Pastor Felix showing other pastors and church leaders our map of our region. We talked about the need to expand into the vast areas around us without a Christian presence.
Last week, I went to visit, pray for, encourage and exhort some village pastors I hadn't yet met. Pastor Felix and his wife Pirscilla went with me from our local church in the Banfora area. We headed due east towards the boundary of the Cascade Region. The Cascade region is where God has called us to engage in church planting. Thanks to some recent road work, the first 25km is as good as a dirt road can be here. From there, the next 100+ kilometers goes down hill in quality, really fast. With every mile or more accurately kilometer that passed, the roads got worse. Much worse. We had set out to visit 5 churches that were planted in very difficult areas. Areas with many unreached peoples and villages.
Meeting with pastor and church leadership in remote village church building.
When Jesus said that we would receive power from the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth…He meant it! We have indeed received both a great commission and the empowering of the Holy Spirit to carry out that commission. Why did Jesus remind us that to Him was given all authority and that he would always be with us, even to the end? I think He told us these things because he understood the cost of the task He set before us. What will it cost us? It will cost us our lives. I have no doubt that Jesus has called many to minister to their neighbors in "Jerusalem". But, as I sit thinking about those of us called to minister to our neighbors at the "end of the earth", I am overwhelmed by what Jesus said in Luke 10:2-3 as He sent out laborers, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves."
Small mud brick church in a remote village.
I thank God for the things he shows me, my wife and kids here in Burkina Faso. Does that mean that they are all pleasant or beautiful to us? the answer is a definite, No. Many times the things we need to see, hear and experience are not pleasant or beautiful. We as westerners, can mistake at times our many blessings as being deserved, earned or even a result of that four letter word "luck".
Can we really understand the beauty of the resurrected Jesus without rightly understanding the realities of the cross and his brutal substitutionary death in our place? We often want the glory and beauty of a risen savior in the form of current abundant blessings of wealth and comfort here on earth. In God's economy, we live for Him now as foreigners, while eagerly awaiting true riches in eternity spent with Him. If we aren't careful we actually begin to believe and live like this world is our home.
As I see my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve our God faithfully as they experience isolation, persecution, extreme poverty, discouragement and illness, I think about what Jesus said and did in during His life on earth. What lies have I believed? Do I think that I deserve certain things or comforts now in this life? Do I believe that following Jesus will cost me any less than all I have to give…my life? Why did God not take me straight to heaven when I was saved? How should my life look in comparison to those who don't know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Small church in foreground, Pastors house and cookhouse in background.
My prayer is that God would grant us the ability to hear clearly His call to die to ourselves and to live only for Him. That He would through the power of the Holy Spirit empower us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. That He would open our eyes to the ripe fields which he has called each of us to labor in and the He would grant us perseverance and joy as we seek to fulfill our roles in His Great Commission.
Join us in praying for those who are ministering in difficult places and asking God how we can come along side of them as we run the race together. Ask God to send more laborers into His harvest fields, whether they are in "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or the ends of the earth." pray for break throughs among unreached peoples and villages. Pray for God's strength, blessings and perseverance on those living out their calling, regardless of title or profession.
My hope is not to guilt anyone into doing the "right" thing. In sharing my thoughts, I hope it stimulates your thoughts, prayers and drives deep into the bible. I am amazed at God's goodness and faithfulness, even when I am not either of those things. I fail in so many ways…but, I want to daily run the race set before me and call others to run their race well. Oh, that we all might hear our Lord say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21
Your brother in Christ,