these days, what is paramount for the both of us is the need to teach, preach, and share the Gospel with those we encounter.  Yes, we are burdened by the conditions of the poor, and we will do whatever we can to help them.  Yes, our hearts break over the plight of the orphan, and we will most certainly spend our efforts in bringing light into their life.  Yes, we are concerned and see the importance of supporting educational programs, and we will do what we can to help kids get educated.  But let me ask you this:  What eternal good do any of those things do if these people are not hearing about the life saving, life changing message of the Lord Jesus Christ?  How could we ever call our mission a success if we have raised people from poverty, given the orphan a home, brought education and success to many kids, fed and nourished their bodies, and yet their eternal soul is forever damned because nobody spent their days teaching, preaching, sharing, and pleading with them to be reconciled to God through the saving grace of Jesus Christ?  That would not be a success at all.

Our role as missionaries is to make disciples first and foremost.  And in order to be effective in doing that, our greatest tool on the mission field is the Word of God.  It is what God uses to bring the truth of salvation to light in a person’s life, and it is what God uses to bring sanctification into a person’s life.  And this tool, God’s Word, is what we so much desire to bring to those people whom God brings our way.

We are excited about developing ministries that help the poor.  But the most exciting, and in my opinion most beneficial, thing we can do for the poor is to share with them the blessed hope that they can have in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  We are looking forward to developing ministries that touch the life of the orphaned and abandoned as we did in Haiti, but the greatest gift that we can ever bring the orphaned child is the news that he or she is never truly orphaned when they know the love of the Heavenly Father.  We want to teach them what God says about them and encourage them to cling to the promises that are given to God’s children.  This is what is truly going to bring life and hope into their dark world.

So, our desire is to minister in these areas (feeding the poor, caring for the orphaned and abandoned, etc), but our primary emphasis in these ministries will always be teaching, preaching, and sharing the Word of God.  Our call is to make disciples.  If, in that process, we help eradicate poverty, or we help families develop, or we see great educational progress, then that’s great.  But we will not determine our success in those things.  Our success will be determined by how invested we were in the eternal matters of the people and how much we labored to share with them the truths in Scripture.  For it is the gospel that is indeed the power of God for salvation to all who believe.  May the Lord give me the love and compassion that is needed to address the physical and social needs of the people, but may He give me the greater compassion needed to address their spiritual needs.

I mean, the truth is, and I share this from my own personal experience, that it is easy for me to go to a home of a poor family and deliver a bag of rice, beans, and oil and give a few gifts to the children, and play with them for a bit, then tell them Jesus loves them, say a prayer for them, and head off to the next family. Sure it takes boldness to do that.  It takes compassion to invest in the lives of the poor.   But it is much harder, takes more boldness, takes more compassion for me to see that same family and ask them if I could sit down with them and talk to them about what the Bible says about God and our need for salvation.  And to talk to them about their sin and their need for God’s grace and forgiveness that came through Jesus Christ.  And to ask them if they would like to start coming to a Bible study every week where these things are being discussed with others as well.  In my opinion, that truly takes more compassion and boldness.  And my prayer is that God would give me such a degree of compassion that I weep for men’s souls who are perishing and that He would give me such a degree of boldness that I would not let anything get in the way of doing whatever I can to bring them the Word of God.

Like Paul says in Philippians, “not that I have already obtained this…but I press on…”, I also have not obtained this, but my prayer is that God would bring me to such a place.

So, yeah, not a whole lot going on outside my life these days, just language school, studying, family, etc.  But on the inside, God is stirring my heart big time for what matters most to Him…the Gospel.