It is difficult, sometimes, to put yourself in the place of those you read of in the Bible. But, I guess one of the easier circumstances to do so is when Jesus gathered the 72 to him and gave them instructions to go out into the surrounding towns and villages (see Luke 10:1-24). Because I fear when I go out to reach out for Jesus, I can imagine their fear. Because I feel unable, I can imagine how unable they felt. Because I know some will respond with hostility, I cam imagine their concern about the response they would face. And so, when we hear Jesus say “The harvest is plentiful”, and then follow this up with “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves”, I hear the latter warning far louder than the former promise … I guess just like them.
The thing is, no matter how daunting, the call wasn’t only to the 72 or the 12. As Jesus was about to return to His Father He told us “you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). For many of us, this means shining brightly for Him in the homes, neighbourhoods and workplaces He places us – we are all ‘salt’ and ‘light’ as a natural part of being ‘in Christ’ (Matt 5:13-16) as the character of Jesus is worked out in us (Gal 5:16-25). I was hugely helped by one speaker at CU when I was in University who said ‘we are all signposts – the question is only in which direction we are pointing … do our lives and words point to or away from Jesus?’ It’s a question which has resonated with me through the years.
And, what we need to realise, is that faithfully living and wisely “giving a reason for the hope that is within” (1 Pet 3:15) is enough. This is being faithful to His command to ‘go’, as we seek to “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph 5:15-16, Col 4:5-6).
But, we live in an incredibly connected world. This gives us opportunities to ‘go’ and serve Him in ways that could hardly be imagined only a few years ago. When you go abroad on holiday there are opportunities to encourage local believers by seeking out a local church on a Sunday. You have opportunities to live and speak for Jesus with those of many nationalities on the same campsite or in the same hotel. And, in the summer, there are opportunities to undertake short-term mission work, whether it be a week or two on UK or Irish Beach Teams, or a month in Europe with a mission like OM. With more health in retirement, there are opportunities to help mission work across Europe – for example, joining an outreach team in Montreaux during their Jazz Festival. I was so blessed by a retired couple from Bristol who decided to help reach Hungarian peoples scattered through Eastern Europe and founded a mission in their retirement, called 4H, which has reached tens of thousands for the Lord!
And, in our time, there are huge numbers of people coming from other nations to the UK. This means we can reach people who may have never had opportunity to hear the gospel who are right where we are … and, through them, potentially reach families and communities in their home country. Our Internationals ministry is seeking to do just that!
God’s opportunities for us to ‘go’ are far greater that ever before! There are so many ways of reaching the world for Him – more than possibly we realise. Our upcoming Missions Week will illustrate opportunities that maybe you’ve never considered before. We are praying that God will use this to release us all the more into His ‘Harvest Field’.