We believe this. We teach it. We preach it. We read books about it. We have conferences about it. But when was the last time we actually got around to DOING what Jesus commanded us to do? Why?
My theory is that for most of us it is just theory--church talk. We don't ever really think we are to be the ones to get out there and engage the world in an intentional way and make disciples.
The hardest step is the first: going. To go requires committment, money, time, energy, intention, sacrifice, and often leaving our comfort zone. There is always a price involved in doing what Christ commanded.
I have found that if we will just take that first initial step and actually go, each successive step is a little easier. Going is the toughest hurdle. There are so many things standing in the way. The enemy will always push other matters to the front of the line to keep us from going: family responsibilities, work, finances, committments, health, fears, laziness, insecurities, and anything else that might keep us from going.
But when we do manage to take that first step and go, the Lord is faithful to do as he promised and be with us each successive step of the way. Many take the Matthew 28:20 promise out of context and believe that that somehow Christ is saying He will be with us whether or not we obey what He has told us to do. But this promise is conditioned on what precedes. If we will 1) go, 2) make disciples,
3) baptize, and 4) teach...HE WILL BE WITH US. And we will see His Glory as we follow his lead in going before us.
This past week a team of 7 Alabamans and 7 Ecuadorians took that initial step of going to Pindal, a remote county seat town in the southern Ecuadorian province of Loja. Prior research revealed that there were no known followers of Jesus Christ in the entire county.
Getting there was a 9-hour trek on some of the worst roads I have ever travelled in Ecuador. The roads were so bad that our car will have to be taken in to the shop tomorrow for repairs. While in Pindal, we held daily medical clinics and shared the Gospel with those who came. In the afternoons we invited everyone to join us in the park for a social gathering/Gospel-share time. After four days of these fun, share time gatherings several people expressed interest in giving their hearts to the Lord. One of the new believers who had been the restaurant owner where we ate breakfast and supper opened her home for us to continue meeting.
This past Thursday night, we held our first initial house church gathering in the home of this new believer with about 30 people present. Two of the Ecuadorian brethren who accompanied us on the trip have agreed to make a weekly trip to Pindal to disciple and follow-up the new believers.
Needless to say, this kind of committment and sacrifice is what it takes to fulfill the Great Commission. Both might have given a host of reasons why they couldn't continue to make the difficult trip (see above reasons!) But because they said YES, I believe Jesus will be faithful to his end of the bargain and do what He said he would do in Matthew 16 to "build his church" in Pindal.
Will you begin praying about where the Lord might have you go? Interested in maybe coming to Ecuador? Adopt one of our unreached peoples http://www.connectecuador.org/unadopted-areas.html