16 Oct Incessant Call
Does my responsibility in God’s mission end when I have fulfilled my role in an EU/EGF committee or as a missionary student? Does it end by taking up a job as a tent maker or by joining a mission organization? Does it end after my marriage, in my middle age, with my retirement or after I reach 60? Or does it go on till my death? These are pertinent questions that may arise in a believer’s mind.
I am writing this article at 62, after my retirement as a College Professor. I still feel the freshness of God’s call and sense that His expectation is very high in my life. Many think that they have accomplished something after being an ICEU/EGF committee member or a leader in an organization. The reality is a BIG NO!
My commitment to God has to be fresh every morning until my death. God would like to use me until my last breath. 2 Tim 4:2 states, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction”. Abraham and Paul are good examples of this.
Milestones of Life
We can pray, “Dear Lord, I am available. Please use me for Your Kingdom’s glory.” A few practical suggestions: Go for higher studies as a missionary student to an unreached place. Choose a place of work as your mission field if God’s calling is very clear or apply for jobs in needy places as tent makers where the gospel has not reached. You can write a book if you have writing skills or even write a missionary biography. You can encourage others to involve in mission work by preaching and teaching God’s Word or involve in counselling. You can regularly pray for God’s servants, contribute towards God’s ministry, or take up pastoring.
When a person becomes a believer by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as his/her personal Saviour, the joy of the Lord fills his/her heart and it overflows. He/she would love to share the good news to others. But gradually, the bubbling joy turns cold. Many are content to be Sunday church-goers. Let us not forget that Jesus Christ is our best example. He should be our role model. God’s mission through Jesus Christ began with preaching (Matt 4:17) and went on in different dimensions till He was crucified. After His resurrection, He encouraged His disciples to share the Good News by going and making disciples of all nations. The Lord’s work is for our life time. It goes on from generation to generation through His disciples (like you and me) until the Lord’s Second Coming.
Jesus Christ involved in various missions like healing, preaching, teaching and counselling. He went to villages, churches, street corners, market places and to other places wherever he found needy persons and had compassion on people. He never restricted his dimension of reaching others with excuses like “I am good in teaching, not preaching”, “I am good in counselling, not in healing ministry”, or “I am good in evangelism, not pastoring” and so on.
God’s mission is to fulfill God’s expectation in all of my situations, at all ages, until death, in whatever way He wants to use me.
Jonah 1:1 says that God’s word came to Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah 3:1 says, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’” Twice, Jonah received God’s call to go to Nineveh. The love and concern of God towards the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4:11) leads Jonah to hear God’s voice continuously. The incessant call of God fulfills His purpose and not our purpose.
Qualification is Immaterial
Jonah had no merit to be used by God because he disobeyed. Yet, he was chosen by God for Nineveh’s repentance. Acts 8:3 says that “Saul … Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” But, Acts 9:15 reveals that Saul was a chosen vessel of God “to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel”. Through this we know that Saul had no qualification to serve God, yet God’s purpose was to use him for His glory. In the same way, Peter denied Jesus Christ three times (Matt 26:69-75). Yet, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” three times. Jesus restores Peter from his fallen nature to a resurrected nature and chose him to initiate revival (Acts 2:14-47).
Non-stop Internal Urge
God called Abraham (Gen 12:1), “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you,” and Abraham obeyed. In Genesis 13:16, God promised Abraham, “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth”. When he was childless, Abraham trusted God (Genesis 15:6). However, the carnal nature in Abraham prompted him to say, “Will a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” God encouraged Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). In their old age, Abraham and Sarah gave birth to a child. When Abraham was happy with his child Isaac, God wanted to test Abraham (Genesis 22:1-2) to find out his priority. God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son whom you love – Isaac – and … sacrifice him”. Abraham obeyed. But God said to Abraham, “… through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me”. Abraham becomes the Father of Faith. These incidents show the continuous conversation Abraham had with God through which came his call, blessings, and promise. The continuous submission of Abraham pleased God. If we are willing to hear God’s still small voice, we will obey Him and we can be used by God to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives.
Missionaries’ life of incessant perseverance
Many missionaries heard God’s voice and obeyed Him and came to India from different countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among them is William Carey, “The Father of Missions in India”. Through relentless effort, he learnt Bengali, Hindi and other regional languages. He translated the Bible into Bengali, Punjabi, Oriya, Assamese, Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit. Not only did he involve in translation ministry, he also brought about social reformation in India when he entered India in 1793 at the age of 32. On 11 March, 1812, a fire in the print shop caused damages and many translated manuscripts were destroyed. He did not stop his mission. Instead, he prayed and started the work all over again without wasting a moment in self-pity. God’s love prepared him to persevere when he faced challenges in his personal life like losing his family members.
Similarly, when Ziegenbalg landed on 9 July 1706 in Tranquebar, i.e., Tharangambadi, a small town near Nagapattinam, in South India, he faced lots of hardships. He was not recognized by fellow members and authorities. Later he started to learn the Tamil language and began the translation of the Bible and other literature into Tamil. He was imprisoned and miscreants plotted to kill him. He could have questioned, “Why Lord?”. Instead, he continued his work. He died at the age of 36 in 1719. He had spent only about 13 years, but his work was remarkable in God’s sight. God expects us to continuously submit to His Call and His Kingdom’s extension!
Dr R Moses Inbaraj, former Head of the Department of Zoology, Madras Christian College, and EGF member in Chennai. Early days, he studied and worked at Banaras Hindu University as a witnessing student as well as a faculty. His wife Dr Madhana Rekha is working as a faculty in MCC. He has two children, Amy and Andrew. Amy is married and working as a government medical doctor and Andrew is a software professional at Bangalore.