photo credit: IMB.org
Go. Serve. Love is happy to welcome Timothy, a student with Fusion, the dynamic missions program at Spurgeon College in Kansas City, Missouri.
The sun beat down on the back of my neck as I struggled to will each step forward.
I looked up to see our guide Mamoudou (Mah-mu-doo) just ahead of me. Our group had been walking for what seemed like miles down a long, dusty road, greeted only by the occasional motorcyclist. It was already well over a hundred degrees, even though it had not yet reached midday–and I was low on water and motivation.
A Muslim shepherd had asked us to teach in a nearby settlement of nomadic Fulani shepherds. We excitedly accepted the invitation, but I secretly doubted anything would come of it.
Finally, Mamoudou pointed across the fields to a cluster of huts.
As we approached, two children emerged, wearing traditional braids, coins, and vibrant garb. Seeing our strange group, they quickly disappeared shouting.
Moments later, two women approached us, hesitatingly greeting us and asking questions. Mamoudou explained that we had been invited by the old Fulani shepherd.
But our joy quickly faded as we learned that the shepherd was not home; we had just missed him. Discouraged and exhausted, we asked if we could briefly rest in the shade before heading back to our village. It felt like a wasted day, and we didn’t have very many left in Africa.
As we rested, several curious children stood at a distance to watch us. Soon they were joined by herdsmen who had come in from the fields. Before long, a crowd of nearly thirty Fulani were standing around us, awkwardly observing.
“Trust and Obey” Looks Like This
Seeing an opportunity, Mamoudou pulled out the picture book that we used to tell the story from creation to Christ. As we started to teach, more gathered to listen.
We told about the Creator and his perfect design for the world, we told them about our sin which separates us from him, we told them about the Savior who died and rose again, and we told them about the imminent return of the Lord to judge all the earth according to his righteousness.
When we finished, the shepherds eagerly invited us to come back. We joyfully set out, exulting in the goodness of God!
After all, this mission is His.
Mamoudou told us this was the first time these shepherds had ever heard about Jesus. We rejoiced even more knowing that we were fulfilling the command to preach the gospel to all creation (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15).
Two years have passed since that visit, but I still think back on it often. I learned two lessons that I won’t easily forget.
1. THIS MISSION IS HIS. Followers are called to obey, regardless of the outcome.
The Fusion creed, a concise statement about the life of a believer, declares,
As a follower of Christ, I am called not to comfort or success but to obedience.
When I woke up that morning, walking out to the Fulani settlement was the last thing I wanted to do. And after learning that we had missed the old shepherd, I was quick to label our morning a failure.
But I am called not to comfort or success, but to obedience. And this mission is His.
And Christ commands us as followers, with no exemptions, to
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Obeying this command is rarely comfortable or successful by the world’s standards, but we who proclaim Christ as Lord are called to obey nonetheless.
2. THIS MISSION IS HIS. Followers are called to trust, regardless of the circumstances.
Jesus bookends the Great Commission with two statements in Matthew 28.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]
… Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Despite difficult circumstances, followers of Christ trust in him, knowing that the mission belongs to him.
My teammates and I never imagined so many would hear the gospel for the first time. In my discouragement, I failed to understand that our day was not wasted.
I did not consider that the One who created all things, who knows the name of every Fulani shepherd, and who cares for them far more than I ever could, had a much better plan in store.
The aim of missions is to glorify God. But it’s easy to lose this vision when we make things about us.
We experience the true joy of being gospel witnesses when we trust and obey Him, regardless of the outcome or expense. May our hearts be humbled to understand our smallness, may our minds confidently trust in our Father, and may our feet be quick to obey him.
This mission is his–and he is Lord.
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