As we prepare for our next move to Kawasaki City to start a new Christian Kindergarten with a bilingual church renewal ministry, I came across a very timely word from Matt Perman’s blog. In view of the great and ultimate sacrifice that Christ paid on the cross, it would even be embarrassing to write about the little “sacrifices” we have been called to make along the way. As Watchman Nee puts it: “Consecration demands the highest sacrifice, yet it is filled with the sense of glory and not with the awareness of sacrifice.”
But a “word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25: 11).
Matt’s blog post is timely because my wife & I have been saturated with Bible reading, praying, working, packing, calling the moving company etc, as we are motivated by God’s grace. He quotes from Andy Stanley‘s book titled, “Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision.”
If God has birthed a vision in your heart, the day will come when you will be called upon to make a sacrifice to achieve it. And you will have to make the sacrifice with no guarantee of success.
I talk to people all the time who have what seem to be “God ideas” but who are unwilling to commit with both hands and feet. The conversation often begins with, “If I had a million dollars.”
A well-meaning lady once said to me, “You know, I am so burdened by the problems in the inner city. If I had a million dollars, I would love to go down there and start a school for underprivileged kids.”
As sensitively as I knew how, I said, “I know people with far less than you have now who have started schools for inner-city kids. You don’t need a million dollars to start a school.” What she needed was the courage to act on her vision.
The difference between those with a burden for inner-city kids and those who actually do something is not resources. It is a willingness to take risks and make sacrifices. The people who make a difference in this world commit to what could be before they know where the money is coming from. Their vision is enough to cause them to jump in. Money usually follows vision. It rarely happens the other way around. Consequently, vision always involves sacrifice and risk-taking.
Following the remarkable description of what marks true success in Christian ministry, Paul asks: “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16b). Friends are wondering why we’re heading closer to the North when the Nuclear Plant isn’t as stable as it used to be. We have also been greatly challenged, at times, to take several risks along the way (which I will not venture to speak of in detail here). But up until this time of writing, God has always met us where we are. He has faithfully met & matched our needs, even when it seemed like no one would help (Phil.4: 19). We don’t need a “million dollars” to start the Kindergarten school in Noborito, Kawasaki. We don’t have the luxury of churches supporting us, like western missionaries do. We don’t have everything figured out, although we believe in making plans. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 8).
Planning & Risk-Taking: Although we believe in making plans, we don’t always have everything figured out because we’re learning to trust Him for the unknown. Our societies are built upon the principles of achieving safety, security, comfort & convenience because everybody wants some kind of a political utopia. A radical risk-taking for Christ is out of the question when we have learned to function only within what’s familiar. In that context, trusting God for the unkown & taking risk becomes harder, but “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” It is the “conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11: 1). It is a gift from God. He has shown Himself faithful in all His ways, down to the minutest details of our lives. He just provided us with an apartment 2 weeks ago (which is only 3 minutes walk from Noborito Church, 4 minutes walk from the station; and only 20 minutes from Shinjuku in Tokyo). God has called us out of His own sufficiency & grace.
Source of Hope: The real source of hope in world missions is neither statistics nor resources ultimately, but faith in the promise of God. “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ). Our great hope in missions is that God’s Word has not failed & will not fail. What a joy!
- If God has called you to step out in faith, just go. He’ll sovereignly direct your steps to where He wants you. Don’t worry too much about rushing ahead of Him. You’re not that fast ! Trust in the sovereign leadership of the Spirit for specific guidance (Acts 16: 6-10).
- Devise plans & be ready, but trust in God not in your plans. Your plans can fail but not God. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).
Finally, please “pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thess. 3: 1).
Click image below to visit the new Kindergarten school website.