News from a Far Country: Mexico
Memos for Missionaries from Proverbs
Shad (Deborah) Kember, Iguala, Mexico
(Compiled by Mitch Taylor)
Are you considering mission work? Gospel work abroad or in the homeland are the same, just with different circumstances. If we are praying or considering mission work, our life while secularly employed should be marked by similar work for the Lord we would do in a foreign field. The following thoughts should apply to both, though it is slanted more toward missionary focus.
Being guided: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Prov. 3:5-6.
A missionary must be sent by God. It is well said that a God-sent worker is a Godsend. The work of the gospel needs individuals gifted, fitted, and raised up by God. Commendation should be no surprise, but a 'natural' outcome of someone already proving themselves in gospel work. It is 'in' as well as 'to' the work. Mistakes can be made, God's grace can overrule, but errors in commendation can result in very difficult situations. It does the individual no favour to commend him to something to which God hasn't called him. When he leaves, the assembly should feel the loss. Long beforehand, wise elders will communicate with the worker(s) on the field. God's guidance is the message of our verse here. Don't leave the homeland without it.
Being generous: Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Prov. 3:27-28.
Procrastination is often a cover for reluctance. Anyone going into the work must be prepared to suffer loss. It's about serving others. This verse is about practically sharing which is sometimes a part of missionary work. If you can help this way, great. Better yet, share the gospel also, don't withhold.
Being godly: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Prov 4:23.
The work can be so demanding that very easily your spiritual gas gauge can be bouncing on empty. Irritation, impatience and very little of the sweetness and gentleness of Christ will result. God wants our heart before our hands and our feet, our love before our labours. We neglect the secret place of the Most High at our peril. Being yoked with Christ in the furrow helps to learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart, essential to working with others. Not surprisingly, missionaries can have strong personalities, tensions can be great, anger can spill out, communication can be impeded, and respect eroded. No gospel worker has ever suffered from too much meekness and lowliness.
Being gracious: These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him...and he that soweth discord among brethren. Prov. 6:16, 19.
This goes in sync with the previous point. It's one thing for a man to be difficult to get along with, it's another when he actively seeds the work with discord. Unfortunately, that isn't a hypothetical idea removed far from reality. Such often become mavericks and refuse to be reined in by others, even elders. Elders should never commend a man who can't work with others.
Being a go-getter: He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame. Prov. 10:5.
The harvest is on, but sometimes we're sleeping. It’s disputed whether Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned, but the idea is germane to our discussion. How can we be happy with anything less than a vigorous approach to 'rescue the perishing, care for the dying'? God help us to be wise sons, industrious, and up-and-at-it. Christ said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: The night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4
Being grieved: If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Prov. 24:12
For people wounded and dying, every minute counts. Everyone should have a passion for lost souls. If God opens doors for you to do it more in the model of the New Testament evangelist, thank God. Meantime, do all you can to deliver them that are drawn unto death. Compassion can turn into passion. Time lost is souls lost.