Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Encouragement for Missionaries

One way to gain a heart for people of all nations is to listen to the stories of those who went to share the gospel in these nations. I have been personally encouraged by John Piper's biographical messages on John Paton, Adoniram Judson (whom my son is named after.) Now you can learn even more through Piper's new book over these men's lives, plus William Tyndale's life.

Justin Taylor asks John Piper:

Missionaries frequently feel discouraged—caught between two worlds, feeling forgotten by those at home and often disconnected with those to whom they are trying to minister. What encouragement do you hope that missionaries will receive from reading this book?

All your suffering is worth it. You are not alone. Your sorrows and discouragements are part of a painful strategy God has designed for the sake of the nations. We do not see all the effects of Christian suffering. It is designed by God to complete what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). You may feel that it is in vain. It is not. It is not. God promises it is not: “In the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Few things outside the Bible strengthen the hands of missionaries like the stories of those who endured what only those who have been there can understand.

One of the things we hear a lot about in American Christianity is that persecution is coming—and this is often used as a fear tactic to support certain forms of activism. But you argue that persecution, death, and suffering will be the very means God uses to spread his kingdom. Can you explain?

Pervasive in the New Testament is that Christians suffer. What Colossians 1:24 makes plain, along with other passages, is that this suffering is not God’s problem, but God’s plan. It is his strategy to present the sufferings of Christ to the world in the embodiment of his suffering people.

We are too sinful to be left without suffering. And the world is too sinful to see our love unless it comes with suffering. Therefore, for our sake and their sake God appoints tribulation for all who would conquer their own sin and offer salvation to the nations.

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