Having been involved in mission for almost 30 years, I have always come across challenges which compel me to consider whether it is worth risking my life or that of others by sharing the entire gospel. In a certain Central Asian country, the crime of sharing the good news is similar to terrorism. They not only regard it as politically disruptive but causing disunity to family and society at large. Many of the families with the call of impacting lives for God to the unreached have sacrificed their lives and health to go to the remote parts of the world without security or proper medical care. Is it worth it?
I have come to the conclusion that unless we are convinced that there is a good God who created the heaven and the earth and is the unchanging God of the “Always” and faithful to His promise, we will not be able to wholeheartedly convince others and our families that it is worth following Him and doing His will. Following through the mission requires living out both the blessing and responsibility of the call.
Now let us look at Abraham’s calling and God’s promise to make him a great nation (Genesis 12). We know that Abraham did not have the Word or Scripture like we all have today. The only way he got to know God was when he experienced God and acted upon what he was told. Abraham would never have known and experienced the reality and faithfulness of God if he had not obeyed by faith and left his country. Abraham was wealthy and living in a comfortable environment when God called him to leave his country and because of his obedience, he not only experienced God’s blessing but became a blessing to future generations.
There are two folds to Abraham’s calling – blessing and responsibility. God blessed Abraham so that he would be a blessing to the nations. Throughout the Bible, we always see blessing and responsibility come together. For example, many people like to claim the blessing in the verse “that my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), but as we look at the context, Paul was thankful primarily for the manner in which the Philippian Church had supported him faithfully by spreading the Gospel. Therefore, because of their obedience (responsibility), he assured them that God would supply all their needs (blessing).
We know that the blessing of descendants God had promised to Abraham did not materialise right away. In fact, it took about 25 years before his son, Isaac was born. In between, there were lots of questioning, doubting, and compromising. The further he went, the more questions and doubts there were, but he never gave up. Instead he kept pursuing God and building altars of worship along the way.
Abraham did not see the fulfilment of all that God had promised him but because of his obedience, we are able to witness the Immediate historical fulfilment of his lineage and physical descendants, Intermediate Gospel fulfilment through Christ and His Church, and Ultimate fulfilment of the final destiny of all who persevere like Abraham.
There are many ways to try to fulfil the call of God but if we only focus on extrinsic methods to try to get the results, we may attain quantity but not quality. Many believers of Central Asia have gone through training after training, and some of the trainers claimed that their methods and training are more effective than others, but after a lot of effort and resources have been poured in, the church is still not growing and self-sustaining, but dependent upon foreign spiritual input and financial backing. The believers may not have taken personal responsibility of their faith nor matured independently in the Lord Jesus. In other words, their faith may be vested in man and not fully in God alone. I believe we need to return to the basics like Abraham did: When he encountered God, he made a personal commitment to obey Him, even though the future was very uncertain for him. Nevertheless, his faith grew as he obeyed God one step at a time. We need to obey the Lord, starting from the smallest to the biggest things. Only then can we experience the full blessing of God, even in the face of uncertainty, persecution, and physical and spiritual opposition.