Modern life has taught us to expect immediate gratification. We can order almost anything online and have it delivered to our doorstep the next day. We can take a picture and publish it instantly for the world to see. We can send a text message anywhere in the world and get a response in a few seconds. We can talk through our computers and bounce messages off of satellites into jungles half a world away. Today’s generation has been called many things, but no name is more apropos than the Now Generation.
The sad truth is that for many of us (I include myself) this “now” mentality has affected our expectations of missions and how quickly we should see results. Certainly, dedicated missionaries should expect and plan to baptize people into their worship groups and form new churches. God is actively working through missionaries to expand His kingdom, and we praise Him for allowing us to see some of the fruit of our labors. Yet, we can see only bits and pieces of what God is doing in people’s hearts. He who sits enthroned above the earth has plans far beyond our comprehension—plans of astounding depth and breadth. Recently, the curtain was momentarily drawn back for me, and I was able to catch an amazing glimpse of what God is doing on several of our projects.
On the Susu Project where my family worked for a decade, the team had the privilege two years ago of praying for a young lady named Mariam and seeing her delivered from demon possession. She was so grateful that she began Bible studies and was baptized some months later. Mariam’s deliverance was a powerful witness to her family. Although they persecuted her, her joy in Jesus was palpable, and her faith stayed firm. The rest of the story is that Mariam’s mother and sister were recently baptized. Praise the Lord!
After her baptism, Mariam’s mother faced challenges from her family and local religious leaders, but she held firm in her faith, declaring that Jesus is God. The rest of the story is that an Imam told her secretly, “We are still bound to our family expectations, culture and society. But you should go and be free.”
On a trip to Southeast Asia, I went to a mission committee meeting that I expected to be very difficult. When I arrived, I found the room full of friends from 25 years earlier, when my wife and I worked in refugee camps in Thailand. Several men I had baptized there were now serving as pastors. Another man I didn’t remember, a headmaster of a large Adventist school, told me I had baptized him in one of the camps. In that moment, I was overwhelmed with the thought that God knew way back then that one day these men would be sitting in a committee meeting with me where I would need their support.
The greatest blessing I have received is to see the children of people who were once in darkness without Christ growing up in the church, becoming workers for God, and themselves going out to form Christian families and establish the church in new parts of the world.
Sometimes we are so eager to see immediate results that we forget that God is doing things far deeper and far greater than we could ever think or imagine.
Please pray with me for all the AFM missionaries in the field. Let’s pray that they will see quick, visible results, but let’s also pray that these missionaries will someday see the veil drawn back just a little and catch a glimpse of the rest of the story.