As a full time Medical Missionary couple we are often exiled in some rather uncomfortable situations but as you know being a missionary, sufferings, hardships and trials are a part of the work in serving God and our fellow brothers and sisters.
So seeing this is what ministry entails, it’s not a surprise to me that a lot of people in this world are not willing to trade their regular life for a life of faith and service. I have met a number of individuals who dream of becoming a missionary but not to the extent to which my wife and I are involved in ministry. So why am I saying all of this. Well this recent incidence changed our approach to ministry completely. Here is the story.
We were low on money and we had about ¼ tank of gas in our miracle car and so I decided that we will not be able to go to the regular church where we usually go to. It’s too far a drive (25 miles). So I googled a church nearby and to our convenience we found one that was only 6 miles away. Perfect.
We packed our lunch that Sabbath morning and off we went. After a few wrong turns we found the church. The members seem rather warm and friendly towards us. For me personally, it was a breath of fresh air to be in church and be in the pew listening, seeing that usually I am the one preaching.
The preacher got up to preach and I noticed he has a picture of Jesus on the Cross on his slide. He is a missionary in the 10/40 window (Muslim and communist area of the world). He gave a report of how much people in this part of the world has heard and the ones who have not yet heard about Jesus Christ or even the Seventh day Adventist Church for that matter. After he was done with the mission report he began to expound on the story of the cross.
I remember him distinctly saying “We have to view the cross from the Jewish perspective if we will ever fully understand its’ significance in Christianity.” I have never heard that before, so I was at the edge of my seat.
Every point He made was established from scripture. One verse at a time.
My wife and I were really unreserved with our loud amens as he preached the word. He also related a story about a Muslim man that he was giving Bible studies to. He said that this sermon we are hearing is what he shared with the Muslim man, and he told us that when the Muslim man heard it, he wept when he saw the love that Jesus showed on the cross.
Well at the end of the sermon we learnt that the Muslim man died before he was baptized but he died a believer. The man died of an illness and on his death bed he said that he would rather die and know what he knows now about Jesus than to be in health and not know the story of the Cross. At his death bed in the hospital the mans brother asked the preacher if he could be the one to preach at the funeral service.
My wife and I were weeping in tears of joy to know what when Christ was on the Cross, He was doing it for me. It should have been me on that Cross, the innocent Lamb of God was slain for a wretch like me.
However, at the end of the sermon, something really disturbed me. Instead of making an appeal, he reminded the congregation of the envelops that were distributed earlier. Instead of calling us to make a recommitment to Christ, he asked us to dig deep in our pockets. I was so disturbed I stood in the midst of the collection of offerings and said “Brother, can we first have an appeal and have the church rededicate their lives to Christ and pray before dealing with financial offerings?” Then I went ahead to the altar with my wife crying not out of emotion but out of gratitude for God’s amazing love that was told on the cross.
To my surprise, the preacher responded with these words “Thank you for the rebuke brother, the Holy Spirit used you to rebuke me.”
After the service I went to apologize to the pastor just in case, but he assured me that it was alright. Honestly I can relate to the need for donations for ministry but I pledged a long time ago that I will always put God first and to never use the pulpit to solicit money for ministry. If I am invited to preach I will do just that. Preach. When God touches the heart to give then they will give. But I don’t need to manipulate the sermon to reach peoples pocket for ministry.
I had lunch with him and he said to me “You from Jamaica, right?” I said yes.
“How did you know?” I asked.
He replied, “Well, I have an adopted son who is a Jamaican and he is just like you, stern and very assertive when he speaks.”
I showed him my ministry card with our name and related to him why I was really blessed by the sermon. My wife and I are medical missionaries and we share to the world and the church, the uplifted Christ who was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquity…and BY HIS STRIPES, we are healed.
Ever since hearing his discourse, my sermons, health lectures and even Bible studies that I lead out in has never been the same.
Christ has now become the center of every cooking school, sermon, Bible study, health lecture and even a mere word of encouragement to someone. Everywhere we travel and minister to others about the cross, we have seen people cry tears of joy and happiness.
We have gotten phone calls from an alcoholic who is now saying NO to the bottle. Individuals going thru rough times now have hope because they are learning to “look to Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the CROSS!
The Cross, The Cross!
On a hill far away stood an OLD RUGGED CROSS! Ill cherish the OLD RUGGED CROSS!
Now I understand why I need to deny self and TAKE UP MY CROSS.
All the way to CALVARY he went for me! For you!
There are millions in Church who are just like me, going through the motions of religion, looking nice in church but have not come to the cross and meet Jesus! Self has not yet died!
But Paul’s experience is worthy of emulation when he said, “I am crucified with CHRIST: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Christ’s life was one of constant self-sacrifice. He had no home in this world except as the kindness of friends providing for Him as a wayfarer. He came to live in our behalf the life of the poorest and to walk and work among the needy and the suffering. Unrecognized and unhonored, He walked in and out among the people for whom He had done so much. MH 19.2
So is it true that “ALL things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose?”
Yes. If my tank was not low on fuel I would have missed that life-changing sermon.