“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV)
When I consider all the events of the last few decades, how do I sift through everything to determine what’s encouraging and exciting to share with others and what’s boring? Another question is; how much detail do I include about technical matters I take for granted? Some folks like all the technical details while others soon have a glazed look in their eyes. It’s a fine line to balance when writing anything about ministry years.
As I think of it there’s also the question of security. Security is an issue when dealing with an evangelical ministry which brings the Christian Gospel message into countries who are religiously, culturally, politically and historically opposed to the message. Like a spy would say, “I’d tell your everything about my work but then I’d have to shoot you.” It’s not quite that bad in ministry but some things are best left unsaid outside of the work place for the safety of others in dangerous locations.
The impact of electricity, the booming electronic industry and the growth of media platforms in today’s ministry are enormous. Today’s young missionaries take it all in stride. They are part of the “connected” generation. They don’t remember life before the Internet, cell phones and social media. Seasoned missionaries, aka us older folks, are a bit reticent to apply the latest and greatest technology to our ministry. We see the good and the bad from personal experiences. Unfortunately, we often downplay a potential expansion of our ministry in fear of or due to a lack of understanding the new media platform. The younger missionary candidate doesn’t see this problem and can easily race forward without carefully considering the fallout caused by a brash approach to distributing the message of salvation. There are bridges to be built and barriers to overcome from both sides of the age barrier.
I’d like to encourage the younger generation to commit their lives to the ministry of reconciliation. I’m not talking about just putting a toe in to test the waters. I want them to take the great leap of faith and jump in full body to see what God can do through their full commitment. The problem I’ve witnessed with toe testing is that they never get used to the water, they never adjust. It’s only when they’re willing for God to use them both in their comfort zone, (work they’re familiar with or trained to do), and out of their comfort zone, (work they’ve never done or where they have no training), do they experience the full reliance on His guidance, grace and care. How do I share this with a culture effectively speaking another language?
I’m reminded of the mechanism I use to prepare sermons in a multi-language, multi-cultural environment. I write the sermon using the vocabulary I know best. I try to be concise and succinct with a careful selection of words and phrases. Then I give the written message to my wife. She sifts through the message and strikes out culturally specific phrases, complicated word combinations, or “big” English words from the text. I have to go back and find more common phrases and better words to insure the translator and the listener will understand my point. It takes a lot or work and the results make it worthwhile. So how do I apply the same approach to sharing the ministry with young folks?
I want the next generation to understand the amazement I feel when I see God supply, in unexpected ways, everything I need. He even supplies some of the things I just want! My desire is for another generation to see and long for that feeling of total dependence on God to provide. I want them to learn to not rely on their skills or training to be faithful. How do I convince them to hand everything to God and allow Him to manage their lives? How do I convince them that their training, schooling, and experiences are good tools but nothing is better than allowing God to choose what to use and what not to use? How do I share the experience of being dropped into unknown territory and relying completely on God to provide the skills, knowledge and application we need to accomplish His goals?
How do I do all this without losing contact, without driving them away, without creating confusion instead of clarity? Something to think about . . .