During our preparation we heard so many discouraging comments like, “We love you, but if you decide not to work with us, it won’t be a big deal” and were asked questions like “Where are you going again?” and “Now, I know I’ve met you, but who are you?” We had big dreams of what a sponsoring congregation would be like. We thought our ministry to Cambodia would be promoted, that we’d be a huge part of the church during our initial stay and that people would never forget us (especially while we were working with the church)! We soon learned that our expectations had been terribly wrong. People have their own lives. Do not expect them to get very wrapped up in yours. Churches have so many things going. Do not expect to be what’s going on. You will be forgotten. You will be overlooked. You will NOT be the center of attention. Work hard at building good relationships, go about your ministry and preparation, and seek to receive affirmation solely from God. With those godly expectations, you will not be disappointed.
Another aspect of this idea is the fact that you are such a small part of a person’s decision to follow Christ. God has been working on each individual from the day they were born (and even before!), and you are just a part of His plan. He gives each person so many chances to know and find Him. You are one of those chances. It is important to realize that it is not about saying the most persuasive thing in the best, most eloquent way. Your job is speaking as God directs, approaching people as God guides you, and trusting that He loves and cares about that person so much more than you do. You might have the most convincing argument for Christ, but if that person’s heart is hard, nothing you say will hit home. God is responsible for that person, and you are responsible to God. Concern yourself with preparing to talk with others, but spend much more time seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord and asking for and listening to His voice and direction.
This idea transfers, I think, to the mission field. It matters not how many baptisms you had this month. You cannot be held responsible for someone’s personal decision. You must work hard to reach as many as you can, to love deeply each soul you come in contact with. Do not, however, lay the burden of a person’s decision to convert on your own training, persuasiveness, or ability. As always, trust in God and what He is doing in that person, not in yourself.
Picture from www.bettyladuke.com