Encounter the God of the impossible

It’s easy to look at the ‘Greats’ of the Bible and see their feats, their faith and God working through them. We can read stories from our missionaries in the same way, seeing the influence they’re having for the gospel. Both our biblical heroes and missionaries are people who struggle, who can feel overwhelmed and out of their depth. But they are choosing to follow God’s calling to ‘make disciples of all nations’ wherever that leads them, because he is worth the cost.

W* lives in a creative access country and recently shared a recurrent conversation he has with himself:

It’s a tough language to learn with a completely different, unfamiliar script. When it comes to learning a new language, people over 50 can’t really do it – old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Even if you learn it, how will you be able to talk about the things that matter most to people with any depth or fluency? Why would you attempt such madness?

You’ve never done business before in your home country, and you expect to set up and run a business successfully in a foreign country in a foreign language. There are mountains of red-tape to negotiate and you must resist the temptation to take any shortcuts. As you run the business, you will have to allow time and space to build relationships with local people. It’s difficult enough in your home culture, but you expect that you will somehow manage to do it in another one? Sheer madness.

Whilst doing all this, you are also going to take a group of new people under your wing and mentor them into a lifetime of cross-cultural service. You will have to find, fix and furnish accommodation for them. They will write papers you will have to read. You will hold them accountable for learning language and culture. You will need to walk them through the complicated visa process. They may even struggle to get on with one another – and with you. Madness upon madness.

Somehow in the midst of all of this you will have to maintain a healthy family life. You will try to share the love of Christ indiscriminately, and you will have to communicate carefully because you will be under the ever-watchful eye of the security services. But you will also have to communicate clearly and boldly, because peoples’ eternal destiny depends on your doing so. Those same people won’t usually want to change their eternal destiny. In fact, the religious system which holds them in a vice-like grip expends enormous effort to inoculate them against your message. Impossible madness.

But because…

Why would you even attempt any of this? Because he is the God of the impossible. Because he has loved us. And we love him and he is infinitely worthy of great risks. Because he sent his only son to die that we might live, and he wants others to hear this from us. And, somehow, very imperfectly, often faltering and falling, we have begun doing these things – yet not us but him who works in us to accomplish his purposes.

Attempt great things for God; expect great things from him.

 

This article was first featured alongside Africa Inland Mission’s Prayer Diary in September 2017 and is used with permission. You can sign-up here to receive future editions by post or email.


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