Source: Baptist Press, October 11, 1019
In March of 2014 tanks and guns and men with masks appeared on the streets of Kharkov, Ukraine, throwing everything into upheaval and threatening the 23-year religious freedom that had nurtured this post-Communist generation. Nearby cities of Lugansk and Donetsk were also under attack by separatists, but those battling in Kharkov didn’t know what they were up against.
Pastors and evangelical leaders put out a call for prayer—seven o’clock every morning, in the city square, for anyone who wanted to fight the real battle taking place for their city—the spiritual battle. Within a week, 150-200 believers showed up to fight on their knees because they remembered the spiritual darkness that shadowed their land under Communism. This wasn’t a political battle, it was and is a spiritual battle of epic proportion as their freedom to worship, meet together as churches, pray publicly, and share their faith with others was all being threatened.
“This is the generation of the children whose fathers were killed for their faith, whose fathers spent most of their time in prison for their faith. We knew the real face of Communism, and it was trying to come back. We were standing on our knees, and we said, ‘Lord, we don’t know what to do. Our eyes are on you, Lord.’ The only hope was on the Lord,” said Pastor V., a Baptist pastor and one of the leading organizers of the prayer meeting.
“At this point, I’d be afraid not to pray,” said Pastor V. “We know what’s at stake.”
» Full story includes five lessons learned from these praying Ukrainians.
By Shane Bennett
Mission mobilization is a little goofy. It’s weird enough simply to care about missions. What kind of person is so into Jesus they want him to be followed by people who’ve never heard of him before?!? But mobilizers? Well, being “into missions” is not enough for us! We’re compelled to persuade our parents, our kids, our church friends, and the kindly doctor who sells us contacts that they too will be happier and more fulfilled when they dedicate their next breath—and all the rest—to God’s glory among the lost and unreached.
I tend to think God looks on us kindly, maybe bemusedly. That’s nice. Other people? Maybe less so. Which is not so nice.
Of course, it’s hard to make any money as a mission mobilizer. So maybe you have a day job and are working your mob magic avocationally. Good for you. If the old adage is true about the candle that burns twice as bright burning half as long… well, we’re happy to have you while we do.
For me, having purpose is a key catalyst for mobilization motivation. I honestly believe it matters. And I believe you matter.
But sometimes you question that. And sometimes it’s just so tiring. And then that one person said that one thing and you thought, “This is what they mean by ‘the straw the breaks the camel’s back!’”
If you can’t relate to that right now, no worries. You go straight here and here. If it feels a little familiar, though, can you spare a couple of minutes for me to show some care for you? Offer a little encouragement?
I’m only asking for about five minutes of “you go, girl,” and “you’re a rock star.” The whole enterprise won’t grind to a halt if you take a minute to catch your breath and sharpen the saw (hat tip to Saint Stephen).Stuff to Remember 1. You’re making a difference.
Is this hard to imagine sometimes? I get that. An hour or two spent on Facebook when you were planning to file your 501(c)(3) paperwork or call a few pastors. Whole days when you honestly wonder, “Is all this effort really accomplishing anything?”
Can I give you some Bible? You have treasure in your jar of clay and you were made to accomplish good stuff God prepared in advance for you to do. God lives in you and smells good through you. You have no idea how much God is doing with your one wild and precious life!
The story of my life is peppered with little cameos. Someone walked onto the stage, breathed life into me, and walked off. Others, known to God alone, sought good for me from their knees in the darkness of their prayer closet.
You, likewise, are having effect you may not see. Don’t give up.2. God will provide.
Don’t give up! God knows what you need. I can personally attest that not all mission advocates are killing it from a financial perspective! If you are, good.
Maybe you messed up and you think you’re disqualified. I can relate. Of course, I don’t know you, so maybe you are disqualified. But probably not. If the Bible is any indication, God’s capacity for using flawed individuals is pretty strong. And you and I both know effective mobilizers who have at times made us cock our heads in wonder like German Shepherd puppies.4. God wins in end.
If there’s anything I’m pretty sure of it’s this: God’s going to win. Although writing this short piece last week worked a minor epiphany in my mind: This victory will “probably not exactly be the way I currently understand God and winning, but God will win. And you and I are invited to hasten that victory.”Stuff to Do 1. Take a breather.
If you mobilize for missions on top of your day job, good for you! I hope you have capacity and inclination for vacations. Are you a professional mobilizer? (That is a thing!) Try this: Submit a budget proposal to your supervisor for enough funds to cover a week-long retreat. I hear that voice in your head! Your church or ministry doesn’t do that. (Maybe you could help them start doing it if you subtly implied you were considering jumping ship to my new org, Healing Nations!)
There never seems to be enough time or money to take the breaks you need. I get that and am a prime example of falling short in this area. Honestly, though, I’ve never heard a colleague or friend return from a deliberate retreat and say, “What a waste of time. I was bored out of my head!” Get the rest you need.2. Up your forgiveness game.
Forgiveness is the leaven of our lives, the wine of The Way. Can I invite you to renew your commitment to receive and extend it? Be encouraged by this recent, stunning example of forgiveness by Brandt Jean to his brother’s killer. (Haven’t seen it? You may want to grab a Kleenex while the video loads.) This is the kingdom of God: Realizing we need forgiveness and humbly, gratefully accepting it. Then with the sweet taste of it still in our mouths, offering it freely to those who wrong us.
To not offer forgiveness, as the winsome Anne Lamott says, “is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Jesus said God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others!3. Press on in the face of adversity and betrayal.
About a year ago, a couple left the church I attend after a relentless and perplexing campaign against me and the organization I worked for. It was troubling, time consuming, and painful. Maybe you’ve recently felt the surprising sting of betrayal. I’m sorry if you have. We’re people and it happens. But God’s got your back.
David Murrow recently shared on his blog, “Betrayal is not a sign that something is wrong. Instead, it’s a sign that God is at work. Almost everyone in the Bible was betrayed. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. David. Paul. And of course, Jesus… And who betrayed these heroes of the faith? Not some stranger. Someone close. A fellow traveler who shared their faith.”
If it hasn’t happened, it probably will. May God give us each grace to act like Jesus when the time comes.4. Link up.
Finally, mission mobilization can be a lonely enterprise. You’ve poured your passionate guts out before, haven’t you, only to have someone say, “Uh, yeah. Cool. But who do you think will win the World Series?” I’m excited to know who’s going to win the World Series, but I also need people in my life who care about the nations, especially the unreached. You probably do too.
- If you’re feeling a little isolated, visit a Perspectives course. Your kind of people hang out there.
- Maybe join one of my friend Jeannie Marie’s Virtual Community groups and interact with people who are figuring out where they fit in God’s great world.
- If Muslims are your jam, you might like to be a part of my Muslim Connect tribe. Subscribe to the super short weekly email here.
- Maybe you just need to share your story and get some prayer. I set up a Facebook group for feedback and mutual care specifically related to things in this article. Visit it here. Like the page to stay connected for its (likely 2-3 month) duration. We’ll talk, empathize, pray, and dream. Mostly we’ll realize we’re not alone. If you have a business card with some form of “Mobilizer” on it, please, please, please share a picture!
Mobilizers matter. You matter. Keep up the good fight. We’re with you. A crown of glory awaits, as do sisters and brothers from all over the world. I for one am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with you. I am honored to be your friend.