Yesterday I was visiting with some of our visitors and I made the comment, “I love outreach because it’s a no-brainer, it’s all Holy Ghost.” They had asked me if I ever get any time off and I laughed and told them that for the most part, no. Whenever I travel I am ministering somewhere or telling people about what I do as they ask me. I then commented that I really love outreach because it is like a vacation to me. I experience great joy, great peace and feel refreshed when we are done. I commented that I sure wish the admin part of my ministry could be this way.
I find it so amazing that when we go and sit with the poor in spirit it is there that we encounter the rest of God, the wonder of God. We never once read that Jesus then took a small vacation to Hawaii. He would go and sit with His Father yes, but most of His time was spent with the poor in spirit. The only time He would get a bit agitated was when He had to deal with the church of that time. The admin part of my ministry is like this, constantly unraveling messes that we make. And then I need to take a vacation to Hawaii to get rest.
When we go on our weekend outreaches, we slow way down, we take time for people, we have true concern, we pray as long as they need us to, we listen to their stories, as long as it takes to get to the heart of the matter. We have this pressing “mission” to take Jesus to the people. What if our lives were one huge outreach? How would that look? How would we care differently about everyone we encountered, even the church? Here in South Sudan, when we go on outreach, most of our reach is to the already existing church. They are bush churches that are so hungry for more of God and for His Word. I am so passionate when I teach and minister in these places because I know they are hungry.
In the middle of all this musing and meditation, the Lord shocked me with His answer. The world is My outreach He said to me. Every day I am on a mission. I am at rest and full of joy and passion and peace as I reach out to the people, especially in their sufferings, BECAUSE they/you are My outreach, He said to me. Affliction either draws a crowd or repels a crowd. If it draws a crowd, we share in their sufferings and we find a unity there that bears the fruit of loving each other.
My preaching to our church this morning was about the fruit of true outreach. In the midst of every struggle a story is born, even if all looks lost in the beginning. Job lost it all. Yet, today the church is encouraged to love God no matter what because He is good and He loves us and will redeem everything that was taken by the devil. Jesus told John the Baptist, blessed are those who are not offended in Me. John basically cried out, “Have you forsaken me?”. Later in Matthew chapter 11, Jesus says that John was the greatest man born among women to ever live. Later Jesus Himself cried out in a loud voice to God, “Father why have You forsaken me!” Isaiah 46:10 was my preach today, that God knows the end from the beginning and He will do as He pleases to make sure His outreach is successful, His mission accomplished, His family brought home.
The world is His outreach. Are we willing to be a part of it, no matter what? Are we willing to be the sacrifice? Are we hungry? God did not go down to the cross and help Jesus sacrifice Himself. Jesus had a mission and He had to sacrifice Himself by Himself, so that the outreach of God would reach to the ends of the earth. Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves, however that may look, in order to complete our outreach that God has given us, an extension of Himself?
This coming weekend we are heading back to Morobo, the hardest place we have ever reached out to. In a crowd of 500, only three drunk guys came forward to give their hearts to Jesus. As soon as we packed up our equipment, the disco music blared and the alcohol was brought out right in that very spot, that very spot. God’s outreach is still happening there and we are going to go and join Him. We are full of fire and passion and we are eager to sit still with the poor in spirit and listen to their stories. I love God’s outreach!
Last week we ministered to a lady in Goja who smelled of alcohol and she was holding a little baby who was gagging on his own phlegm from lungs overwhelmed with it. All day and into the night he gagged and coughed and sweated. She came to receive prayer that night at our Jesus film outreach and I just knew this baby had to get to the hospital. We sent our driver and baby and mama to the hospital. The next day we went to check on them and the baby had malaria and a bad chest infection. We believe this baby would have possibly died if left the way he was. If that baby was the only reason we went to Goja, I praise God for that. Another story ended much differently.
Our friend at the hospital where we take our children told of a family that arrived there with a boy that was so malnourished that she was amazed that he would still be alive. The mother was also pregnant. The doctors labored over the boy as they tried to keep oxygen in his lungs. In the midst of all this the mother went into labor and was writhing on the floor in pain. The baby was sideways in the womb. The mother went into surgery for an emergency C section. Meantime, her other son fighting for his life died. When the doctor asked the father why they waited so long to bring the boy he replied that they were hiding in the bush 50 miles up the road, running from the town of Layna because the entire town was fighting and shooting people. They had to run through the bush all the way to Yei.
In Aweil 50% of the town has fled to the north, into Sudan, the country that we gained our freedom from, begging for food and shelter. The markets are bare and people have no money and children are dying along the road trying to make it north. In three weeks we are going to Aweil to see what God wants to do through us. I don’t have a plan but I do have a purpose, God’s outreach is to all people. The days are short and the time draws near to the Lord’s coming. How will we help in the end time harvest? Everyone needs to be reached, everywhere. The fields are ripe in the earth. Where is our outreach?
Today, outreach was my front porch. All I wanted to do after church was lie in my hammock, listen to worship music and do crossword puzzles (my secret passion). Soon, little three-year old Anna came walking up the path and reached to be picked up so she could swing with me in the hammock. Within ten minutes I had four more little girls just wanting to hang out. Within half an hour there were 22 children under the age of ten “hanging out” on my porch. I didn’t chase them away, I just enjoyed the fact that they wanted to be on my porch. This entire weekend something has happened in our children, especially our boys. They helped in the kitchen, carried water, served food, poured water for all the dirty hands before dinner, one boy even washed clothes for his big sister! We were all in shock. Even Mercy brought two cold cups of water to me and another missionary today without us even asking her. She just did it. God is doing something in our children. This was outreach for them. God bless you this week as you reach out. He truly is worthy.