Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MISSIONS AND THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD'S WORD #2

As promised in the previous post, I want to explain how difficult it can be to try to build a work for God on the mission field while being faithful to the conviction that His work can only be accomplished through prayer and the ministry of the Word.

My convictions on this matter were severely tested in many ways. One way in which they were tested was by my own selfish desire to hurry things along. This desire is particularly deceptive because it often masquerades as a desire to accomplish things for God's glory. However, by prayerful examination, it becomes clear that it is more akin to a desire for my own glory than for God's glory.I confess that in the pride of my heart, I longed for the gratification of a pat on the back for a job well done. Although I knew that if I would just be faithful to work in God's way, He would reward me; still, it's nice to be appreciated by men too. There is always that image in the back of the missionary's mind of being able to return to the states and tell of his accomplishments and his exploits to the amazement and the congratulations of his audience. This temptation must be resisted though, knowing that at the moment we win the approval of men, we loose the approval of God.

My convictions were also tested by the "apparent" success of those who didn't share my understanding of how missions should be carried out. There was an occasion when a group of Pentecostal missionaries came into the town in which we were living. They were there for about a week having "evangelistic" services each night. When they left at the end of the week, they had a church going with a pastor (who just one week before was an unsaved Roman Catholic) and a fairly large congregation.

Now that will make you examine your methods! I was not having that kind of instant success.That drove me back to the Word and prayer. In prayer, the Lord reminded me of the parable of the sower and the soils in Matt.13. He reminded me that plants in unprepared, rocky soil spring up quickly, and that weeds grow where there is no cultivation of the soil, but a fruitful and desirable crop requires hard work and careful cultivation. So, I survived to plant on for another day.

My resolves were tested by other missionaries also. Although we didn't live near other missionaries, there were others within a two or three hour drive. One who had been on the field for more than twenty years, sent word that he wanted to talk to me. When I went to his house, he began to show me the statistics he had been keeping on the responses to his ministry. He pointed out that the numbers clearly showed that the response was much greater when he showed films than when he preached. He said:"Based on these numbers I am changing over almost exclusively to movies in my evangelism." He went on to offer his services to me, to show his films in my works to help me get more results in my ministry.

That kinda put me on the spot. I didn't want to be critical of his ministry, but at the same time, I felt I had to refuse his offer. "Why not?" he said. "The numbers speak for themselves. Don't you want to have more people saved?" (My opinion on that question would require another post, so I won't go into detail here.) I said; "Of course I want to see more people saved, but I determined when I came to the field, that I wanted to see if God would still build a 'work' through prayer and the preaching of His Word alone like He did before movies were available." This is no exaggeration. He exploded! He verbally attacked me, my ministry, my motives and my methods. I tried to remain calm, as I said;"Brother, if you are convinced in your heart that this is the way God is directing your ministry, then I will not criticize you for it.(I guess I kinda lied on that one, because I have been critical of his methods.Sorry!) However that is not the way God has directed my ministry so thanks, but no,thanks."

Mission work is spiritual warfare, folks; and..." the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." (2Cor.10:4 )

11 comments:

Even So... said...

he exploded

That says it all right there, he apprently was, well, you know...

Looking forward to more, thank you for doing this...

BTW, where were you at this time?

Jeremy Weaver said...

Great posts!

Garry Weaver said...

"...he apparently was, well, you know..."

What, Jim? Come on. Say It. Mean? Yes he was. Arminian? Yep, that too. Out of place on the mission field? In my opinion, definitely.

Thanks for the kind words.

The state of Veracruz, Old Mexico. We lived in a town of about 12,000 people. The name of the town is Santiago Tuxtla.

Steve Weaver said...

Another good one I'm glad I told people to come over!

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Great post. Stick to the good old-fashioned Word of God and you won't go wrong!

Live, Love, Laugh said...

Nicholas is exactly right, the Word is first and foremost, nothing should take it's place in equipping the saints.

I recently posted about churches who are relying on the latest quirky sayings, opinions and technology and never even opening the Word.

I enjoy your blog immensely. Continue in the work God has put you in!

Kim said...

Showing movies? What about God's word?

I'm really enjoying these posts, Garry.

When you were on the mission field, did you have your children yet?

Betty said...

Good morning.
Thank you for visiting my blog, I know how busy you are.
So much to read on your blog but I really agree with you and learn from you.

Thank you,
Betty G

Cameron Cloud said...

I'm sure you've experienced it, but the same mentality is rampant among pastors as well as missionaries. Thanks for sharing this. It's refreshing to read someone with an evangelistic heart, but a scriptural perspective of methods.

Garry Weaver said...

Steve, Nicholas,LLL,
Thanks for reading, commenting and the encouraging words.

Kim,
Thanks for the encouragement. We first went to the field in Jan. of 1984. We went under-supported and struggled through a year and a half. The boys were young and Elizabeth was a baby.
We were off the field until 1992. When we went to the state of Veracruz, Steve had graduated from high school,and was with us for the 1st 6 months. Jeremy was 16 and was with us for almost 3 years. Elizabeth was with us the whole time.

Betty,
You are too kind.

Cameron,
You're kidding!? There are actually pastors who don't have confidence in the sufficiency of God's Word?
Just kidding. I know there are. They talk of a desire to "win souls", but their true zeal is for numbers. The gimmicks they use to help things along will get the numbers; but God will use only the faithful exposition of His Word to bring men to a true saving faith.

Daniel said...

Ah the "pragmatic" missionary.

Wonderfully insightful, especially for those who have ministered and known that ugly hunger for the praise of men. Thanks for sharing.