It was 1980-something and our church had invited a missionary to speak. Inevitably, this meant the service would go long, so I decided to sit in the balcony.
By the time the missionary began his appeal, I was already praying. He raised his arms and said, “God needs people to go into the harvest, people willing to say, ‘Here am I, send me.’” Moved by these words I continued praying, “Not me, not me, O, please God, not me.”
The missionary continued, “And God is calling the person out there that is saying, ‘Please God, not me’”.
Startled by the missionary’s words and fearing I had spoken out loud, I continued to pray, “Heavenly Father I know you are a God who answers prayers, please don’t send me. I have a brother, send him. I’ll pay.”
I spent 30 years trying to forget that day.
For the last six months I’ve been working with Freedom to Lead International (FTL), a ministry that provides leadership development among under-resourced ministry leaders in third-world countries. I had been to Africa with FTL just a few months before, but this past February was my first time in Kenya. We were there to visit with an organization that provides discipleship training, socio-economic services,, and help among those persecuted for their Christian faith. This organization’s focus began as a ministry among the unreached people in Kenya, but they have since expanded to nine additional countries in East Africa. We were there to explore a partnership with this organization; we also taught FTL’s four-day module entitled “Leadership For a Healthy Church.”
When I stepped off the airplane in Nairobi, I realized I was actually happy to be back in Africa. My colleague would be arriving six hours later, at 3:00am. After communicating this to our host, he smirked at me and whispered, “I’ll send ‘Marcus’”.
Over the next few days we were able to get to know our driver “Marcus.” A former Muslim, his wife was taken away from him when he decided to follow Jesus. His story is not an unusual one. In fact, choosing to become a Christian is often very costly in that part of the world.
“Marcus” could not attend any of the FTL module. He took care of details while forty of his colleagues could participate. On the third morning of our training, Marcus picked us up from our hotel. As we got into the car Marcus looked like he had seen a ghost. He stared at us with unblinking eyes. There was an awkward silence and I wondered if we had gotten into the right car.
After several moments, Marcus said, “God sent you to us. We’ve been waiting so long for a teaching like this.” Marcus then went on to share how the group had responded the night before. “Last night people were crying and confessing,” he said. When the car started down the road,Marcus’ excitement continued as he shared how much he was learning. He recounted some of the stories that the other participants had recounted. In those evening hours. The group had already begun to transfer and share what they had learned with others.
My life has changed because of meeting “Marcus.”
The words of the missionary from thirty years ago came back to me. “God needs people to go into the harvest, people willing to say, ‘Here am I, send me’”.
It’s not always easy. But for these faithful leaders serving unreached people, it’s worth it.