Do you support missionaries at your church? Perhaps you support them as an individual or as a family? But are you really “on the field” with them? Why not? Find out what this means as Matthew, a missionary on the field in arctic Alaska, explains how you can be and how you should be on the mission field with your missionaries!
Are YOU on the Mission Fields with your Missionaries?
Read: (Matthew 9:36-38)
Introduction: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Every time I have read this passage myself, I have seen this passage only from one angle. But I believe there is another level of depth to this passage that too many times we don’t dig far enough down to. I have always read this verse and believed that the labourers that are said here to be few that we need to pray for to be sent to the fields, refer to you and I. And that is one hundred percent true. But we many times like to make a sharp division and say that we each have our own personal mission field. For instance we would say that Bro. Mattachera and his family are called to go to Zambia Africa, so that is their personal mission field, but not ours. For the rest of us that stay here in Martville, we would say that this as our personal mission field here in Martville but not the Mattachera’s. And if God has told us to stay here, then we need to pray to God to send more missionaries to physically go to places such as Africa.
But at this moment in time, we have a problem that I have noticed being on deputation these last couple of years in regards to modern day Missions. We have what I like to call a missionary traffic jam. Hundreds of missionaries as we speak are trying to get to their perspective fields, but there are not enough churches willing or able to take the missionaries on financially. As a result we have hundreds of missionaries right now on the highway of deputation, ready to go to the harvest fields, but are bogged down in a traffic jam for years and years, trying to get to their destination, their mission field. You say what is holding them up, why are so many missionaries on deputation for 2, 3, 4, and even 5 years trying to get out to the mission field? I believe it’s because we here as church members put too much of a separation between us and the foreign missionary. I believe right now the problem isn’t getting more missionaries to surrender and physically go on the mission field. I believe the problem is you and I. The problem with modern missions is churches like us here at EBBC that only have our hearts here on our mission field of Martville, and not on the mission fields all over the world. We need to pray to God that He would send yours and mine heart as labourers to go with the Mattacheras, that He would send yours and mine heart as labourers to go with the Wrights, that He would send yours and mine heart as labourers to go with the Saxtons to the inner city of Rochester.
Turn with me to (1st Corinthians 3:1-9)—Read— We know that the one that plants the seed would be the missionary because he is the one that sows the seed into the people’s hearts by preaching the word to them. But I believe the ones that water the seed that is now in the heart of the hearer is found in (Psalm 126:5-6) “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” The one that waters is anyone that weeps and cries over the souls in the field. And (vs. 9) says “we are labourers together”, so in (Matthew 9) when God says that we need to pray for God to send forth labourers into His harvest, I believe we need to not only ask Him to physically send missionaries, but to place our hearts on the mission fields with the missionaries and be broken hearted over the people there just as the missionaries are, that we could weep over them and see them saved, and through it all we will be labourers together in the same field! Now look with me at (Acts 1:8) I believe the reason why we here at EBBC and churches all over the Country are unable to take on any more missionaries is because our hearts are not even on the missionaries and mission fields that we currently support. Why would God give add to our church more missionaries, if our hearts out there with the missionaries we already support? That’s not how God works (like with those He gave the talents to).
• Turn with me in your Bibles to (John 11:11-28) Earlier in this text Jesus told his disciples that it was imperative for them to go back into Judaea because there was a great need there. But His disciples were worried, and they even questioned His sanity and said to Jesus in (vs.9) “the Jews sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither again?” And as any good missionary does, Jesus looks past the danger and begins to explain His burden, showing them that the mission field and the need is so much more important than the danger that can be found there. He was attempting to spread His burden from His heart to their heart. —Read (John 11:11-28)— Christ the missionary preaches the gospel here to Martha, but not only did he preach it, look with me in (John 11:32-35)—Read—, Jesus did not just preach the gospel to the people, He had compassion on them and loved them (also vs. 5). If any missionary is going to do anything for Jesus Christ they not only have to get a burden for the people, but most importantly have to develop a love for them, and Jesus had both. But look at the next two verses: (vs’s 36-37) “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” This shows us again the love that Christ had for those He ministered to, but more importantly it sheds a big spotlight on a problem with the people around Him. The people that were there called Lazarus “this man”, and the way they referred to Lazarus tells us so much about their hearts. They had no care or love for Lazarus. Here were people that came to his grave site. Those that come to the grave site of someone, it usually means that they are some of the closest friends and family that loved and cared for the deceased. This shows you that Jesus Christ, who hadn’t known Mary, Martha, and Lazarus more than a few years, had a great love for them, while those that walked beside them every day for years could care less. This teaches us that most of the people in this world are hardly loved by those they see daily and have known for years. The world is looking for real genuine care for their souls, the world is looking for people that are broken hearted for them, just as Jesus Christ had for them.
But not only should the Missionary’s heart be broken for the people there on their mission fields, but our hearts should be just as broken for them as well. We all need to have One Broken Heart on the mission field with our missionaries. (1st Corinthians 12:12-27) You might be thinking; “How in the world can I have my heart pulled in so many different places like that and still have the same care for them all?” It will only be possible in the Lord and through the Lord. We need to ask the Lord to help us in this matter because the solution for our apathy for lost souls is the need of a supernatural intervention. We need the Lord to get ahold of our hearts and cause us to be “moved with compassion” as we look upon the multitudes and multitudes of harvest fields, we need to beg the Lord to extend our hearts to go with our missionaries to the fields and help our hearts to be broken for the people there, just as much as the missionary’s hearts are broken for them. When is the last time that you have read and prayed over the missionary’s prayer requests that the Brailey’s put out for us? I know we come here on Wednesday nights to pray for our missionaries, but when is the last time that you have spent time in prayer for all of your missionaries that you support being part of this church? These are your mission fields, have you prayed for all the missionary’s family needs, have you prayed for all of the souls in those nations? When is the last time you spent just minutes a day in prayer for your missionaries? We like to make excuses of why we can’t pray to the Lord, let alone pray for our missionaries. We say that we don’t have any time. But how much time do we waste doing other things, things that only feed our fleshly appetite, when we could be in prayer? Look with me in (John 15:12-13), many times we think of this verse as physically taking a bullet for someone that you love, but most of the time you won’t be given the opportunity to take a bullet for your missionary. But you know what you can do? You can lay down your life by laying down your will, and your desires. And instead of all the time doing the things that you want to do and that make you happy and that pampers your flesh, why don’t you lay down your will and get on your hands and knees and lay down your life and pray for your missionaries?
The more you pray for your missionaries and the souls there, the more your heart becomes broken there, and their mission field becomes personal to us, and it becomes our mission field as well. We need to have One Broken Heart on the field with our missionaries.
• Turn back with me to (John 11:39-45)—Read— No one thought that it was possible that Lazarus could be brought back from the dead, they figured it had been four days, and they assumed that he would be just a stinking mess and it was be a fruitless effort and a waste of time to try and help him at that point. And you know that’s what the world and even many Christians believe today. That this deal of reaching the world for Christ is a fruitless effort, that it is just a waste of time and effort. That these people are so dead in their sins in Africa, in Rochester, in Alaska, and all over the world and that they stink so bad in their sin that it would be pointless to try and reach them. But I don’t know about you but I am so thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t think that way about my poor, miserable, stinking, rotting, dead in sin soul, but that He reached down and spoke to me and said arise! And when I repented of my sin and believed on Him and received Him as my Saviour He brought me forth grave clothes and all and set me upright placing my feet upon a firm foundation!
Lord willing we are going to continue to get fired up about missions this week, and about being more of a part of missions, and having one heart with our missionaries, but we all know what happens. Once the missions conference is over, and the daily preaching is over, then our flesh, the world, and the devil loves to bring circumstances into our life such as family problems, work problems, financial problems and just life in general to get us focused away from eternal matters. Just as those that were around Jesus Christ that kept on trying to tell Him that it was a waste of time and pointless to try and save Lazarus, so will all those around you try and do the same. All those around the missionary will try and do the same to them to try and discourage them. But we all need to have One Endless Drive. Not only will those around you tell you not to try to reach souls, but they will get mad at you and upset at you when you actually do see souls saved! (vs’s 46-48,53). When all of these oppositions start to come in and come in strong then we need to more than ever give, pray, and go to help our missionaries that we support, and have one broken heart and one endless drive, that together we will see souls saved by God’s grace and power! But too many times we are like those that were “religious” around Christ. You know that it’s very easy for us to get distracted and lose the drive to pray for our missionaries, it’s very easy for circumstances to come in and distract us from having our hearts broken with them on the field.
We all know the story. The Titanic, a British passenger liner, struck an iceberg off Newfoundland on the night of April 14-15, 1912, and sank. There is part of that story, however, that is not widely known.
One of the passengers on the Titanic was a godly Pastor from Scotland, by the name of John Harper. Harper had recently spent three months ministering at the Moody Church in Chicago, during which time the church had experienced one of the most wonderful revivals in its history. He had not been back in Britain long when he was asked to return and continue his ministry. He quickly made arrangements for himself and his six-year old daughter, Nana, to travel back to American on board the Lusitania. However, he decided to delay their departure for one week, so that they could sail on a new ship, the Titanic, which was about to make its maiden voyage.
On Sunday the 14th of April, 1912, the day when the iceberg was struck, the weather was fine, the sea calm. Harper attended the church service for the passengers. His niece reported that later that afternoon she saw her Uncle speaking individually to people about their souls. It seems he was in the habit of seeking out the lost sheep wherever he went.
The Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. As the call was issued for passengers to vacate their cabins, Harper wrapped his daughter in a blanket, told her that she would see him again one day, and passed her to one of the crewmen. After watching her safely board one of the lifeboats, he removed his life jacket and gave it to one of the other passengers. One survivor distinctly remembered hearing him shout, “Women, children and the unsaved into the lifeboats!” Harper knew that believers were ready to die but the unsaved were not ready. Harper then ran along the decks pleading with people to turn to Christ, and with the ship sinking, he called upon the Titanic’s orchestra to play, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” Gathering people around him on deck, he then knelt down, and “with holy joy in his face” raised his arms in prayer. As the ship began to lurch, he jumped into the icy waters and swam frantically to all he could reach, beseeching them to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved. Finally, as hypothermia set in, John Harper sank beneath the waters and passed into the Lord’s presence; he was 39.
Four years later, a young Scotsman by the name of Aguilla Webb stood up in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and gave the following testimony:
I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The waves bore him away; but, strange to say brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ and shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.
Apparently God wanted Webb’s amazing testimony to be shared, because only seven people were plucked from the icy water that night to join the survivors in the lifeboats. Webb was one of them.
In the Hollywood movie of the Titanic, nothing was said about John Harper, but he was truly one of the great heroes of the Titanic. In the face of death and drowning, he was concerned about the souls of men. How is your concern for the souls of men? There may be so much going on around you, but do you still take the time to have concern for souls all around the world?
• (John 12:3-5) Mary spent a great deal of money on Jesus’ feet. And of course she was looked at as though she was crazy for wasting that money. Just as you and I are looked at most of the time as crazy for not only giving your tithe to the church, but also giving extra money towards “feet” that go and preach the gospel in distant lands (Romans 10:15) “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.”
Turn with me to (Isaiah 30:24), (Isaiah 32:20) —Read— Many times how it worked in the Old Testament is that God would send rain down upon the fields and flood out the land for the crops, and as the water soaked into the land, the sowers would throw the seed on the water and then they would “ear the ground” which means they would get oxen to walk over the soaking wet field. As the oxen would walk over the soaking wet field this would open up the ground to receive the seed. That is a perfect picture of what we are supposed to be doing. As our hearts are there on the mission fields, and as we are weeping and broken God waters the field with our tears, He waters the ground of the lost souls there that they may receive the seed which is the word of God. And we send forth missionaries and as they walk over the field they sow the seed on the field and as they continually use their feet carrying the gospel they are “breaking up that fallow ground” to receive the seed. But for this to work, a joint effort is needed. If there is no water soaking into the fields, then sending oxen to walk into the fields will not open up the ground. Are you watering the fields with your tears? Over and over we are told that God has cups that He fills up, He has cups of wrath and once they are filled up to the brim that is when they get poured out. But turn with me to (Psalm 56:8)—Read— Not only does God have cups of wrath when they get full, but it looks as though He also has bottles that catch every tear that you and I cry. The question I have for you is, how much have you wept over the souls in the fields? I wonder if we have wept enough that it would fill up a whole bottle that God would have to finally pour it out over that mission field so that it could soak into the Heart of the souls on the field, so that finally as our missionaries that are walking with their feet with the gospel, finally are able to open up the fallow ground of those hearts, and the seed finally gets planted into the ground, and souls get saved!
Conclusion: I have always thought about how humbling it will be when I get to Heaven, if someone that lived on the other side of the world from me, came up to me in Heaven and thanked me for supporting the missionary and sending them financially because the missionary I sent with my money led them to Christ. But how much better would it be, if these souls in Heaven would come up to us and not only say thank you for sending the missionary financially, but that they would say to you and I, thank you for you being there with your broken heart for me. Thank you for seeing my name on your missionarie’s prayer letter and spending time broken hearted over my lost soul, and weeping over it. But what would be even more humbling, is if Jesus Christ walked over and placed His arm around that person, and while looking at you with tears in His eyes says to you; “Thank you for not only sending your missionary to the field financially, but most importantly thank you for being there with a broken heart, weeping over this child of mine. Because you wept and were broken over my child here, I don’t have to send him to hell for all of eternity, but I can now spend sweet fellowship with them forever!” That is the Everlasting Footprint that we should all be striving for. Pastor Kinney and Brother Saxton sang a song last night which said; When He holds out His hands, and when I look upon His face, I will wish I had given Him more.”