Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ . . . Colossians 4: 2 – 3
We have friends, Dale and Gilda, who have devoted their lives to mission work and sharing the love of Christ with others. I love hearing their stories and this is one that Dale has shared with us about an experience he had in Korea many years ago. He gave me permission to share it with you, and I think you will be as moved by it as I was. What a blessing they are to so many with their faithfulness to God. And what a message this story – in his words – holds for all of us.
The work on these mission trips can be hard, but the personal rewards far outweigh anything we give. I think we receive far more than we are able to give those we serve. Their appreciation, love and sweet Christian Spirit puts me to shame, so I always come back more aware and far more blessed than anything that I was able to accomplish.
On a mission trip that I led to Korea in 1985 we saw thousands of people trust Christ, but the work and the dedication of the Christians in Korea made me feel so lacking. I worked with a Methodist church north of Soul, Korea. I preached in a prison where 250 inmates out of 300 trusted Christ. I wondered how could this be? These people had never heard the gospel and responded to Christ the first time it was shared with them. I thought, I must be pretty good at evangelism. Following the service in the prison the pastor of the church asked me if I wanted to go to prayer meeting with him the next morning at his church. I agreed, only to find out that it was at 6:00 AM. I am not an early morning person, but I decided it would be rude to back out of the invitation after it was given and I had accepted.
The next morning I went to that church expecting a few people to be gathered only to discover that the church was packed from wall to wall with people who had come to pray. Everyone prayed at the same time out loud and it sounded like a strange roaring noise as the people cried out their petitions to God in a language that I did not even know. After about 45 minutes of continuous praying the pastor called everyone back to order and had a short challenge. The pastor then declared that the church had gathered, prayed and sought the renewing of the Holy Spirit for the day and they were ready for the challenge: Now go into the world and do something today that will show the love of Jesus to others.
I asked the pastor, after we dismissed, how often did his church gather for this prayer and he informed me that they did it everyday except for Sunday morning and the church was always full. Now you tell me what was the difference in preaching in Korea and seeing thousands saved than preaching here? I can assure you it had nothing to do with me or the men that I took on the mission trip. If the church in America had that type of commitment we would see great things happen as well. The Korean experience was one of the highlights of my ministry and I never went back to Korea. People asked me why I never returned and I told them that they did not need me. I told them that before long that country would be sending evangelists and missionaries to America.
Yes, I do some work, but the work that goes on before us impacts the lives far more than what we share. I have just been blessed to see it all in action.
What a reminder that this too is our calling and mission for Christ: On this day,“Do something that will show the love of Jesus to others.”
Dear Lord, what strength, love, and hope we can find in you. May we be more faithful in prayer and service to you by sharing your love with others. We thank you for the ministry that Dale, Gilda, and all others do in your name and we ask you to bless their work and their lives. Amen