Stephen Davey, a pastor in Wake Forest, a small town outside Raleigh, once preached at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. During his sermon he asked the folks there, “What do you weep for?”
Mercy Church, I want to ask you that same question … What do you weep for? What do you weep for? What breaks your heart? Or, to be more direct and specific, when is the last time you were moved to tears over someone’s lostness and where they are going to spend eternity if they don’t surrender to Christ and trust Him as Lord and Savior?
Psalm 126:5-6 says, “5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Myself and six other people from Mercy recently returned from a short-term mission trip to New York City for a sifting week with an organization called Global Gates. Our team was in Jamaica Queens, which is among the most diverse places in the country if not the most diverse when it comes to the vast array of nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and religions represented. God has brought the nations there, including a slew of unreached people groups.
The highlights were how He so graciously let us be a part of five salvation stories. Yes, we saw five people give their lives to Jesus and go from death to life! Several other Gospel seeds were planted. We’re trusting God to provide other laborers to water those seeds and continue the discipleship process with the new believers. As the Apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Only God can give the growth, and only He has the power to save. It’s our job to pray to the Lord of the harvest and to labor. See Luke 10:1-12. So, we had shouts of joy as we came home with our sheaves.
At the same time, it was the stories of rejection, lostness and separation from God that I can’t get out of my mind and weigh heavy on my heart. One in particular has brought me to tears multiple times while we were up there and since we have gotten back to Charlotte.
Early in the week we met a Muslim family. It was the month of Ramadan, so they were fasting from food and drink during the day and could only eat at night after the sun had set. They invited us into their home. We shared the Gospel with them, and then they had us break fast with them. This was a huge deal. We were complete strangers, and they had us join them for something that was sacred and intimate for them as a Muslim family. That’s true hospitality and kindness. It was a sacrifice for them to do that, especially with people they had just met.
That was a divine appointment, and by God’s grace He gave us the boldness to wade into it and we went after them with the love of Christ that compels us to pursue the lost. Like Pastor Rashard Barnes said several weeks ago during our “Getting Started” series in his sermon on missions, sharing the Gospel is done by proclamation and demonstration. We proclaim by verbally telling others the Gospel message, and we demonstrate by living sacrificially and putting the needs of others before our own. They need to work in tandem.
We went back to that family’s home two more times. We listened to them share about Islam, and we read Gospel accounts to them from Mark and Luke. We did what friends do – spent time together. For our last meeting, we took them a gift and a letter to express our appreciation for their kindness and generosity. One of the family members even asked how he could repent and be saved, but wasn’t ready to believe when we told Him that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6). It was heartbreaking to not only see the lostness of our new friend and his family, but it was even more painful when he rejected the message that can save his life. The word of the cross, which is God’s power to us, was folly to him. I was moved to tears after we departed, but have hope that God isn’t finished writing my friend’s story. So, I’m going to believe God, who is able to do far more than I could ever ask or imagine, for my friend’s salvation.
Last week reminded me and the rest of our team that laboring is hard, but Christ is worth it. Pastor and theologian John Piper said, “Missions exists because worship does not.” Jesus is only worthy of our worship, because He has done everything necessary to save us through His perfect sinless life, death and resurrection. God offers salvation to all who accept the perfect gift of His Son.
Jesus commanded us to go and tell this good news and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). We do that not only because Jesus commands us to do so, but also because He made us into new creations and when He did that we became ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). That means we take Jesus to whoever we meet and wherever we go. It’s our calling, because Jesus made it our identity when He purchased us with His finished work on the cross.
God made people, and He wants to know them. We were made to be in relationship with our Creator. The Gospel is for all peoples, and it should break our hearts when people don’t know Jesus or reject Him.
So, Mercy family, what do you weep for? The thought of lost people should break your heart. The harvest is great, but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2). We don’t have a harvest problem. We have a labor problem, and if you’re an ambassador of Christ that means you’re called to be a laborer, too. So, pray to the Lord of the harvest, and join His mission. The field is waiting.