Life: God's Renewable resource
abandoned to his call
by Mark McPeak
At the Mission, we believe these next months and years are some of the most critical in our history. If each of us is willing to be obedient to His call, God can do mighty things through us.
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"HE IS NO FOOL WHO GIVES what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot was only 22 when he wrote these words in his journal on October 28, 1949. Seven years later he proved he meant them. Elliot and four friends were murdered by the Auca Indians whom they were trying to reach with the gospel.
The history of the Church is filled with stories of people like Jim Elliot who abandon everything to follow the Lord. The example was set by our Lord Himself. He abandoned paradise and laid aside His glory to redeem us (Philippians 2:6-8). He gave His all.
In 2008, International Missions will use the theme Abandoned to His Call. We may never be called upon to give our lives in the way Jim Elliot did, or in the manner of many of our own missionaries. However, it should be costly for us to rise to the call He has placed on us as a people. At the Mission, we believe these next months and years are some of the most critical in our history. If each of us is willing to be obedient to His call, God can do mighty things through us.
A Movement of God
“Contrary to popular belief, Islam is not the fastest growing religion; it is evangelical Christianity,” according to Patrick Johnstone, best known for the prayer guide Operation World. In his upcoming book, The Future of World Evangelization in the 21st Century, Johnstone predicts the 21st century is likely to resemble the first three centuries of the Church and be characterized by massive global growth (GMI World, Fall 2007).
God is moving in our world, calling people to Himself in unprecedented multitudes. Free Will Baptists must do our part in this global surge. In fact, God is already moving on the hearts of our people, calling them to abandon themselves to reach the lost. In record numbers, they are answering. More young people than ever in our history are expressing interest and making preparation to serve overseas.
Dr. Neil Gilliland, director of member care at International Missions, recently discussed their passion with some of these young people. “They asked some challenging questions we are going to be called upon to answer,” Neil recalls. “First, will you send us to the hard places?” Like Jim Elliot, many students today are willing to abandon the comforts of home in favor of a passion to reach the most unreached.
These students are looking for opportunities to spread the gospel in dangerous and difficult places. Many will serve in creative or restricted access areas—where they cannot enter as missionaries. What a privilege for Free Will Baptists to send dedicated workers to these new frontiers, where there are so few believers!
Their second sobering question, according to Dr. Gilliland, is “Will there be adequate resources to send us?” Young Free Will Baptists have watched our missionaries labor to raise enough money to follow their calling. Fundraising has been especially grueling for young, newly appointed workers who start from zero to build their support.
I watched recently as David and Angie Outlaw and their five children made final preparations to leave for Central Asia. Even though they are extraordinarily gifted, David and Angie worked for over a year to raise the necessary support for a four-year term.
The Outlaws are typical Americans in many ways. They have friends at school and church. The boys play baseball, and dad helps coach. They like to go out for pizza and watch their favorite programs on TV. But they’re leaving it all. They seem crazy to some people; they are forsaking their home, two sets of loving grandparents, other family support, and lifelong friends. Why? Because they have abandoned everything to answer the call of God on their lives.
Who Is Called?
So, what about the rest of us? Is the challenge to be Abandoned to His Call just for intrepid young people? Is it just for missionaries like the Outlaw family? Or does Jim Elliot’s challenge apply to you and me?
Giving up what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose…isn’t this wisdom for us all?
As you see Abandoned to His Call throughout 2008, don’t just think of individuals who have left all to take the gospel around the world. Immediately after the Apostle Paul declared in Romans 10:13 “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” he described God’s plan and the people He will use to tell the world His good news.
The Preacher and the Sender
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Like Elliot, our “wave” of young candidates, and the Outlaws, God calls people to go and tell—even to the hard places.
Paul’s logic continues, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” It’s amazing to think that God has entrusted His gospel to this plan and system. He calls some of us to go, from everywhere to everywhere with His message. He calls the rest of us to send. In fact, Paul implies there is no going without sending.
“I believe God blessed America and the West with great prosperity for one purpose,” proposed Trula Cronk, veteran missionary to India. “He gave us so much, so we could use it to take the gospel to those in the world who so desperately needed it.” I will never forget her conclusion, “I’m afraid when we stand before God we’ll be ashamed to answer for our stewardship. We took what He gave us for the nations and used it for ourselves.”
Why aren’t we willing to give up what we cannot keep? Our houses get larger, our possessions multiply. After all, He has blessed us hasn’t He? All the while, people around the world have no one to tell them about eternity. Those who want to go seem always to lack the resources they need. This is a challenge for me. It is a challenge for you.
Trula’s words, combined with Paul’s, help me understand there is a “call” for each of us to obey. We are all called to participate in the “giving up,” in the “abandon.” The preachers who go and the senders who support—we must each obey so the world can know His love and His great name.
Are you Abandoned to His Call?
ABOUT THE WRITER: Mark McPeak has served as director of communications for Free Will Baptist International Missions since April 2005.