This past week I was able to go out of the country and see what God is doing through a network of national pastors. In a country that doesn't experience the freedom of resources and religion like we do, I encountered a thriving community of Gospel churches.
I was encouraged and convicted! It was awesome to meet various pastors who had started works not that long ago that were starting works from their location already! Some were in the city and others were in remote areas that were not as easily accessed (one brother was bike riding 5 kilos to arrive at one).
But perhaps the most challenging moment during my brief trip was during our meeting on Wednesday evening. Gathered at one of the churches in a smaller town was a group of what I thought were all pastors. As each introduced themselves and spoke about what they were doing, one of them stood out to me the most. Desirous to help establish 50 churches in 10 years, he and his family started what we might call a Bible study in a particular location. In my mind, this guy is a pastor, but working a job his life is difficult but he is sacrificing, etc. Then he said something when someone asked about how long he had been pastoring the work. "I'm no pastor" Wait, what? He explained that he was a member of their church but doesn't think he has the gifts or calling to the office of the pastorate; he wanted to get the Gospel to his people...do me a favor, re-read this last sentence slowly and thoughtfully.
In that moment, I had to have an "altar call" in my own heart. I was convicted that this man is forgoing a "normal" life (i.e.- his family's plan, their schedule, their wants, their priorities) to get this mission established. He is presenting the Gospel and gathering a group together to form a core nucleus for a church (that he envisions starting another in a few years)! Whew, that is radical and unusual...but is it? Should it be? Did we not read of such an event in Acts 8? 8:3-4 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. It wasn't all pastors going out and declaring the Gospel, it was the Christians from the church in Jerusalem. Though persecuted, they had such a love for their Savior, His Gospel, and their people that they went out proclaiming it!
Brothers and sisters, let me ask us to consider something- do we love "our people"? This brother is doing what he is out of love for Christ and a passion for his fellow countrymen to hear of Him. I'm not asking if you're trained as a pastor. I'm not asking for you to preach each week. I'm asking if you and I are desperate to see the Gospel get to those God has placed around us. Before we say, "I'm no pastor", I'd remind us that neither have other believers been, yet God has used them greatly for the Gospel mission! Pastor Paul