“It can never happen here.”
“No one respects God here.”
“How could God move in this [horrible] place?”
You can probably think of a number of questions or statements that give an excuse or justification for why you can’t be a missionary where you are. Let’s not devalue those statements. Let’s identify them for what they are…barriers to the Gospel.
Missionaries have gone to foreign countries for generations. The Church of the Nazarene [the “umbrella” denomination for this devotional] has missionaries in “Creative Access” areas. The denomination does not publicly identify them. When they go home, they are not recorded or associated with their missional area. For many of them, martyrdom (killed because of faithfully living the faith) is a real possibility.
In comparison, our hard to reach areas are not so hard.
Paul wrote the letter to the church(es) in Philippi from jail. Through a confluence of circumstances, he was able to share about Jesus, both directly and indirectly. One could think that jail could be a pretty hard place.
Yet, the Gospel is growing (yes, growing) in the prisons even today. Through methods such as Discovery Bible Study, cell groups (pun intended) are growing in the prisons. Some of the hardest prisons where the further separate inmates into pods are establishing groups.
Did Paul start immediately preaching the Gospel to the guards? Probably not. He developed relationships with them over time. Then as the Holy Spirit guided, he shared.
Where you are may be a place where you are called to only plant seeds. Perhaps you are in a place where you are called to water the seeds that others planted. It might even be possible for you to be in a place where you plant and water. Depending on the people, each person may be in a different place.
Relational Evangelism is the new buzz-phrase. It shouldn’t be. This is the most effective way, at this point in history, to reach people for Jesus and deepen their (and our) relationship with Jesus. Even 20 years ago, the most successful churches with the deepest discipleship were built on relationships.
1) What relationship is the hardest for you at the moment? How could/might the Holy Spirit use that to bring Jesus into the picture?
2) What kind of seeds are you planting right now? In whom are you planting them? What are some ways to plant seeds?
3) What seeds/plants are you watering right now? How are you watering them? What are some ways to water the seeds of faith?
4) How’s the weeding going? Are you having to pull some weeds in your or others’ lives? How might weeding work (or not) in the newly planted and/or watered relationships?
Father, from the beginning you have used the picture of planting and watering to convey deep truths to your Creation. Please guide us into how planting, watering, and weeding needs to be lived out in our lives. Amen.