Sacrificing Our Small World for His “Every Tongue, Tribe and Nation”
WHEN I WAS A SENIOR at Wheaton College, my roommates and I had Greg Parsons, the director of the U.S. Center for World Mission, over for dinner. Halfway through the meal, Greg asked me what I wanted to do after I graduated. I told him that I was trying to decide between being a missionary or being a mobilizer, one who challenges people to become missionaries. Greg responded saying, "Give me one missionary and you'll have given me about 100 new believers. Give me one mobilizer and you'll have given me 100 new missionaries and therefore 100 x 100 new believers." After Greg's challenge and the encouragement of many mission agencies, I spent the last year traveling across the country. From UCLA to Ohio State, from Texas A&M to the University of Minnesota, I have had opportunities to meet with campus pastors and student leaders, spend nights in dorm rooms and frat houses, speak in large-group settings and across tables in dining halls, all that I might share with students God's desire that all peoples might know Him.
It was not an easy time, but God was surely with me. After some visits I would walk away wondering if I had done anything at all. At other times, the results were obvious, obvious that hearts were touched--but even more so that it was not me. The Spirit of the Lord had done the touching.
At one school in the Southeast, a student pulled me aside at the end of my time there and shared how he had been convicted by what I had said earlier in a seminar. Yet, throughout the week he was concerned about his girlfriend--soon to be his fiancée--who, to his knowledge, had no desire to go to the mission field. He decided to ask her what she might think about such a choice of life. To his great relief, she jumped up and exclaimed that the Lord had similarly challenged her heart during that very same seminar. He assured me that the two of them had decided that night that God was calling them out as a couple to bring the Gospel to the nations. Yet, it was not just me who did the challenging and the teaching. On each campus, I gained a fresh glimpse of what God is doing through this new generation.
Many of the campus leaders I spoke with expressed that their student groups have doubled--if not tripled--in the past 3-5 years. Passionate groups of co-eds have begun to yearn for something deeper. It is not irregular to find small groups gathering in living rooms on a Friday night to simply sing praise to our God. It seems as though everyone knows how to play the guitar, so that at any time one might be able to lead a group in worship of the King.
But what many of these students need, and are not receiving, is a correct theology of worship.
Worship to many of them is the hour of singing, and no one has stretched them to understand it as a lifestyle. I continually urged them to understand Romans 12:1, that true worship is a bodily sacrifice. If they truly desire to worship Him then they will sacrifice their desires for His, their small world for His "every tongue, tribe and nation."
I do not ever intend or hope to discourage them from seeking Christ in musical congregation, but simply that those experiences might be their springboard to service and a lifestyle of praise. After all, it was Isaiah's worship experience, not a mission speaker, that led him to say, "Here am I. Send me." (Is. 6:8)
When I first began my travels, I wanted to shout the need of the nations to any ear that would hear. I soon learned that calling out missionaries was not my job. My work was to lead them to Christ, and let Christ call them out.
I began to lead worship times in which students would come in by the masses to meet with Jesus. Then I would show them from the Scriptures that no worship experience ever ended without a step of action. I also helped them see God's desire for the nations. Then I left them alone to listen to the heart of God and His calling.
It was in Matthew 9:37-38 that Jesus told us to ask "the Father to send out workers into His harvest fields." It is not we that do the sending, but God. Our job is to fervently pray, "Father, send them out" and then lead them before His throne room to hear Him ask, "Who will go for me and whom shall I send?" (Is. 6)
I asked the leader of one of the most effective college ministries, in terms of mobilization, how he got students to look to the nations. He answered, "It's simple. I don't. I get them to look at Jesus, and then I pray. Oh, I pray, 'Father, send them out!' "
It was John R. Mott that said, "By far the greatest need of modern mission is that of united, definite importunate prayer. This alone will lead the church in this time of times to lift up her eyes and behold the fields."
In this young generation there are worship leaders around every corner. Imagine the impact if we could convince these leaders of the need to pray that God would send their worshipers out. Could we help them to see that every time they bring their peers before the face of God, they must give them a chance to hear from Him, to hear God's desire to send them out?
God has raised up a generation of worship leaders. We must convince them that they are also mobilizers, that every nation may worship Him.