Coming to Serve

What is it worth to see unreached people experience the love of Jesus?

 

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

William Carey, the father of modern missions, closed his first sermon at a missionary society in London with this quote—and with it set the tone for the new wave of Protestant missions that would change the world in the generations that followed.

MAF’s legacy is born out of this bold mindset. MAF missionary pilot Nate Saint gave his life alongside his fellow missionaries so that the Waorani tribe of Ecuador could hear the Gospel proclaimed. Generations of MAF missionaries and others from our partner organizations have done great things ever since.


Prepared for greatness—ambushed by the mundane

This idea has seeped into the fabric of our being. We want to be great. We want to make big difference. We want our lives to matter for God.

But what about when it doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would? What about when “greatness” seems very far off.

I will never forget the first time I had to buy groceries while living overseas. I had prepared to do great things for God as a missionary, and here I was doing something that felt so mundane—so ordinary. “This can’t be right.”

Many MAF missionaries feel this pressure as well. They arrive on the field, faithfully serve for years, and can’t help but feeling like something is missing.

Where are the people coming in droves to accept Christ? Where are the amazing stories of life-saving flights?

MAF-Mozambique pilot Dave Holmes.

Where are the massive struggles to heroically overcome?

Instead the struggles they often face are more frustrating than the heroic: mosquitos, corrupt traffic cops, power outages, and balancing work, family, and “ministry” amid cultural frustrations.

Most days are spent quietly serving those around them through flights that might not seem to make that big of a difference.

All the while, the spectres of Nate Saint, William Carey, and other missionary heroes hang above them—setting a seemingly impossible bar for missionary work. And anything short of that is perceived as failure.

 

What does it mean to be great?

What is our definition of great? In an era of “bigger is better” we often think that if we are not the biggest or best then we must be missing the mark that God has for us. Maybe we have it wrong.

Jesus flips greatness on its head. “Whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant; whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as the ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28.)

Maybe in the mundane we are following Jesus’ example of servanthood—as we humbly serve in His name. Maybe in the humdrum routines of missionary service, we are doing something great.

I recently had the chance to visit MAF’s program in Mozambique. There is a people in the remote, northern part of that vast African country who have never heard the Gospel. MAF has been in the country for decades and soon will be able to open doors to begin a flying doctor ministry there, with the hope of bringing medical care to these people so they can experience Christ’s love.

Writer Chris Burgess, far right, and the MAF Mozambique team during their family conference in 2017.

This opportunity has not been easy—it has cost MAF staff years of quietly living in one of the poorest countries on earth and faithfully serving.

Yet, what is it worth to see this unreached people group, and others like them around the world, hear the name of Jesus? Are they worth years of flights that are less than glorious? Are they worth wading through foreign bureaucracies and tedious regulations? Are they worth living in a country far from home? Are they worth never having books written about our courageous adventures?

Are they worth your time, resources, prayers, and financial support of MAF to give them the chance to someday respond to the Gospel?

Are they worth all of us humbly following where God leads—even if it means doing the mundane?

I believe the answer is a resounding “YES.”

 

Story appeared in the January 2018 issue of FlightWatch.

 

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