Earlier this morning I noticed a Facebook post that mentioned some missionary friends of mine. They were speaking at a gathering and the person posted a picture of Cheri (the one you see above) and included the caption, “Amazing devotional brought by Cheri Floyd this morning. Those missionary people can really bring it.” Now, I only get to see Cheri and her husband Don once every few years. But when I do, I cherish the time. When in America they travel and talk to churches about their life ministry in Papua New Guinea. They wear several hats there as they teach women about life and health, provide oversight to building projects in their region, and assist the ministry of a Bible college. Oh… and Cheri also homeschools their children.
They tell these stories as they go from American churches, to camps, to retreats. Now, they aren’t the most charismatic speakers. Well, Don has his moments. But it isn’t their speaking style that draws you in. Their pictures help them tell the story. But honestly, the beautiful photos tend to look like other missionary pictures after a while. What actually hooks me is their dedication to God’s call and the people to which they have been called to give of their lives.
We’ve been blessed and honored to be able to host them in our home on several occasions. It is a very encouraging and challenging time for me. I can learn more about life and ministry in 2 days of fellowship with them than I learned in 2 months of ministry schooling at Bible College. It isn’t just the stories of lives they’ve touched. It is their philosophy of ministry that comes through both pursuit of God and experience in the field of people. They both contain and convey great truths about life and ministry, I believe in part because God gives such a great grace to those who give up what we would consider ‘normal life’ to go and spend themselves on a foreign mission field where the people eat ‘strange food, wear funny clothing, and use weird words when they talk’.
And I have found this to be true of most missionaries… at least those who have the life and heart, and not just the title. They usually aren’t the most flamboyant speakers or ‘hippest’ people in the room. But they have something nobody else has. And what they have, they bring. That brings me back to the Facebook quote from earlier. When I saw the person say that Cheri (and other missionaries) “can really bring it,” I immediately commented… “That's because they've really got it. You can only bring what you have.” And that is the key. Everybody brings something. And you can only bring what you’ve got. They’ve got genuine understanding and love for God and His mission to save the world. They have that inside. So that’s naturally what they bring. Many people want to bring what a missionary brings… but we don’t have inside what a missionary has inside. We can’t bring what we don’t have.
The apostle and missionary Paul when speaking to a young pastor wrote this…
“Don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.
He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:8-12)
This is the last letter we have from Paul in Scripture, written right at the end of his life. He was passing on wisdom to Timothy. He could only pass along what he had. That’s what makes it so valuable even to this day. Here’s the thing… missionaries would tell you that they have nothing to bring that you and I can’t have. And they are right. But we don’t have it just because we are saved. We too must dedicate ourselves to being sold out completely to Jesus no matter where that leads.
Today you will bring something. You will bring something to your family, your friends, your job, your ballgame, your ministry opportunity. But will it be something good or something negative? Upon leaving will people try to pick up what you brought, or will they try to clean up what you left? You can only really bring what you really have. What do you have? That’s what you will bring. What do you want to bring? That’s what you need to get.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.