Today I wrote a check and popped it in the mail (yes, snail mail, if you can believe it). A friend of mine, one of my Bible study girlfriends, is making preparations to head back to the mission field. She and her husband are in transition at the moment, spending these last few months stateside raising funds for their new assignment. As I write the check I can't help but be grateful both for her eager obedience but also for the ability to offer some financial support, however small. Our gift is an investment in the kingdom and my husband and I are glad for the privilege.
We, along with our church, support several missionary families serving the Lord overseas, some of them in parts of the world considered risky, maybe even dangerous, some in areas that regularly make the evening newscast. We not only send our money but we also pray for them, our friends and partners in the gospel. At many a Wednesday night prayer meeting we as a church ask the Lord to grant them boldness and courage as they take the good news of Jesus to the far corners of the planet. We speak of their exploits, as well as their challenges, with a kind of reverent amazement and we boast in the Lord's faithfulness to call and to send and to save. They are real believers, it seems to me, as I compare my comfortable timidity to their courageous sacrifice.
I have a friend here, a mom like me, someone I admire very much and not just because she is smart and funny and gregarious and able to make everyone feel as if they are her very best friend (and they probably are). I certainly do admire her for all of those things (that I am not) but I think I admire her most because she has a circle of friends who are not Christians but who unequivocally know she is and yet they remain the very best and truest of friends. She will laugh at herself and say perhaps she argues a little too much but the truth of the matter is that there's a reason they know exactly what she believes: she tells them. Not just once in some sort of awkward "now sit down and be quiet and let me ask you about what would happen if you died tonight" sort of conversation. No, she speaks the gospel into their lives with courage and compassion. And, yes, maybe she even argues with them a little. Her faith is clearly defined and lived and told.
I think of my missionary friends and how fervently we pray for both boldness and opportunity for them but how little I ask for or seek such opportunities for myself. If I am honest I must admit I am quick to think of the gospel as for the world: Yes, Lord, please help my missionary friends and yes, please, save the people groups they serve, the Muslims in the Middle East and the college students in the former Soviet bloc and those in the jungles of South America who have never heard of You--save them for Your glory and Your kingdom! When I pray for the world I ask for a great harvest for the kingdom and I believe the Lord can and will use these missionaries, my heroic and hopeful friends, to make the kind of difference there, in their mission field, that will ripple throughout eternity.
In this I am correct. The gospel is for the world, yes, indeed. My missionary friends will tell you the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. Our praying and giving and going are important, critical, to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
But sometimes I forget the gospel is for car lines and soccer games and play groups and neighbors across the street. In other words, my world. The good news that Jesus saves sinners is for me, praise be to God; it's also for the world across the oceans as well as the world at my doorstep. The harvest is plentiful here too. We who believe on the Lord Jesus each have a mission and a message and an opportunity, no matter our address. Our courage to go and tell is just as critical and as necessary, even if we are only going across town.
I am a wimp, I told you, a comfortable and timid wimp. How I want the boldness of my friends! How I want a faith that is clearly lived and told! Maybe I won't take the gospel to the nations but I can take it to the pregnancy center and to the bank and to my son's soccer game and to Bible study and to wherever else I go, whatever it is I find to do. Here am I, Lord. Send me.
What about you? Are you a bold witness like my friend? Or would you say you're like me, timid and comfortably so? Do you find it easy to speak of the gospel with friends who do not believe? What encourages you to be generous with the good news? How can we learn to be bold in our testimony of Lord's saving grace?