Embracing “Small Things” Key to Large Ministry Returns
March 29, 2012
The following is an adapted excerpt from an update by an Alliance couple pioneering work in North and Central Asia. In this region, less than 1 percent of the population has an opportunity to hear about Jesus’ message of eternal hope.
“Who despises the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10 NIVUK)
We were living “the dream.” Our comfortable life in the Midwest offered us wonderful predictability and a sense of security. So, imagine what it was like when we received an unexpected phone call that disrupted our dream.
The call was a challenge, an invitation to lay the groundwork for a completely new ministry with a completely new team in a spiritually dark and needy region of the world. “Why us?” we asked ourselves. “We have no lengthy history of pioneering a new work. Surely there are others more suited for such an assignment!”
But the Father remembered the commitment that we had made to Him many years earlier. We had told Him that He could send us wherever He wished, to do whatever He wished for as long as He wished.
The Prophet Zechariah’s name means “God remembers.” God wanted the prophet and His people to remember that they were not to “despise the day of small things.” He also reminded them of another essential key to fulfilling His call: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty’” (Zechariah 4:6b).
In remembering these things, and what He had done for us, we were able to say “Yes!” to Him.
Baby Steps, Giant Leaps
In our new home, the predictability of our former life in the States has been replaced by the unpredictable. We cannot depend on the postal system nor upon a 24/7 supply of water and electricity.
Each baby step in learning our way around this new country and its culture seems like a giant leap.We need to get around in a new city but do not know what bus or metro line to take. The comfort of getting all that’s needed in one trip to Wal-Mart now requires several stops in several places.
Imagine having to find housing for your team members and appropriate schools for school-age children. Team members who are parents are stressed, wanting their kids to find new friends to play with. But language barriers and differing schedules make contact difficult.
We need to learn the language. (Labels at the market are in one of three or four different languages, none of which is our own.) Yet few Westerners have tried to master this language, so a proven course of instruction is virtually nonexistent.
But we are here for the long haul and realize that long-term ministry effectiveness requires a short-term emphasis in language acquisition.
So, how do we face these seemingly Everest-sized tasks? We remember that the same Spirit who brought us here will help us—because the Father so loved this people that He sent His Son to reach us and then sent us to reach them.
And we embrace these days of doing seemingly small things. Yes, a few more hours each day are spent acquiring the daily necessities of life. Yet, meals begin to offer pleasant surprises as we learn to adjust to different spices and metric measurements.
While shopping, we meet vegetable ladies who need the Savior. It is on the crowded buses that we meet people who are genuinely thrilled to know that we are here learning their language!
Christmas greetings announcing the birth of the Savior and small gifts given to flower ladies, beggars, and local artists selling their artwork are small things by the world’s standards. But when these small acts are led and empowered by the Spirit, we trust that they will prepare the way for a wonderful harvest.
What You Can Do
Praise God for this couple’s obedience to lead a new ministry in a spiritually needy nation; pray that God would open doors for the team to see a wonderful harvest. Pray for Alliance workers the world over, who must lean on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to effectively reach those from other cultures with the good news.
Learn about the Great Commission Fund, and make a donation today. Partner with dedicated Alliance workers worldwide who are daily taking small steps to spread the good news about Jesus in word and deed.