Bible studies almost every day of the week. Making friends and seeing them baptized within months. Leading out in prayer groups all over the community. Sounds great, right? This is the way I had always envisioned the mission field.
Before we embark on a journey into the unknown, it is natural to feel excited and passionate about it. This leads us to build expectations about what it will be like—the expected experience. We expect we’ll be leading out in Sabbath Schools every week. We expect to preach occasionally. We expect to invite local people to our house for Wednesday-night prayer meeting. We expect to lead friends from the neighborhood to make decisions for baptism. We prepare ourselves so much for our expected experience that we forget something even more important—to expect the unexpected.
I came to the AFM Susu Project in Guinea with the mentality that these people were deep in sin and needed a Savior. If I didn’t make a huge impact while I’m here, I wouldn’t see them in the kingdom. With this mindset, it’s easy to start thinking that I am their savior; that I am going to save them from hell’s fire through my impact on their lives. I was always trying to think of how I could save the next person and shift the basis of their faith from Islam and animism to Christ. What can I do to make them see that I have Christ? What’s the next public demonstration of kindness or generosity I can make? That doesn’t sound wrong, does it? My friends, it is. Often when it comes to spreading the gospel, we get stuck on ourselves when it’s all really about Him! Christ in me is the hope of glory! There is nothing I can do to save anyone. No great amount of money I give to the poor; no kindness I show to children. I could give my body to be burned, but if all these actions don’t radiate the love of my Heavenly Father, then they will profit me nothing, profit this community nothing, profit this mission nothing, and profit the gospel nothing. Christ Himself has to be there to place His love, His nature, His very character into those who believe.
Once we choose to be used in service to the Lord and give ourselves over to Him, our thoughts can no longer be our thoughts; our way of doing things can no longer be the way. Every fiber in our being needs to be submitted to God’s way.
So what’s my job in all this? To live and to let Christ live through me. And when I do that and only that, His power, His love and His truth will be spread. Then it will truly no longer be I, but Christ living in and through me.