Sunday, March 1, 2009

Making A Difference?


You may have heard the story of the man who encountered a young boy while taking a walk along the seashore. The tide had brought in a huge number of starfish. Wave after wave deposited scores of the curiously shaped creatures on the beach as each wave crashed ashore and then receded. The starfish would die left high and dry upon the shore.

The man watched with interest as the young boy ran frantically from place to place on the beach, picking up individual starfish and heaving them back into the sea with all his might. This activity continued unabated as the boy threw the creatures back into the sea, saving them from certain death, while each wave brought more and more to the shore. The task was overwhelming, seemingly hopeless, yet the boy continued his mission with all his might.

Finally the man asked the boy, “What are you doing son?”

“I’m saving these starfish from death, sir”, the boy replied breathlessly.

“But it is a losing battle”, the man countered. “They are coming ashore faster than you can rescue them! The task is too great. Do you really think what you are doing is making a difference?”

The boy paused for a moment and looked at the starfish he held in his hand. “It makes a difference to THIS ONE!” he said, as he flung it back into the ocean.

Pretty powerful message…

We will be headed home later today after two long weeks of travel and mission work here in the Philippines. The four members of our team have taken time from their personal lives, jobs, and families to come to this island, half a world away from their comfortable homes. Each member has spent months raising the funds necessary to purchase plane tickets, pay for rooms, food and ground transportation while here.

Why?

Certainly not for the adventure nor for the novelty of the experience, and certainly not for a vacation. Each of us have done this before. It is simply a small effort on our part to be involved in the Great Commission work of God’s Church. It is an opportunity for us to be involved in the “uttermost part of the earth” portion of the mission. Each of us have had our eyes opened anew to the tremendous task that lies before the church. Each of us will be better “home missionaries” as a result of our experiences here.

Lots of money, time and effort have gone into this project. We shared the Gospel with hundreds of people, given away many Bibles and Gospel literature. As a result of the last two weeks work, fifty-seven precious people have come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It begs the question, “What are 57 in light of the billions on earth who are perishing without Christ? Is that really making a difference?”

The answer is, of course, it makes a difference to these 57 individuals. An eternal difference!

Jesus underscores the importance of “one” in His teaching recorded in Luke 15, when He taught in parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. We thank God for 57 reasons for the Angels to rejoice these past few days. All of these new believers now have eternal life. All of them now have abundant life. All of them now have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Some have been delivered from dangerous lost lifestyles. Many have come from a religion of empty ritual and mystery into a personal relationship with their creator.

The mission is not over. Far from it. This particular effort is coming to a close, but the great task still lies before us. Our team will be leaving the Philippines today, but we will still be encountering people all the way home. Each of them have one common need. Each of them need Jesus.

The six and one half billion people on planet earth have that same eternal need. The beggars on the streets of Dumaguete City serve as a reminder to me of the truth that the mission of Christianity is simply the act of one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. As the Church, we have that treasure to share.

Thank you for helping us in this short term mission work.

Thank you for giving to your church to support vocational missionaries at home and around the globe.

Thank you for sharing the Gospel with those who need to hear the good news and for being personally involved in missions.

May we never grow weary in the work. May we never ease up. May we former beggars look for opportunities all around us to tell the other beggars where they can find bread.

It can make a difference. It can change the world.

One life at a time.

1 comment:

Darrell Clark said...

If only one, it would have been worth it all! May God be glorified for your efforts and work for Him!!
Our prayers continue to be with you, Thamer, Rick, and Joey as you return and continue to serve Him in your "normal", everyday activities. May God be praised!
Darrell.