Friday, November 21, 2008

Ahhh, Africa!

I have CDC (Center for Disease Control) downloads all over my desk. I have one for every country our missions organization will visit, or those I am considering having us visit, in the next couple of years. I didn't really realize it until this morning, but it kinda looks I am obsessed with disease issues.

Part of my role is to take what shots the CDC says are required for visitors into each country, and then to talk to my contacts in each area for clarification of which ones are really needed. If we are not headed to the jungle areas of a country for example, then there is generally no need for malaria or yellow fever shots.

What I find a bit ironic and sometimes overwhelming, is how I came to really know to check with the CDC.

As the father of a young man who would lay down his life in a mighty battle with a disease that remained unidentified to the very end; and looking on and waiting for the CDC on multiple occasions to try to pin down what he was battling, and then (in effect) later, to be responsible for the lives of each missionary we take and trying to protect them, it can be a difficult thing to say, "you don't need this shot, but you do need that one." I understand that parents are placing their trust in me.

[Often I hear people say, "Bubonic Plague took BJ's life." I've seen it in print and heard it spoken by others. Some who should know better say this, others who are relaying what they have heard, share it. The truth is, it was the most likely disease, but it could not be proven. To us, his family, there is a reason it could not be assigned. It was not about a disease that claimed the life of a young man, but about a testimony that would bring glory to his Savior! The focus needs to remain on Christ, not the disease.]

I do not want to betray that trust, ever. At the same time, I realize that I cannot control circumstances that occur on the field. I must trust the Holy Spirit and His guidance. Somehow, in my flesh, I still fear having to one day, have a conversation with a parent, where illness becomes an issue. Realistically, students get sick on the field, but seldom is it a life threatening issue.

The disease that is most rampant is one the CDC cannot do anything about.

This one is present here in the US and everywhere else. For some reason, it is usually more of an issue at home than on the field.

This one keeps many from ever going. It claims those who have signed up, and they walk away, saying "I guess it wasn't supposed to be." This disease even claims some who were supposed to be in leadership.

This disease is called 'distraction.'

Distraction comes in many forms. Busyness, better jobs, summer school, new girlfriend/boyfriend, family issues, money, etc.

Distraction is usually wrapped up in the framework of "a better offer."

The enemy loves to steal, kill and destroy. He does so to our testimonies, and it seems to happen overnight. I see it happen every year. A student will start out enthusiastically with God's call to go. They will be working along, doing well, and suddenly the inevitable attacks come.

We are promised a life of suffering as believers. We know that the enemy will come after us harder if we are practicing obedience. Preparing to go to the mission field (whether here or abroad) is that kind of obedience. It almost always brings more significant attempts from the enemy.

When successful, potential missionaries somehow begin to think differently. What they saw as "extremely important" yesterday, is gradually or suddenly viewed as not necessary.

This happens through many different vehicles, but most have to do with an easier way of life and the promise of better things.

My question is, for whom?

The reality is that I have also seen many of those who were called, who then walked away, suffer even more for their disobedience.

I got myself in trouble with a parent one time for trying to convey that message to their child.

If 10-15% of the believers in the US are doing 85-90% of the ministry, why would I expect any different? We live in a culture that teaches us to sit back and expect everything, for very little effort. If you don't believe me, go overseas and see how they live.

I know there are people who work very hard...for their jobs. I am talking about ministry...the real reason we are here...that for which we are called to Go!

If we are in true fellowship with our Savior it is a very natural extension of that relationship. If we are not sharing, we are likely not in a healthy relationship with Him.

The landscape is changing in the US. Did we learn a lesson from Sodom and Gomorrah? Are we destined to repeat that history? A day of more severe suffering is coming for American Christians. Will we be ready? Will be able to withstand the blatant harassment of the enemy? Will we crumble under the pressure?

We must learn and teach others, to lay down distraction, and remain in flourishing fellowship with Christ. If we do not, many will not be ready. Many will perish without Christ.

It's not somebody elses job. It our job. We must remain engaged for His sake.

We have to pray! Change will only come through prayer and then obedience.



At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Distractions? Discernments? Callings? Each of us can call what the "other" has a distraction if it does not line up with our thinking or calling. I would love to go on foreign missions, but have family obligations that really do REQUIRE me to be obedient right where I am. I am involved in other ministries that reach children in a different way. I really really want to go on a foreign mission, but God has not directed or affirmed my time to go just yet. As we discern His calling on our obedience, we need to be sure it is not guilt taking us out, but a true obedience to His calling. Only the individual will know if God is calling them. We can't assume people are not obedient because they are not called to go when we wish them to go. Maybe the roadblock that keeps them from going was God's hand guiding. I pray for all missionaries. I wish I could be there with them. My time will come when the Good Lord opens the opportunity, and then I get to be obedient to Him.

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daugther grew on her mission trip with AWESTAR in ways that only could have been experienced by going. She was young. She was called. She was obedient. She grew in her walk with the Lord. She grew into a young woman of faith that I don't believe could have happened without her journey with AWESTAR through His guidance. I thank the Lord that He guided me in allowing her to go. Don't hesitate in going or allowing your child to go. We have one choice, obedience or disobedience. Obedience allows Him much glory!

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Pray for BJ said...

To the first anonymous blogger. I agree with your premise and I do know that God calls each of us in different ways. That we are obedient is what matters. If I made this writing only about foreign missions then I erred. God calls us to Go and we are to do so, wherever that is.

Since I am involved in foregin missions, obviously He has given me a heart for the same. What I was referring to, and probably did not write it well, was the number of specific instances of people who knew they were called, articulated their testimonies reflecting the same and then bowed out due worldly influence.

Those who are serving where they have been called are walking in obedience, no matter what soil they are on. They are already answering God's call to Go!

Praise God for that!

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen and God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana


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