My wife and I began to watch the first season of the series, Travel the Road, a reality TV series and travelogue documenting the journey of two missionaries. The first seasons sees them in 25 countries over the course of twelve episodes.
In the first episode, they’d planned extensive missions in Pakistan, only to find in prayer that the Holy Spirit wanted them to go to Tibet. So they began an arduous journey into Tibet that saw them encountering little success and little opportunities for evangelism.
However, one night on the journey, they found a Korean lady who’d been travelling with them had fallen ill. They went and visited her in the hospital and she was in bad shape. They prayed for her and comforted her and went on their way.
They left in the morning and went about their way and on their way out from what had apparently been a fruitless trip, they went back to the town and found out from some tourists that the Korean lady they’d prayed for had completely recovered.
It was amazing. God had sent two missionaries days out of their way through horrible travel conditions, on painful unpaved roads to a completely different country to minister to one woman. That is the love of God.
It was something I experienced a couple times in 1996. I was travelling with my parents and and was directed several days journey to Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Medicine Bow was the site of the filming of the show, The Virginian. There’s not much else there, but when he visited a pastor in the area, he was sent to pray for a man with cancer.
Then on the same trip, we journey to Spottsylvania County, Virginia and we spent two frustrating weeks there, and the only reason we came there was that we obtained a motto that encouraged someone we met in North Dakota a few weeks later.
I’d like to say that everybody was happy and content during that journey, but it’s not the case. We were ansy, we didn’t know what we were doing or why we were doing it. It was a frustrating several weeks that was spent feeling like we didn’t know what God was doing.
Of course, God’s extravagance goes back to even the scripture. In Acts 8, Phillip was carried away by the Holy Spirit from Samara where he’d been having great success in ministry to the middle of the desert where God had him share the gospel with one man.
God was generous to us all beyond adequate description with the Gift of Salvation. He loves us so much that he will go to extreme measures to reach us and those extreme measures often come from the efforts of his people.
I think we are often hindered and discouraged in our efforts and ministries whatever they may be because we’re not achieving our goals which means we’re failing. If writers aren’t selling as many books as they’d like or pastors aren’t having phenomenal church growth numbers, or parachurch ministries aren’t taking off, it doesn’t necessarily mean that God’s will been missed. In fact, sometimes can be using our lives and our efforts extravagantly to reach people who are important to him even if we’re not doing it with the numbers we think constitute success.
This isn’t to say that Christians should be complacent. That God never calls Christians to change from one ministry to the next. However, we should be careful that we’ve not been cut off with our society’s fetish for big numbers. We should make God’s priorities ours and that’s blessing people in big ways and small and if we can do that, we’ll find greater contentment in our place in God’s plan.