Well, I have just returned from a very exciting trip to Honduras. I was joined there by Anderson and Nadu, our coworkers from Columbia, and we trained about 210 pastors and leaders from two cities. It was very exciting. I have come home with a very bad cold. I spent yesterday in bed and I’ll probably take a nap again this afternoon. This reminds me that at 67, these trips drain me in ways that they did not seem to drain me 10 or 11 years ago when I was going to China four times a year as well as other places. But that is the ministry.
Paul often talked about the cost of the ministry. He said, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” (Philippians 2:17 NIV). That is an interesting usage of language. That is exactly what it is like to serve the Lord in many places. At times of our life, there is a sacrificial part to it and I think that it comes down to us feeling a sense of calling. Over the years we have experienced not only those times of stress and of being drained, but just some downright wacky and weird experiences.
For example, one time we were in China and we flew into an airport and I went for a cup of coffee outside the airport. I came back and found out the airport had been closed. There was a big lock and chain on the door, and my wife was inside there reading and did not know that they closed the airport. I called her on her cell phone and she came over to peek out of the doorway slot, wondering how she is ever going to get out of there. We had to wait until around five or six in the afternoon before the staff came back to the airport, and we flew from that airport back to our destination.
Another time we went to a place of housing that was in a sensitive area. When we got to the apartment, it was about 40 to 45 degrees there. We were dressed in all of our winter clothes, like we’re going skiing or something inside the apartment. These are some of the things that you come across in missions. I know my friend Mark Nicholson, he often talks about how he would go off with the nomadic peoples and leave his computer in the refrigerator to keep it warm. That’s how cold his house would get when he went off to travel with the nomads up in the highlands of China.
And another time his car broke down in Cuba while traveling from one city to the next, and they had no electrical system within the car. As they started to drive it again, he only had his iPhone light as the headlight for their car. So you really do experience all kinds of crazy things when you travel and serve the Lord in world missions. Most of them are amusing and not dangerous, but there are times where you do face certain amounts of dangers. I often tell people that there is no safer place to be than doing the will of God but the will of God is not safe.
For example, here is the Apostle Paul talking about all the things that he experienced in doing the will of God for his life, he was whipped five times with the lash on his back, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked one night and a day he was adrift at sea, he had frequent journeys in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from his own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers in toil and hardship through many a sleepless night in hunger and thirst, often without food in cold and exposure.
Doing the will of God is a dangerous thing. God protects us, but not from danger and not from exposure to hardship and difficulties. This is what I love about the gospel. It is rooted in the real world. It is dangerous, and we are particularly called to be cross bearing people. I encourage you in these hard times to not be a coward. Live dangerously in the will of God.
We are particularly cross bearers for child bearers. And if you are a part of Passion Life and you are involved in what we are doing, then you are a part of a movement of cross bearers for child bearers and it actually changes the way you think and live your life. I just want to encourage you to live a life that responds to the will of God and is not afraid or always looking for a comfortable place in your life. To keep the will of God often means to go into dangerous places. As Paul suggests with his own life, the safest place that we can ever be is in the will of God, but it’s not a safe place. It is full of dangers. Take peace in knowing that God is the God of all comfort in such places. One of the comforts that we get is to see the fruit of our work as we go out. Let us be resolved to live out our lives as cross bearers for child bearers and without regret, God bless.