March 1, 2019

Dear YBA family, 

Most missionaries today are assigned or have sensed a calling to work with a certain people group.  A people group is a group that shares language, culture and world view.  For example, when we were commissioned to go to Bolivia, I thought we were going to work with “Bolivians.” But in my ignorance, I didn’t know that there were nearly 50 distinct people groups located within the borders of the country.  For a number of years, we worked with university students in Bolivia.  We also worked with the Guarani indigenous group and then I became the strategy coordinator for Spanish speaking Bolivians but as time continued, we began to work more and more with the church.  We felt that God gave us a ministry to “call out the called.”  We felt a leading of God to challenge and train the church to remember and answer the call of our Lord. 

 When people would ask us what people group we were working with, Melissa and I would respond; “we’re working with the church.”  I believe without any doubt that God has called His church to be on mission for Him.  However, somewhere along the way it became an appointment of so-called professionals to do the task on behalf of the body.  Now, I certainly believe that God calls individuals to go and serve long-term in missions, but I also feel certain that by choosing a few and sending them out He never rescinds the call of the body of Christ, for every believer, to live on mission.  For nearly 20 some years now, I believe that God has been asking me to call out the called. 

 Recently I had the privilege to hear Brother Randy Carter preach a message called “Compelled to Carry the Cross.” It was a powerful message based on the passages in Matthew 27:32:

 “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name.

They compelled this man to carry his cross.”

 This is the part of the story right before Jesus is crucified.  You will remember that Jesus has been beaten, mocked, stripped and made to carry His cross to the point that He has no strength left.  We have all seen the movies where Christ falls down and is worn out from the beatings He has received and therefore unable to carry the cross.  The soldier compelled Simon to carry the cross.  We understand the word “compelled” to mean: to be forced, or to be moved by outside forces to do something.  I want to focus on this word compelled. 

 The definition of the word compel is:

a. to force or oblige (someone) to do something; 

b. bring about (something) by the use of force or pressure;

c. to feel a sense of duty to do something. 

 I have no desire to try to force, oblige or put pressure on anyone to do something, not even the work Christ has called us to do, but I am praying that as we are sensitive to the leadership of God’s Spirit we will feel a sense of oughtness and a pressure from within our spirit to live out the mission as God has called us to do. 

 We had the opportunity for a number of years to represent Latin America to our Southern Baptist constituents.  I was impressed by two reactions from both Christ followers and church bodies.  First many people seemed surprised that God wanted them to be involved in mission and secondly, they didn’t have a clue on how to get started.  Let me reassure you if you are a Christ follower, then you have been called to “make Disciples” and secondly, if you don’t know how, ask your pastor and or contact us here at the YBA offices.  We would be glad to come and do some training with you and your church. 

 Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16: “For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ.” He said these words a short time before he was executed by the Nazi’s for his opposition to the Nazi regime.  Bonhoeffers most famous quote is “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” 

Most of us will never be faced with martyrdom, but the question that both Paul and Bonhoeffer are asking is: “are we willing to fully live for Christ?” 

For HIS glory,