For years, I have longed to engage individuals throughout the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ (seriously, it has been a constant desire since 1986). This “call to the Nations” is what led me to take my first International Mission Trip in 1990, led me to change my Biblical Studies emphasis for my undergrad to Missiology, and led me to pursue different mission organizations in the early 90’s as a full-time missionary. But for whatever reason, God never allowed me to do this back then, as door after door was shut.
While serving as a Lead Pastor for the next 18 years, I tried to be involved in “reaching the Nations” by participating in short-term mission trips annually, encouraging church members to participate with me, supporting missionaries that were part of different Great Commission organizations, and praying for an awakening around the world that would somehow finish the task. Despite all of these things, I still had a great longing to be a more active participant in reaching the Nations, but again, God never allowed that to take place.
Then, out of nowhere, God made it very clear to me in 2010 that I was to step down as a Lead Pastor, head to West Virginia and assume a role as an Executive Pastor, and begin serving in a very different role in ministry in “The Second Chair.” That move proved to be the most difficult move of my life (at least up until this point). I struggled with God for several years concerning this because I simply did not see how this would “help make disciples of peoples from every tribe, nation and tongue.” In fact, for the first time in my faith-walk, I questioned if God really knew what He was doing by sending me to what seemed like, “the end of actually changing the world!”
Then four years ago, something happened that brought me to the “end of myself.” While still serving as an Executive Pastor, I was finally working with an amazing international mission organization, sensing this was the direction God had for me and my family for the rest of our lives. But then out of nowhere, a “decision was made” that the role I was playing for this organization needed a change. And just like that, my dream of GOING TO THE NATIONS and being an active leader of reaching people without Christ ’twas gone! It may have been the darkest days of my life when I feared that dream and vision from God had died!
But then IT HAPPENED!
Two different men stepped out in obedience and forever changed my world! The first, my long-time friend and fellow pastor, Jim Goforth, spoke into me words of life that only someone like him could speak to me. Those words on that day were so powerful because they helped me to see, “I can’t do this, BUT GOD CAN!” (Jim, you will never know this side of heaven how much you mean to me.)
The second man, a dear friend and co-laborer in the harvest fields of Bolivia, Rick Ware, did what I never even thought possible. Out of his own intense prayer time, Rick felt led by God to start a ministry that would impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And at that desperate time in my life, Rick asked me to help cofound this new ministry with him.
Yesterday, we celebrated the fourth anniversary of New Life Global Ministries. Looking back over these four years, I see how God has been at work in ways that I only dreamed of and I am simply in awe of Him (really, an awe and amazement that I think had to be what the original followers of Christ experienced as recorded in the Acts of the Early Church).
Maybe I am a slow learner. Maybe I have been reluctant in things He has asked of me over the years. And maybe I simply was not ready to be used to impact the world. I don’t know any of those things!
But what I do know is this – God has kept that longing to be an active part of fulfilling His Great Commission ever before me. And today, we are seeing GOD WORK through us here at home, around our country, and to the ends of the world. The VISION IS BECOMING A REALITY!
And if it were not for so many people who have SHARED moments of obedience to Him with me (like a Jim Goforth and a Rick Ware), I do not believe I would have this high and holy privilege to be serving the King of all Kings in the way that I am today (in the NATIONS).
If you are one who has struggled with seeing something come to pass that you know God desires of you, keep taking steps of faith with Him. But also look around you and see the many others that are also taking steps of obedience with Him. More than likely, they are the ones He wants to link you with, to finally fulfill that specific purpose He put into you.