Thursday, March 30

Never fear making mistakes

After Monday's semi-depressing post, I was encouraged to find the following quote by former IMB missionary Curtis Sergeant on the YWAM Church Planting site...

Never fear mistakes. The U.S. Marine Warfighting Manual states that risk is inherent equally to action and inaction. This is manifestly untrue in matters of church planting. Inaction has infinitely more risks than action. Almost any way of planting a church is better than not planting a church at all. Wayne Gretzke says, "You miss one hundred percent of the shots you never take." Nothing significant is ever achieved without taking risks, and there is no risk greater than the status quo in our situation. If the situation does not change, unreached people groups will remain unreached, and millions will die and enter a Christ-less eternity. No possible alternative is a greater evil than this. So the greatest risk of all in our situation is the status quo. We must not fear making mistakes, because the mistakes can be no worse than the current situation.
-- Curtis Sergeant

So, therefore, fellow laborers in the harvest, let's get out there and go ahead and try some of those ideas we fear will not work. If only 1 of 10 things we attempt bear fruit, we will be making an impact on lostness and lives will be touched for eternity. That is what is at stake.


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Guy,

This was a very good word for me at this time. God is challenging me to several new, big things in my ministry, and I've been afraid to try them.

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."

Who would have thought that I would be inspired by Wayne Grezke?!?!

Thanks for the good word.

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Keep blogging, and keep exploring. Missions is not an exact science. The only sure thing seems to be that only God is a sure and known and trustworthy being. meanwhile, the below story may be of interest for your groups to discuss and debate.

Omodo, A Case Studv

Walter A. Trobisch

On one of my trips I worshiped in an African church where nobody knew me. After the service I talked to two boys who had also attended.

"How many brothers and sisters do you have?" I asked the first one. "Three."

"Are they all from the same stomach?"

"Yes, my father is a Christian."
"How about you?" I addressed the other boy.

He hesitated. In his mind he was adding up. I knew immediately that he came from a polygamous family.

"We are nine," he finally said.
"Is your father a Christian?"

"No." was the typical answer, "He is a polygamist."

"Are you baptized?"

"Yes, and my brothers and sister too," he added proudly.

"And their mothers?"

"They are all three baptized, but only the first wife takes communion."

"Take me to your father."

The boy led me to a compound with many individual houses. It breathed an atmosphere of cleanliness, order, and wealth. Each wife had her own kitchen. The father, a middle-aged, good-looking man, tall, fat, and impressive, received me without embarrassment and with apparent joy. I found Omodo, as we shall call him, a well-educated person, wide-awake and intelligent, with a sharp wit and a rare sense of humor. From the outset he made no apologies for being a polygamist; he was proud of it. Let me try to put down here the essential content of our conversation that day which lasted for several hours.

" Welcome to the hut of a poor sinner!" The words were accompanied by good-hearted laughter.

"It looks like a rich sinner," I retorted.
The saints come very seldom to this place," he said, "they don't want to be contaminated with sin."

"But they are not afraid to receive your wives and children. I just met them in church."

"I know. I give everyone a coin for the collection plate. I guess I finance half of the church's budget. They are glad to take my money, but they don't want me."
I sat in thoughtful silence. After a while he continued, "I feel sorry for the pastor. By refusing to accept all the polygamous men in town as church members he has made his flock poor and they shall always be dependent upon subsidies from America. He has created a church of women whom he tells every Sunday that polygamy is wrong."
"Wasn't your first wife heartbroken when you took a second one?"

Omodo looked at me almost with pity. "It was her happiest day," he said finally.
"Tell me how it happened."

"Well, one day after she had come home from the garden and had fetched wood and water, she was preparing the evening meal, while I sat in front of my house and watched her. Suddenly she turned to me and mocked me. She called me a `poor man,' because I had only one wife. She pointed to our neighbor's wife who could care for her children while the other wife prepared the food."

"Poor man," Omodo repeated. "I can take much, but not that. I had to admit that she was right. She needed help. She had already picked out a second wife for me and they get along fine."

I glanced around the courtyard and saw a beautiful young woman, about nineteen or twenty, come out of one of the huts.

"It was a sacrifice for me," Omodo commented. "Her father demanded a very high bride price."

"Do you mean that the wife who caused you to become a polygamist is the only one of your family who receives communion?"

"Yes, she told the missionary how hard it was for her to share her love for me with another woman. According to the church my wives are considered sinless

because each of them has only one husband. I, the father, am the only sinner in our family. Since the Lord's Supper is not given to sinners, I am excluded from it. Do you understand that, pastor?"

I was entirely confused.

"And you see," Omodo continued, "they are all praying for me that I might be saved from sin, but they don't agree from which sin I must be saved."
"What do you mean?"

"Well, the pastor prays that I may not continue to commit the sin of polygamy. My wives pray that I may not commit the sin of divorce. I wonder whose prayers are heard first."

"So your wives are afraid that you become a Christian?"

"They are afraid that I become a church member. Let's put it that way. For me there is a difference. You see they can only have intimate relations with me as long as I do not belong to the church. In the moment I would become a church member their marriage relations with me would become sinful."

"Wouldn't you like to become a church member?"

"Pastor, don't lead me into temptation! How can I become a church member, if it means to disobey Christ? Christ forbade divorce, but not polygamy. The church forbids polygamy but demands divorce. How can I become a church member, if I want to be a Christian? For

me there is only one way, to be a Christian without the church."

"Have you ever talked to your pastor about that?"

"He does not dare to talk to me, because he knows as well as I do that some of his elders have a second wife secretly. The only difference between them and me is that I am honest and they are hypocrites."

"Did a missionary ever talk to you?" "Yes, once. I told him that with the high divorce rate in Europe, they have only a successive form of polygamy while we have a simultaneous polygamy. That did it. He never came back."

I was speechless. Omodo accompanied me back to the village. He evidently enjoyed to be seen with a pastor.

"But tell me, why did you take a third wife?" I asked him.

"I did not take her. I inherited her from my later brother, including her children. Actually my older brother would have been next in line. But he is an elder. He is not allowed to sin by giving security to a widow."

I looked in his eyes. "Do you want to become a Christian?"

"I am a Christian," Omodo said without smiling.

As I walked slowly down the path, the verse came to my mind: "You blind guides, straining out a gnat and

swallowing a camel."

Omodo Response

1. List five issues that are at work in this case study.

2. What would you tell the local pastor?

3. What cultural issues raising their heads among your focus peoples?

GuyMuse said...

Saludos Hno. Jeff,

Thanks for stopping by! I too am challenged by Curtis word. Of all the IMB M I have known over the years there is no sharper fellow when it comes to missions. He is now on staff with Saddleback and is in charge of their missions program for unreached micro-groups in the world. Blessings on you guys. Have a great weekend.


Very interesting case study. Here in S. America a similar issue we deal with are men who have other women (outside of marriage) and engender children through these extra-marital relationships. In essence they have multiple families but aren't married. When they come to Christ as new believers they are faced with responsibly dealing with these issues and it is a tough one. Most churches will not baptize a new believer coming out of these circumstances until they order their lives properly. We have taken a differing view and will baptize any repentant sinner as long as they have the intent of ordering their lives and doing what is correct. This often takes many months and even years in some situations. They are not easy matters, each situation is different, and we need the wisdom of the Lord to help us discern the best counsel for each situation.

Kiki Cherry said...

I wanted to comment on the Omodo case study, since that is the culture that I grew up in and an issue we faced on a regular basis.

First--I appreciate your comment, Guy, that "they are not easy matters, each situation is different, and we need the wisdom of the Lord to help us discern the best counsel for each situation."

It is really hard to address such issues unless you understand all the intricacies of the culture.

But in every culture, people can justify sin by saying "this is one of our customs."

This case study clearly indicates that there were other believers who chose to follow the Biblical precept of one wife.

We had a couple of pastors in the country where I grew up who chose to use this argument to justify their outright sin. They knew better, and so the church disciplined them appropriately. They continued to be unrepentant, and eventually fellowship in the church was restricted. One of them eventually died of AIDS as a result of his sin.

(Thankfully, he was repentant and was restored before he died. God was able to use him in his last days to impact others who had fallen into sexual sin.) But in a country where 1 out of 3 adults are now dying from AIDS, sexual purity in the church is a VERY crucial issue.

I personally don't see this any differently than I do a Christian man in the United States who chooses to have an affair. God is a holy God. Discipline is a necessary aspect of church life. However, it should be done with much love, grace and with restoration as an end goal.

But without knowing what specific actions had been extended in this man's case, we can't really know if those things were being done.

GuyMuse said...


The idea of "affairs" being our own version of the Omodo case study is an interesting thought. Hopefully DonK who sent it in can get back on and share some more of his thoughts with us.

I personally go "nuts" with these kinds of situations. For many years I oversaw a Baptist counseling ministry here in Guayaquil. The most common cases were like those I describe above where men with multiple affairs and families would come wanting to make things "right." They would ask us to help them decide what they should do about all these women and their children. It is a horrible quandry with no easy solutions.

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