Aug

13

Reaching The One

By pastorbillwalden

Sierras de San Francisco

Las Sierras de San Francisco

Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The Bible says that “there is no temptation except that which is common to man”.  (1 Corinthians 10:13) My interpretation of that is this: we all struggle with the same basic issues.  The details may be different, but the root issues are the same.

One of the things that we struggle with is self worth. Is my life making a difference?

Let me share with you how the Lord ministered to me through this verse during my time in Baja Sur.  A little background information is needed.

I taught the third week of AViD. (see side bar and click for info on AViD .)  Our outreach trip was into the Sierras de San Francisco, a remote mountainous region that I love.  The region is home to numerous communities (ranchos) of goatherds.  They have lived there for many generations, and in the last 4 years of visiting them, I have come to know some of them by name, and have developed relationships with them.

One man is named Francisco, but his nickname is Manana, as in the Spanish word for “tomorrow”.  That is usually equated with laziness, but this man is not lazy.  I noticed on this trip that Manana didn’t look healthy.  I also discovered that his wife was with child.  They already have two beautiful young girls.

Since Manana and I have a bit of a relationship, I asked him candidly how he and his family were doing.  There hasn’t been much rain in the mountains over the last few years, and their goat herds have been thinning out and dying.   He answered slowly, and informed me that they hadn’t had much food for a long time.  The drought had made life tough, but this was their home, and they were going to stick it out and do the best they could.

I decided to return the next day with some food.  There was another family that was in need also, and this second family was a Christian family.  A young man named Jason from CC Pomona Valley went with me the next day, and back up the mountain we went with a hundred pounds of beans and rice, and numerous other items.  We delivered the food, sat and chatted, had the obligatory cup of delicious coffee, some watermelon (sandia) and then headed back down the mountain to Vizcaino.

As Jason and I bounced our way back down the mountain, an introspective spiritual battle began.  Here I was, away from my church, 1000+ miles from home, away from my kids, ministering to 2 families, and how much of a difference was I making for the Kingdom of God?  I began to measure the worthiness of my efforts.  Wait, it gets worse.

Fiery darts started flying into my head.  (Read on using your best Darth Vader voice.)  “God has given you this ministry because you can’t handle anything more than this.  You’re just a food courier to a few people.  God gives the important successful people ministries which reach thousands.  You have a ministry that reaches hundreds at best, maybe dozens.  You are a small man with small faith and few gifts.”

Well of course, in all my wisdom, I fought back using my own fiery darts.  I began to try to validate my presence and calling by human reasoning.   Sorry, but here goes. It sounded something like this:  “I am here because I care, and I can hack the heat and the bumps, and other people want easy ministry assignments, and they would never make it here, and they want the spotlight, and I am humble, and, and, and…” (ad nauseum).

I was wrong to entertain those thoughts, and the battle was quickly over, but it was real, and we all ask that question at times.  “Is my life making a difference?”

Side note- I was loving what I was doing until I started “thinking” about it.  That’s when the internal battle started.  When I just did what I was supposed to be doing, I was as happy as an almeja.

The bottom line is this: We shouldn’t evaluate our callings and ministries by comparing ourselves to anyone, whether they are higher or lower in our minds.  There is no Biblical basis for that, and a lot of scripture speaks against that kind of mentality.

The mental/spiritual battle didn’t last long.  We enjoyed the rest of the trip home, except for the two flat tires.  Ahhh…Baja.

The next day at our AViD class, we read the scripture that I posted above.  The part that really impacted me was this:  “…does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?”

The bottom line for my calling in foreign missions is this: Jesus has called me and given me a burden for what I am doing.  He allows me to do it, has equipped me to do it, and it is something that His heart cares about.  I love what I have been called to regarding foreign missions.  It’s not that I don’t love pastoring, I do.  But my call to Mexico is exciting because it is also a part His call for me.  “Reaching the many” and “reaching the one” are both important to Jesus.

So why write all this? Good question.  I write that we may all be encouraged to know that God calls us as He sees fit.  He is interested in the “little ones” that go astray.  (also translated: “insignificant ones”)

I love a new Spanish word I learned on this trip.  The word is carga, which means burden, as in a burden in your heart for someone or something.  It reminds me of the word cargo.

If God has given you a burden for reaching the one, the five, the ten….then praise Him for it and go for it.  Don’t second guess yourself, don’t measure yourself against those called to reach the many, and don’t disqualify yourself by letting the fiery darts get to you.

Embrace the burden that God has given you. Embrace it as being uniquely yours.  He “causes us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Go for it.

9 Responses so far

Pastor Bill,

That was awesome and courageous of you to write that. It’s not easy to be honest with oneself, not to mention with others!

Right on. Right on! Amen to all of it!

Jesus ministered in the way you’ve described: the demoniac, the Syro-Phoenician woman, the woman at the well, Bartimaeus, etc. When He left Capernaum to go out to the unwalled villages, it was no doubt a surprise to His disciples, seeing that so many were looking for Him back in the big city.

It takes guts and faith to listen to the Lord when other voices are saying other things.

Wonderful words of encouragement, Bill!

Querida Almeja Contenta,

Que bueno! Tu carta nos anima. Es muy importante recordar. Gracias!

This reminds me of the “carga” I have for homeless people. Being that I am one person, I have not yet begun a “homeless” ministry but I do have a heart for many of the same people I see.

Recently while in Napa I saw one man I used to talk with in Starbucks. I told my daughter, “that is probably one of my favorite homeless guys” and she looked at me so funny. I really think this is how God works as He is so personal. He places individuals on hearts who will respond because He cares for those individuals. If we aren’t his hands (and feet climbing those rocky mountains — Hinds’ Feet) . . . WHO WILL BE?? Will I rely on some humanitarian group to come and reach out to the homeless man who is talking to himself or can I make a difference in his life right now?

Does it make me feel good? Sort of but I am left with a prayer of, “God, please care for this man until I see him again” in sadness and concern.

It’s hard and uncomfortable to accept those situations that are challenging to us — like the people who are destitute, talking to themselves or, perhaps, just going through a time like Manana and his wife are.

We don’t know all angles of someone’s life . . . I’m sure the beans and rice were a real answer to this expecting mother’s prayers (unbeknownst to you, right?)

This is challenging to me to go the extra mile to, perhaps, buy lunch for that one homeless person next time. I know that won’t end the homeless population but, perhaps it will remind someone that God cares for them in a very real and personal way.

Truly inspiring passage.

THANKS FOR SHARING AND COAXING OTHERS ON TO GOOD WORKS, PASTOR BILL

Hi, Bill –

Your story reminded me of when I was tempted to question the value of my ministry in the grand scheme of things. I was pastoring South Valley Calvary Chapel in San Jose and Don McClure had just arrived to take over an Assembly of God church and bring it into the Calvary Chapel fold. We were less than five miles from one another. Don was a big name and I was (am) a no-name. In Courson genre: Don was a ‘who’s who’ and I was a ‘who’s that’?

Soon after Don’s arrival, I attended a pastor’s conference down at Twin Peaks. One of the pastors looked at my name tag and the city I was from and said, “Oh, you’re the guy in Don’s shadow”. I thought it was a strange thing to say and had never considered that perspective before. But the Lord immediately brought to mind the truth of Psalm 91 – ‘He who dwells in the shadow of the Almighty doesn’t dwell in anybody else’s shadow’. It was a liberating and refreshing revelation that still feeds my soul today.

Bill, if nothing else, you abide in the shelter and the shadow of the Almighty – and that’s cool!

Blessings – Tim Brown

Blessings on you dear folks who have shared here. I am so glad to know each of you.

Thanks for your visit and contribution to being a blessing to others.

This has been a big encouragement to me in visiting that one young man in prison, and loving that one difficult niece, and praying for that one sister. Thanks so very much. Those fiery darts have often made me feel like a piker in the ministry department – and of course, I know how I struggle to give the little I do, so they have a point (pun intended). But as I am learning, our job is just to do that one thing that is on our heart today, and leave the big picture to Him.

Pastor Bill;
Thanks for being so transparent and sharing so honestly and openly.

We all struggle with attacks of those ‘firey darts’.

It’s debilitating when we don’t bring out thoughts into captivity, but first we have to recognize the battle.

God is faithful to help us. He is our strength. These trials remind us that we are His vessels, once cracked earthenware redeemed by His grace, for His glory.

I’m encouraged in my walk by you sharing this.

I can relate to the families you reach in Baja a little.
As I grew up very poor and my mother raised four children by herself on a very low income.

I remember being hungry and sick because we didn’t have enough food, we sat in the dark because the power had been shut off, there was no hot water or heat.

I also remember people from a local church coming over and bringing bags of groceries to help us and toys at Christmas (which were the only Christmas presents the children would receive, and we were very thankful)…

What those Christians did for Christ to help us really impacted my life as the Lord was in those gifts.

Each and every person is worth His love.

Those people weren’t obligated to help us and they didn’t even know us, yet they gave to us and that planted seeds in my heart of Christ’s love.

Later in life I came to be the first Christian in my family and to be instrumental to lead others in my family to Christ.

To God be the glory GREAT things HE has done!

Thanks for the encouragement that we all are loved the same by the Lord, He has no favorites.

Blessings,
Helen

Another one reached (touched)!
Awesome! I’m just grinnin’ ear to ear! Great stuff, Bill!

Love ya man!
Cisco.

Buenos Dios Pastor Bill!

Your revelations are so encouraging, inspiring and refreshing. As we all struggle to find our “worth” in bringing others into the Kingdom, isn’t it true that it only takes one “lost sheep” to go tell the others? As we all know, there are many, many stories in the Bible that tell us this. However, we can struggle also in that question, “how can I further Your Kingdom when I am so wrapped up in my own? ” Only God (thankfully) truly knows our hearts and our motives. 🙂
Yours in a mighty ministry in Mexico. May we be people of prayer as we stand by you and all those who go( helping to extinguish the fiery darts) to minister to the lost, burdened, weary, hopeless, but usually happy with what they have been blessed with, people in Mexico. May God continue to bless and increase all that is being done down there.

Karen

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