|David Gates & Bob Norton with AMA mission plane.|
People don't appreciate how brave missionaries are. To do what they do, day after day in the wild places of the world would stretch the nerves of most of us living here in the civilized bits of the United States. What I particularly like about missionaries is that those who work on the front lines of Adventism have that rare ability to decide what needs to be done and then to go out and do it.
A preacher friend of mine once told me, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."
I have found this to be true. A decisive personality, however, gets one into a lot of trouble and not just with local witch doctors and drug runners. One of the sure signs that you are doing something God wants you to do is when some church member calls you up before the church board or a conference committee.
If you purpose in your heart to do right and to go where God leads, someone will inevitably question your motives. I can't tell you how many times someone has poked a finger in my chest and demanded to know why I was doing something on my own time, with my own money for some cause that I was not going to make any money on that they could see. "What's in it for you?" they always demanded.
Sinful mankind cannot imagine why anyone would do anything decent and good without having an ulterior motive. After all, they themselves wouldn't, so why would you? Mark Twain, a keen observer of the human condition once quipped, "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
If you have a son or you are a mentor to young men, teach them to be decisive. Prepare them to think clearly in an emergency. Train them for the mission fields, even if they never go outside their home county. Skills like first-aid, CPR, camp cooking, knot-tying and simple carpentry are handy to possess in an emergency when everyone else is losing their heads. Learning man-skills helps a boy learn to make decisions based on evidence and logic. And we certainly need those skills in today's world.
My wife and I were reading in our little devotional book today and came upon this text: "If they serve Him obediently, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in happiness." Job 36:11
I smelled a rat and looked it up. Sure enough, the text was quoted from Elihu's speech to Job telling him why he must have committed some sin or other and that's why God was punishing him. In the story, Elihu was wrong. If Job teaches us anything, it's that being a good guy can get you into as much trouble as being a bad guy. The devil doesn't like good guys and makes it his special work to attack them at every opportunity.
Jesus warned us that things would get rough. "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matt. 5: 11-12
We need to prepare our sons for that sort of challenge. We need to provide them with life experiences that train them in body, mind and spirit to be ready so that when God lights their way, they have the strength of character and the decisiveness to act quickly and with power. We are soldiers in God's Army. When we are called to stand in the breach, we should recognize the threat or the opportunity and step forward as Samuel, Deborah, Joshua and Isaiah did and say, "Here am I, send me."
If there were more Adventist men of that character, board meetings would be a whole lot shorter and far less miserable for our pastors. Adventist men, rightly trained should press forward whenever there is a call for someone to help so that there are more hands than are needed. When there is a need or an opportunity, there should be more than enough to help. The pastor and the nominating committee should have to pick and choose, not dig and scrape.
Our women-folk should not have to drag us out of our easy chairs to get us to do the work of the church. I was reminded of that yesterday when I was asked to take, not one, but three jobs at church by the nominating committee. My truck is in Texas and I have to walk or bum rides until I can save up enough to go get it. I almost turned down the call because of I lack transportation. God kept poking at me while I was on the phone, nagging me to take the jobs. So, I did.
I read David Gates' story today and realized something. In my weariness (the devil has been waging a fierce round of infernal guerrilla warfare against me lately), I'd almost forgotten who I'm working for.
This is all God's work. My job is just to show up when called and use the tools He has given me to do the job He wants to get done. God will handle the logistics. If I need transport, He will provide it.
In the meantime, I think I'll go do some stuff to really aggravate the devil.