Humbled and Encouraged

… those two words describe my feelings after the U.S. Missions Conference which I just attended. The meetings were held at the Chicago area church that I served prior to pastoring at CBC. Over twenty of the missionaries and international pastors that they support gathered for the week of meetings. The missionaries represented, the United States, the Navajo Nation, Guyana, the Philippines, several Southern African countries, Egypt … and Panama. The way these men and women serve and who the serve varies greatly, but they are all spreading the good news of Salvation in Jesus Christ. Their testimonies not only humbled me, but encouraged and incited me to persevere in the ministry of the Gospel. Here are some snapshots:
Richard John who pastors four churches in Guyana, South America, regularly removes his socks and shoes, rolls up his pant legs and slogs through mud to preach the gospel in a local village. One of his fellow pastors, James Garraway, routinely ministers in a crime infested slum from which you’re lucky to return. Elmer Surigoa, from the Philippines, visits one church under this care that requires a flight, a boat ride, a bus, a motor cycle and finally a horse to get there. Most of the missionaries from South and Southern Africa have invested twenty to thirty years of their life in God’s work. Tim Kuehl told me that he taught and preached for four years before he saw the first sign of life among his hearers. Now, after twenty-eight years of ministry he’s seeing such rapid growth that he almost can’t keep up. It’s easy to get focused on what you’re foregoing for the sake of your ministry. It’s good to be reminded of the struggles that face other missionaries. Their level of sacrifice and commitment to proclaiming the good news of Jesus is refreshing and humbling. I feel privileged to be numbered among them.
I appreciate the CBC Elder’s encouraging me to attend the conference. We also appreciate everyone who pitched in to cover our absence. Sue and I return a little over-fed and under-rested, but humbled, encouraged and inspired for future ministry.