Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Cry On the Front: The Cry We Don't Hear At Home

Suppose you are a soldier on the front line. The war was on. You load your arms with ammunition. You fired. One dead on the enemy’s front line. Two. Three. Four and until your bullets are gone. But the enemies kept coming. Their number seems to have not diminished despite all your firearm’s effort to hit them. You look beside you. Your fellow soldiers are still firing but some have the same problem that you have: lack of ammunition. You look behind and you see your troop’s lines thinning. You look back to the front. Amidst the thick smoke and dust your enemies are still firing and they’re killing your fellow soldiers.

The enemy’s front lines are closing in. They’re near. There isn’t much time. You flung yourself to the ground, reached for the radio in your pocket and called out, “Private Johnson here. Do you hear me?! Send more troops and extra ammunition! Get it fast! They’re closing in!” Bullets whiz just inches above your head. Nobody answers. Three hills away in your barracks, your fellow soldiers are playing cards with others as spectators. Some are polishing their rifles. Some are in firing practice. Some are in deep argument of tactics for attacks. They were there but none heard you call. You frantically call out again as thick black smoke blinded you. Your call rang out but all that heard you was a room full of maps and defense and attack plans. And none of the soldiers you need. You cried out. Again, no answer. You coughed and breathed heavily as you cried out again wondering where they are. A bullet finally found its way and whizzed through your head. You’re dead. And nobody heard you.

That’s a picture I’ve drawn of how I see missions today. It’s so sad and heartbreaking that missionaries sent to far flung places toil hard and even get killed for His kingdom yet very few at home cares. On Sundays, we hear a lot about on how the Gospel should be proclaimed to the ends of the earth and every after Sunday, we forget and get on with our daily routines, hardly giving thought to the perishing.

I love what John Piper wrote in Don’t Waste Your Life about his “wartime” lifestyle based on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

“It tells us that there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief. It tells me that there are weapons to be funded and used, but that these weapons are not swords or guns or bombs but the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love.”

As teens, we need to hear the message of wartime again and again. We need to gear ourselves for war. Easily do we get blinded and drawn with what the world has to offer. Fashion, technology, music, socializing, fun things (cute little things for us girls), and school can easily make us forget the work of the Gospel and our part in it. We forget that billions have no notion yet of who Christ is and that people die everyday. How many of them have heard the gospel?

I have been reading Global: Vision, Passion, Action by L.E. Maxwell. In it is a story Maxwell shared of a missionary’s view of today's missions. It broke my heart and was ashamed of how many times I’ve let the thought of the perishing slip from my mind.

One of the hardest things a front-line soldier has to endure, whether in military world or in the missionary world, are the unknowing, unfeeling, unresponsive folk at home. Let me give you a page from a missionary's experience. He left his station and went exploring in a new needy area in the Far East. He said,

I spent some day finding out roads and details, sleeping in dirty longhouses, people about as wild as they could be, stark-naked men and women... running from me for fear... What were my reactions to this trip? Sadness, impatience, bordering on disgust.

Here's a vast new mission field, ready to be entered, waiting for many years because we have no missionaries to place there. Rich America, with its thousands of young people trained and ready for service, yet not one for these tribal areas. Over the radio, on my return to my station, I heard a music from America, young people singing, "We've a story to tell to the nations;" but it all seemed a mockery. I switched it off.

What more can we do to get these people evangelized? Do the people take us seriously, or are we just miserable enthusiasts? We write books, make movies, send thousands of newsletters, spend furloughs pleading for help, trying to get some to go as missionaries, and the people go out into eternity without Christ, while the church at home glibly sings missionary hymns.

How long are we going to ignore the calls they send from the front? I know, not all of us are called to be in the frontier but as far as missions is concerned, each of us have a part to play in bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are supposed to be soldiers marching to war. But what have we become? We have become soldiers in the barracks. Complacent. We are content in the safety of our homes, locked in the Christian lifestyle of peace. Never attempting to war with the world. Obliviously, our lives have quietly slipped back in agreement to the world. Our ears have tuned in to our iPods listening to the latest best-selling album, shutting the call on the front. The call that we must heed but chooses to heed not.

Should we remain this way? I hope not.

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