(October 22, 2019) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, brings an encouragement from his heart as he shares some personal memories…
So often we hear great challenges from missionaries and pastors calling for Christians to make a difference for Jesus in this darkened world and to help build the kingdom of God. But, sadly, many of us belittle ourselves, thinking how could we make a difference?
Let me share something personal about myself, recalling some of ‘my story and journey’ so as to encourage readers who feel inadequate – or are wondering what God wants of them, what can they offer…
More than fifty years ago God revealed to me that we all can make a world of difference. Back then I was a new convert and knew little of God’s word and will. But… I can still remember clearly the moment after an inspiring service at a Christmas Christian camp when a man of faith laid his hands on me and prophesied that I could make a world of difference.
Me? Me? I had never been out of Australia!
But then, as his prophecy was concluding, I saw a vision of hundreds of thousands of people from multiplied nations around the world. Kevin Conner, who prophesied over me, finished with the words: ‘You will go to the nations, where God will use you for his glory.’
‘On the shelf’
That was back in1950 at Beulah Heights Camp on the fringe of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and I had no idea what that prophecy meant and did not at that time realise the significance of what Kevin Connor had said. So I virtually stored the experience away on the proverbial shelf because I could not understand it back then. Since then, over many years, I have done the same thing with anything I do not fully understand. (I’ve learned over my lifetime that is a safe practice until God shows me the meaning).
Then, in 1968, I was asked by my state superintendent to pray about becoming an understudy to our fellowship’s missions’ leader. I could not comprehend this invitation back then but I prayed and then left it at that because I could not see myself in such a role. But when I was asked a second time to pray I realised that this was a serious request and one I should honour.
Remembering the time some18 years before when Kevin Conner laid his hands on me and prophesied that I would go to the nations, I – my (late) wife Nancy – prayed regularly about this possibility.
Months went by until the day the superintendent phoned me requesting that I meet with the World Missions Council in Melbourne. Between that invitation and the actual interview God clearly instructed me to do whatever the Missions’ Council asked of me.
Journey to the nations begins
And that obedience was when my journey to the nations began!
I did not dream back then that I would do any more than work with our missionaries who were serving in Papua New Guinea at that time. They had accomplished much by the grace of God and our conference had ruled at the time that PNG was to be our only mission field so that we wouldn’t spread ourselves too much and lose the effectiveness of our missions’ work.
Space here does not allow me to tell in full how God took me to PNG – and beyond to the world by his grace. I would become the World Missions’ full-time director and over the next thirty years our fellowship would send hundreds of missionaries to a total of thirty countries. This was God’s doing and it was ‘marvellous in our eyes’!
As God has led me I have visited many countries around the world – Dr Kevin Connor’s prophecy has come to pass!
But my point here is this:
I believe that we each must do what God has planned. We may not become a mission’s director, a missionary or a pastor… however we can be and do whatever he enables us to do. The question of ‘making a world of difference’ is linked to God’s will for each of us. We can make a ‘world of difference’ for people, wherever God sends and uses us for the advancement of his kingdom. The will of God is perfect. If we each will do our part and obey his calling and directions, together we will make a world of difference.
By sharing the gospel, sharing our testimony, sharing Jesus, by responding to every opportunity God gives to serve, we can make a world of difference for…
- One person
- Several people
- A family
- Multiple families
- A community
- A town
- A city
- A country
- A people group
- Many people.
The all-importance question
Will we each obey the call of God to share our faith? To touch people for eternity. To do God’s will for our lives… whatever that may be. Only as we do that and walk in the Spirit and not the flesh will we make a world of difference!
I remind readers that we’re talking about salvation here. The whole plan of salvation for humankind was born in the heart of God. Jesus himself declared God’s heart when he stated ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
The Bible records shows that the miracle birth of Jesus Christ, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, his coming again and every work of the Holy Spirit in the world and in human lives is to bring God’s plan of salvation for all to pass completely.
When – and only ‘when’ – the gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations (locally and abroad), will Jesus return! Not a day earlier or a day later. Date setting is a waste of time. We must complete our assignment(s) now and then Jesus will come again.
Concreting on our calling
I am convinced that too many believers concentrate on the wrong thing (date setting). Rather we must concentrate on fulfilling our calling to serve God ‘here and now!’ When the church has witnessed to every nation, shared the gospel with the unsaved in ways they can understand, then the glorious end will come, not before.
Jesus told in Matthew 24:14 that ‘… this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations. And then the end shall come.’ Notice that ‘shall’ occurs twice here – firstly, ‘the gospel shall be proclaimed’ then secondly, ‘Then the end shall come.’
‘Shall’ is a word of command, an order. This is the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. His commands are to be obeyed, not just considered.
Too many believers, over too many centuries, have discussed and debated the future of the world rather than recognising the imperative that must first be obeyed and fulfilled before the ‘end’ can come. In James’ letter to the twelve tribes of Israel, the apostle says, ‘Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains’ (James 5:7).
The apostle was writing about the harvest that must be gathered before the Lord returns. Christ is coming again… however; he is waiting for the precious fruit of the earth. There is absolutely nothing more important on God’s calendar than this harvest of souls.
- There is no other harvest on earth as important or as crucial.
- Natural harvests may be lost through drought or severe weather, but this harvest must not be lost!
- If it is those who have not heard about God’s love for them will be eternally lost. That would be a tragedy of unbelievable proportions.
There is a glorious end coming when Jesus comes back. One that has been dreamed of, preached through the centuries, believed in since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our great God and heavenly Father planned it to fulfil his purpose on earth among all nations, including his beloved Israel. He declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:10).
The fact that God is in charge should not only challenge but encourage believers everywhere whether new Christians or not so new. At the same time, we must walk in the light of what God has purposed and planned from eternity past for eternity forever.
God will accomplish his purpose because of his love. May we all play our role by answering his calling on our lives… and believing that each of us can make a difference!
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org