Archive for October, 2011

God Can Use Us “Along the way”

Monday, October 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized

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In August I went to Korea to speak at the Global Mission Society’s 100th anniversary.  It was a wonderful chance to address many missionaries of the largest missionary sending agency in the country.

As I reflected on my trip, a number of personal encounters stood out as much as the actual speaking times.

For example, on the flight from Orlando to Atlanta, I sat next to a woman named Carmen.  She slept most of the trip, but as we were landing she awakened.  After a few minutes of conversation I asked her if she read very much.  She said “yes”, and I gave her a copy of an evangelistic book because I assumed she was not a Christian.

Then she said, “Thanks, God bless you.”  I asked if she was a Christian.  She said “yes.”  I asked if she was active in a local church.  She sheepishly said, “no.”  I suggested an excellent church near her in Orlando.  She said she would visit there soon and thanked me for taking the time to help her.

When Jerry, my assistant, and I arrived at the Incheon Airport, we were greeted by Hau and Choi, GMS missionaries in Southeast Asia.  They brought along their seven-year-old daughter Hwi, who reminded me of my grandchildren.

Over the course of the conference Jerry and I got to know their stories, dreams and challenges.  We arranged to arrive back at the Incheon Airport early to have coffee with them and pray.  On the ride there Hwi drew some pictures and gave them to me.  It is hard to adequately express in a few written words the depth of connection we experienced.

As we parted there were hugs, and they went down the escalator from the restaurant.  Jerry and I went to the balcony and waved good-bye as they walked through the ticket-counter area to the front door.  Several times Hwi looked back to see if we were still watching them.  We waved again and again until they were out of sight.

On the flight from Incheon to Atlanta, Jerry and I struck up a conversation about the talks I gave at the GMS conference.  That led to the topic of what it really means to be a missional Christian.  We concluded that Christians must live out the Christian life, love the people around them and take proactive steps to minister to others in ways consistent with the opportunities God gives each person.

Shortly after, a man came up from the row behind us. He had been listening to our conversation and said, “I am a Christian and am doing some things to serve God, but I am not fully surrendered to the will of God for my life.  I want to be, but I know I’m holding back.”

We must have talked for half an hour.  We found out the man was a highly skilled developer of business opportunities.  He could size up situations, arrange for needed resources and help drive new projects to implementation.  He also pastored a small local church part-time.

The conversation ranged from understanding the Lordship of Christ to maximizing the use of his gifts to help fulfill the Great Commission.  I gave him some materials to understand how the Spirit-filled life works practically.  Jerry shared some great insights he had learned.  At the end of the conversation we arranged to send him some more materials and talked about the possibility of his helping our ministry embark on new projects.

As I reflect back on the trip, I find myself thanking God for the privilege of touching lives “along the way”.  Oh, by the way, I did speak three times in plenary sessions at the GMS conference.  And I met with various leaders.

But I am so grateful that God kept me alert to divine appointments.  Jesus helped blind Bartimaeus “along the way” to somewhere else.  He touched the life of the woman who had been subject to bleeding “along the way” to helping Jairus’ daughter.

To be honest, I can easily get so focused on where I am going that I miss God’s “along the way” opportunities.  Maybe that happens to you sometimes as well.  Let’s commit together to ask God for special sensitivity to notice all that He has for us to do – even “along the way.”

Steve