Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Heart of Christmas: The Good News of Christ and the Ones Who Share It

What I'm sharing today was the "Story of the Week" for Global Outreach International this past Friday. As you read these words, remember that one missionary after another has confirmed their truth. 

Being called by God to do something "out of the ordinary" is not easy. It's not a steady harvest of salvations every day, of people thrilled to have you in their country. 

It's not an absence of spiritual warfare. It's an acceleration. If you think the evil one works hard to defeat you, try being a missionary for a week. It's non-stop, and the creative variations are, frankly, almost unbelievable.


Report from the Prayer Ministry: The Gift of Truth I Didn't Want to Hear 

The battle of prayer ministry is not easy work, nor is much of anything in the kingdom of God.

I'm sharing today's story because it's a hard but beautiful thing that God has done, but also because it's truth. 

Our missionaries have a much harder job than I, and they, too, experience discouragement. They, too, struggle in the midst of service. They, too, consider walking away from the battlefield.

Our prayers are an essential part of their work. They cannot serve without our support.


It had been a hard day. A hard week. A hard few months. A straw that was intended to help had landed as the final straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. 

I was frazzled, exhausted, and, once again, fighting back tears. 

I wasn't ready to quit, exactly, but I was ready to work from home. Ready to retreat to a safe place for a while, in hopes of rediscovering my optimism and enthusiasm, which were sadly missing. 

Faking it is not all that hard, but God knew.

"Lord, I don't know what to do. I need a clear word from You." What I meant was, "Tell me it's okay to quit," but I didn't expect to get that answer.

I probably would have retreated, too, if it hadn't been for the intervention of one praying man and his godly wife. 

A pastor friend helps on my farm. I stopped by the workshop, and he was primed and waiting. He'd been up all night, praying for me, and he and his wife had done the battle of prayer I could not do for myself. He had the words I most needed to hear. (These aren't all the words he said, and maybe not quite how he said them, but they're what I heard.)

"Would you fight the devil himself to save one person? Would you take a beating for one soul?"

I didn't know where he was headed, but I had a feeling it would sting. I nodded, and sank into a chair to listen.

"Then do it. One day at a time. Because the warfare you're experiencing is about the victories that have been won and those that will come. 

"The victories only come, though, if you stay engaged in the battle.

"Not even Jesus battled demons night and day. He went to the mountain and stayed there until He had the strength to go again.

"So stand. Take breaks. Leave early. Walk away when you need to. But fight in place. Go where the battle is the hardest, because that's where you'll win the greatest victories.

"You were born for the battle. You're the one who asked God to make you a rescue ship within a yard of hell. Move the boat right up to the gates and grab some souls. 

"When you need a break, take it, but for the sake of what God is doing, don't walk away from the battleground. 

"There are souls counting on you to fight for them."

He was right, of course. And I didn't walk away. At that moment, all I could do was take one more step of obedience, but one step at a time is all we're called to do, and it was enough.

I can't imagine fighting the devil himself far from those I love most, in a strange country, with strange customs, and a language that is not my own. But our missionaries do it. They wake up in a world to which they were not born, but called. They roll out of bed and do the hard work all over again. Every single day. 

It's harder at Christmas. Families gather back home. Friends celebrate together. On the field, they cobble together a holiday that looks nothing like ours, and still they choose to worship and rejoice.

We are the ones on whom they count to fight for them. We are the ones to whom they look for prayer support. Financial support. Emotional support. So let's do what must be done to help them do what we cannot. Take the good news of Christ to the ends of the earth. Especially at Christmas.

Today, take a moment to pray for the missionaries you know. They are often desperately lonely. They miss home, especially during the holidays. They miss hearing their native language. They miss their families. Their friends.

Stop long enough to make a contribution to their account, no matter how small. It may be the very donation they are desperate to have. It may be the one that puts food on their table or a Bible in the hand of a lost person. 

Even when they've walked by faith for decades, when their bank accounts get low (as in less than $50), they struggle with fear and uncertainty. Their fear is not that God cares, but whether or not people will respond to His prompting to support their ministry financially. 

Send an email. Mail a card. Make a call. Tell them you love them and appreciate their sacrifice. When the only people you see most days are the ones to whom you minister, it's easy to forget that people back home still care. 

I can't count the number of times I've emailed a missionary and had a quick reply that my words were the very ones they most needed to hear. Even a short email can make a huge difference in the life of an often-unappreciated missionary.

There are souls literally around the world counting on us to fight for them, and not all of them are lost souls. Our missionaries are counting on us, too.

Let's honor Christ this year by making sure the news of His coming is spread throughout the world. Let's help the ones who have given their lives to tell others about our God-made-flesh Who loved us enough to dwell among us. 

We can help. Let's be sure we do.

If God leads you to help support this ministry of prayer and outreach, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841 If you'd rather use a check or money order, make it out to Global Outreach. Remember to put "Account 4841" on the "for" line. Mail it to:
Global Outreach
PO Box 1
Tupelo MS 38802
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