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 )