It is Missions Week at PRBC … which means a lot of things for me. One of them is that I have been doing some close looking at recent newsletters from our missionaries, trying to pinpoint some very specific ways in which we can highlight each of them for prayer. And I’ve noticed something. Peculiarly, one of the families always includes stories about individuals. They invariably treat us to individual names, individual stories and circumstances, and close up individual photos. Why is that?
I suspect that this family knows what makes for good copy. Names and stories connect a lot better across the ocean than do statistics. But I also know, from reading the letters, that there is another reason this family is always reporting on individuals – because that is virtually all they have to report on. Even if they wanted to tell of crowds and numbers, they couldn’t. The crowds are a lot closer to single digits than anything that would look impressive in a missionary newsletter. They write about individuals because they can probably count on their fingers the number of converts they have coming to their home for Bible study and prayer.
Would you be discouraged? I know I would. And though I never detect it for a moment in their reports home … I am sure that each of our missionary families sometimes wonders what in the world they are doing ‘in this far off, difficult place.’ So we need to pray for them. We need to ask the Lord to remind them of Galatians 6.9, and make it real to them: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even in their lifetimes. But God will reap a harvest of souls from their missionary labors if they do not give up.
I think about Henry Martyn. Today, his name is very famous in missionary circles. But when he died, he was a ‘failure.’ He had ministered in India and Persia for more than half a decade before dying at age 31 with tuberculosis. His harvest up to that point? One single, solitary convert – a Muslim named Abdul Masih. Imagine the missionary newsletters Martyn would have produced on his laptop! He would have only needed one photo! And yet that one lonely convert became a wildly successful evangelist after Martyn’s death. And “in due season” Martyn’s harvest was reaped! O, pray that our missionaries would know the Henry Martyn’s and the Galatians 6.9’s … and not lose heart in the days of small potatoes!
And pray for yourself, too. I know for a fact that some of you have been laboring with that child, or that church, or that relative, or that classmate for the longest time … with no seeming result. You have been sharing Jesus and giving out tracts for years on end with no converts to show for it. Some who read this little column are preachers who feel, perhaps, at the end of your rope. But whoever you are … do not grow weary. Keep loving. Keep sharing. Keep praying. Keep going. Keep preaching. Don’t lose heart. Remember Henry Martyn and Abdul Masih. Remember Galatians 6.9. Remember that someday, for God’s glory, your labors will prove to have been worth it. In due season, we will reap!