The month of October finds many WMF members in fields of service around the world. Present difficulties with individual health issues or the effects of inclement weather have not discouraged God’s people from attending to Kingdom matters. The desire to fulfill the great commission is an unquenchable passion for those who have had their sins washed away in the blood of Jesus. In this season when so many of our ministers are building schools and medical facilities, teaching ministers abroad, feeding orphans, holding open-air crusades, digging wells and providing financial support to overseas nationals, oh what a joy it is to know that we are doing the works of Jesus amid all these things.
On one occasion, Jesus sent his workers into towns and villages two-by-two. People were set free from demon power, others were healed. All were edified. The two-by-two arrangement affords mutual reinforcement for Jesus’ witnesses. God certainly gives boldness; but it is also a blessing to have another person with you to give you confidence and to witness the signs and wonders that will attend the proclamation of the Gospel. Now is not the time to close your mouth, but to speak loudly. Paul and Silas prayed and praised in prison. All the prisoners were freed by their audacious act. Despite prisoner belief in Roman gods and cults, the two Apostles made God’s name great in the earth where they were dwelling: a prison.
The Lord expects no less from us who are free. Somebody’s deliverance is dependent upon what you will do. So pray and praise Him in good times and in bad ones, but always evangelize, whether it is achieved in prayer, sermon or in song!
II Timothy 3:16-17 characterizes God’s word as a set of inspired texts and documents. The importance of this verse needs to be underscored. Coupled with Jesus’ Great Commission, it is understandable why multitudes have taken upon themselves the tedious but time-consuming task of learning languages that are not native to them. Not a few persons have died in pursuit of the goal of translating and teaching Bible texts to small and large groups of people. Island after island had seen visitors reach their shore in order to announce the Gospel. Some of them were killed quickly; others did not set foot in their homelands again. The countless testimonies of these daring acts are startling.
When Jesus said Go, his main concern was the evangelism of all the various ethnic groups around the world. The knowledge of God’s plan of salvation must overspread the earth. As this occurs, then shall the end come (Mat. 24:14). The account of the history of redemption is given often in short messages preached in the Acts of the Apostles. These folk preached passionately about the death of Jesus and of his resurrection. Even then the recipients needed much more than a sermon to continue their Christian growth. So the apostles wrote letters and inscribed words of exhortations for the believers they led to the Lord. For generations Holy men and women of the Lord were moved by God to speak. For generations their historical and prophetic statements were preserved for future believers. The canon of scripture reveals and safeguards God’s eternal mind, his will, his mighty works and his wisdom. So we should do our best to spread the word about his power, and to support those who smuggle Bibles into closed countries.
Knowing beforehand that His words would be recorded and read, Jesus empowered his followers with the Holy Ghost to persist in their missionary witness despite the hardships incurred. They hazarded their lives to go to people who spoke different idioms (Acts 14:11). What the locals heard from these strangers changed them forever: the miracles they saw were real: a crippled man leaped and walk as he heard the story of Jesus. Surely something of Jesus’ remarkable power was told to them. The faith the apostles had in the indwelling Christ was authentic: it was founded on the word that dwelt richly in their heart in all wisdom. Had they not known the texts of Genesis-Malachi and more, there would have been no way to tell of all the passages that Christ’s life, death and resurrection fulfilled.
Peter’s sermons are proof of this point. Paul also was able to communicate these truths in more than one language (cf. Acts 21:37-40; 22:1ff.). The Roman captain of the guard was startled that Paul knew his dialect; but when you learn someone’s language you are able to touch his or heart. Holy Scripture in the mother tongue of any host-country national can say in far better ways what any non-native speakers may attempt to utter. I have seen this first-hand. Over a decade ago I was in Canada, and I watched the mouths of some Chaldean folks drop to the floor as I began to share the story (in Syriac) of Nicodemus meeting Jesus. None of them ever had met a black guy who knew Syriac. All my conversations with them were easier after than brief devotional. Again, years ago in South America I sat in a meeting where some Bible translators were celebrating the publication of the New Testament in an Amerindian language it had taken the translators 14 years to learn BEFORE they could initiate the translation process. My heart broke as I listened to the hardships they endured. They bore it all patiently for the Gospel’s sake.
Let’s hope that in WMF missions that we, too, can remember those who translate texts in far away districts and who transport scripture to regions where hardships and privations are great. Here at the office, aiding those who do such exploits is of importance and should not be ignored. So please make every effort to facilitate our activities in WMF missions even as we strive to strengthen the hands of those who have made their calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).
Brother Darrell Sutton
Jesus’ Appearances in Missionary Work
With the annual ‘Easter/Resurrection Day behind us, it is good to remember that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is a weekly reminder for us, too, that Jesus lives. It is easy to forget that vital point when we get caught up in all the holiday bliss. The fact that he lives still needs to be told outside of the sanctuary. Each of the gospels provide information of Jesus’ indoor and outdoor evangelism within Israel; each of them also explain in great detail his death and resurrection from the dead. In addition to the Gospel portraits, The Acts of the Apostles offer accounts of post-ascension appearances of the King of Kings: Stephen saw Jesus just before his stone-stricken death (7:56); but Christ appeared to Paul in a vision to inform Paul that he was not alone (18:9-10). Of course manifestations like these are helpful in missionary efforts. They certainly are encouraging to all those who learn of them. Each appearance proves that the Lord continues to labor in harvest fields around the world, even if/when we are unaware of his covert operations.
On account of these acts, short-term and long-term missionaries have reason to rejoice. I often hear of stories similar to the ones noted above. Several years ago I was in Ankara, Turkey preaching at a fellowship filled with missionaries. During the trip my host and I spent an evening with a number of the workers in that country. Always wanting information on what God is up to on foreign soil, I pulled one worker aside privately and inquired of him, ‘what are some of the supernatural things you have heard of recently there in Turkey?’ This question was a delicate matter. I was in a prominent international church, which often includes some missionary personnel sent out by denominations who yet teach ‘cessationism’: i.e., the idea that miracles ceased with the death of the last apostle. However, the man to whom I was speaking rattled off one story after another regarding appearances of the Lord to Muslim people in dreams and visions. Divine help, oh what a blessing!
I praised God at what I had heard because two decades prior, when I lived in Istanbul for 16 months, the overseer of our fellowship was a Turk who had been formerly a Muslim, until Jesus appeared to him in his small village home and told him to go and purchase a Bible and to read the Gospel of John. The gentleman had never met or seen a Christian. He definitely had no idea that a Christian bookstore was anywhere in the vicinity.
These notes are merely another form of encouragement to all WMF members who are involved with missions of any sort. My exhortation is simple: keep praying and believing. Press on; do not be discouraged. Do not let burdensome monetary concerns and health matters frustrate the grace of God now at work in you. Quite naturally one may think ‘it is easy to write these things when you are not facing my predicaments’. True, but Apostles and Pastors face various issues in their attempts to raise funds for missionary projects. Monies that are needed may or may not be available to them when the ‘need’ is greatest; traveling ministers too feel constrained by budgets often. Still, believers are commanded by God not to fret, and to remember that they are not alone. The Lord of Hosts is on their side, actively working behind the scenes and as stated in scripture, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Use your faith!
Director of International Missions
P.S. For correspondence specifically related to WMF missions, you may email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.