Let's Get on With It

Desiring God 1995 Conference for Pastors

The Primacy of Expository Preaching

One morning we took a small baby, a Rwandan refugee baby, to a French tent hospital just on the outskirts of Goma, Zaire. And while our doctor, Dr. Mike Anderson from this church, took the baby inside to discuss the complications of dealing with the baby’s sickness with the French doctors, I was standing outside near our vehicle. I noticed a group of maybe 12 women with these huge pots over an open fire cooking beans for the patients of this hospital. And I asked our French interpreter to come with me, and I walked over just because I wanted to see how they did this cooking.

And as I watched these ladies stir the beans, I became very concerned for these ladies because of the agony that was just written on their face. And I just began to talk to them. I said, “I’m sorry for the difficult situation that you’re going through. You’re refugees from your own country. You’re having to live through all this sickness and you’re surrounded by all this death.” And as I began to speak, I noticed the men who were standing around. They all stopped their work and they began to listen. They gathered closer. And I said, “I’m a refugee. I’m a Christian. This earth is not my home. I’m on the way to my true home which is in heaven. Have you heard of heaven?” And they all stopped stirring their beans and I began to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not an evangelist, but I could tell them of Jesus.

A few minutes later, they called us to leave, and as I ran to jump in the vehicle with my interpreter, all of these women and men began to call after me. As I got in the vehicle, I asked the interpreter, what were they saying? What were they saying? And she said, “They were saying, oh, thank you for coming and telling us that wonderful story.” Any of you could have done the same thing. When we call up in our work and we wonder if God could possibly use us for his glory. He can, friends, and he does. He does.

A Practical Strategy for Spreading the Gospel

In 1886, William Van Horne was the man responsible for building the first transcontinental railway in Canada. When his foreman and engineers would tell him of all the reasons why it was impossible to build such a railroad, he would simply answer them, “Why are you coming to me with all these problems and excuses? We’ve been commissioned to build a railroad, so let’s get on with it. Let’s get on with it.” We as pastors, we as the church, need to be about our Father’s business and get on with it. The it is taking the gospel to everybody. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . .

The late preacher Vance Abner said:

The fact that the gospel is not popular is all the more reason for preaching it. The very fact that men cannot endure sound doctrine is all the more reason for seeing that they get it. It is not our responsibility to make it acceptable; it is our responsibility and our duty to make it available.

In Matthew 9:35–10:8 in our text, we read of a practical demonstration of the strategy of Jesus Christ in taking the gospel, the good news, to everybody. This strategy outlines three things that we as Christians are to do. The first is to expand our field, the second is to expand our forces, and the third is to expand our faith.

Expanding Our Field

Number one: we must expand our field. Look at Matthew 9:35–36:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Notice that Jesus was going about all of the cities and villages. Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. John Calvin said, “There is nothing which we ought to desire more earnestly than that the whole world should bow to the authority of God.” C.H. Spurgeon, in challenging a pastor said:

Preach the gospel, the gates of hell shake; preach the Gospel, prodigals return; preach the gospel to every creature. It is the master’s mandate and the master’s power to everyone who believes.

Jesus was burdened for the masses because they were helpless. We need to expand our field of vision, our burden, and our concern and compassion for the lost today, because they too are helpless.

The Helpless and Needy

There are 500,000 villages in Europe. There’s a lot of emphasis on Russia today. There are 500,000 villages in all of Russia and Europe with not one Christian in those villages. There are 80 to 100 million homeless children living on the city streets of the developing world. In Latin America alone, there are 40 million children that have been abandoned by their parents and put out on the street to exist like animals. Instead of having adults, parents, loved ones caring for them, they’re out alone, totally without any help.

In the city of São Paulo, Brazil, there are 800,000 homeless children. In Mexico City, there are 240,000 abandoned children. In Bogota, Colombia in South America, not too far from here — a four hour flight from here — there are 8,000 children that are living on the streets. And in one three-day period last summer in Goma, Zaire, during the Rwanda refugee crisis, nearly 700 people were dying in Goma every single hour. There are approximately over 1 million Rwandan refugees in Goma today with only a few Christians aggressively telling them the gospel.

In Manila, a world class city, are 900 depressed slum areas with over 400 which do not have a local church. One of these slum areas has 40,000 people with no church. In that city of Manila, over 100,000 children exist like animals on the street worldwide. Worldwide there are 40,000 children who die daily from malnutrition and diseases. Some of these diseases your church could have possibly prevented.

Twenty-eight children die every minute, 140 die every five minutes, and 1,667 will die in the hour that we sit here. It is estimated that throughout the world, 55,000 people die every day without any knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember Our Main Motive

But let me give a word of caution. When we speak of the hopelessness and helplessness of man, we need to be careful that this doesn’t become our main motive of missions. In the words of the teacher and preacher Oswald Chambers, he said, “This missionary enterprise must be based on the passion of obedience, not on pity.” The thing that seems to move us today is pity for the multitudes. The thing that makes a missionary, however, is the sight of what Jesus did on the cross when he died there for our sins, and to have simply heard him say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

Let me ask you, pastor, have you ever heard the Lord Jesus tell you very simply to go? In all the years of attending Bible school and college in seminary classes and studying the Scripture and meditating in the word of God, have you ever heard at least once the Lord Jesus saying to you, “Will you go for me? Will you go?” Like the Church of Antioch, who had five leaders, while they were praying the Spirit set aside two of the leaders of the church. It wasn’t some immature 21-year-old new Christian, but one of the leaders.

You, as a pastor, could be that. Paul and Barnabas went, have you ever heard the Lord Jesus say to you, “Go to the ends of the earth with the gospel?” Jesus saw the multitudes, do you see?

Go to the Afflicted

A few years ago when we began our work or beginning our work in São Paulo, Brazil among street children, we really did not know anything about these children. We just knew that there were 800,000 of them living on the streets. I was interviewing one little nine-year old boy at two o’clock in the morning with his companion, speaking through a Portuguese interpreter. I began to ask this little boy about his life on the streets, and as he began to tell me about his life on the streets for the last two years since his mother lost him, I began to cry. He looked at me and he began to laugh. He said, “Gringo, you’re crying.” Because they thought that a man never cries, and I was crying. And he made fun of me.

And finally after a few taunts, I said to him, “Yes, I’m crying because your story is very sad. Haven’t you ever cried?” He said, “Oh no, I’ve never cried, he said.” I said, “Come on. Haven’t you ever cried at least once?” And finally, he said. “Yes. About two weeks ago, I did cry.” I said, “Tell me about it.” And very embarrassed, he began to tell me that he and a friend that he was living with on the streets had found a loaf of bread. It was early in the morning and the bread wasn’t moldy, it didn’t have bugs in it, and it wasn’t wet from the rains because it was the rainy season. And they were so happy with this loaf of bread. And they went over to the steps of a big office complex building there, and they were sitting in the early morning sunshine and they were enjoying this bread, eating it together.

He said that all of a sudden my best friend heard his name being called, “Jose, Jose.” And he said, “My friend looked up, and it was his mother calling him.” It was his mother, who had lost him on the streets when they came in from the countryside to do some shopping when he was only seven or eight years of age. She had looked for weeks and weeks and she couldn’t find him. This little boy had been lost for over two years. And now Jose and his friend were together as companions on the street for those two years. And this boy said he ran to the arms of his mother, and his mother took him by the hand and they walked away and they didn’t even turn back to wave goodbye. And he said, “I began to cry because I wished my mother would find me.”

Let me ask you, pastor, isn’t there someone here that has a church that has people that you could send to find that boy in São Paulo, Brazil? Is there anyone in your church of 30 , or 40, or 50, or a hundred, or 200 members? Isn’t there at least one in your church that could go and see that boy, find him, love him, care for him, and share the gospel with him? Isn’t there anyone?

Expanding Our Forces

Yes, we need to expand our field, but secondly, we need to expand our forces. Matthew 9:37–38 says:

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray (beseech, beg, plead) earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The harvest is great, friends, but the laborers are few. The problem is not the harvest, but with the lack of harvesters, the lack of workers, the lack of missionaries. Now listen carefully. There are 3 billion people in the world with no gospel witness. If these 3 billion unreached people were divided into groups of 5,000, and if the church sent one missionary to each group, we would need 600,000 more missionaries. And some people have the audacity to say that the day of sending missionaries from this country is over, when there’s a need, not for 6,000, but 600,000 more missionaries?

The solution to more workers is prayer. In the words of our texts, plead the Lord of the harvest. C.H. Spurgeon said:

Do not reckon you have prayed unless you have pleaded, for pleading is a very moral of prayer.

God wants to answer prayer in and through each one of you pastors. Each of us needs to pray personally that the Lord of the harvest will send out some of the elders, some of the leaders, some of the deacons, some of the ushers, and some of the Sunday school teachers, no matter what age, from our church to the fields of the world each year, not just a few times every decade. Each year our church should send missionaries. Pray that the sovereign Lord would send some of the young and the middle-aged and the old, and to send some of you, to send all kinds of people from your church — the educated, the not-so-educated, the average, the ordinary, and even the not-so-ordinary.

God Equips the Called

When it comes to ability. I’ve always been at the bottom of the list. I graduated from high school early simply because the principal gave me my diploma so that I wouldn’t come back to school after Christmas, never learning to read or write. I was converted at 21, went to Bible school at 22, and in two weeks, flunking. Can you imagine the embarrassment of a 22-year-old person failing all of his classes in a Bible school? It wasn’t a college like Bethel or a seminary like you went to, but a Bible school. I was failing all my classes within two weeks because I couldn’t read a paragraph and comprehend and answer questions.

I was put into a special tutoring class with three immigrants from Russia and two from Poland. They didn’t even know English. I was being nurtured through those three years of Bible school. And during those three years of Bible school, hearing for the first time about World Missions, I heard this man from France plead for his country and 37,000 villages with no gospel witness, and then I walked up and talked to him afterwards. I said, “I’ll join your mission.” Then I had people help me fill out application forms that I couldn’t understand, nor could I answer the questions. In three years I applied to 30 different missions and nobody accepted me. I don’t know why.

Finally, I applied to a group called Operation Mobilization. Have you heard of OM? They take anybody. I still remember Operation Mobilization. I joined for a year and ended up staying for two years. I got in the wrong vehicle. I was supposed to go to France, but I ended up in India. Don’t complain about disorganization in your church, just go with OM for a while.

And in that, they had a study program. In the study program you were put in several levels of study for that year and they had the advanced, the intermediate, and the beginners. Well, I knew that I wouldn’t get to the advanced area, but I was sure I would probably get in the middle area, certainly not the beginners. I mean, I had three years of Bible school. I remember taking the test and when I finished, the three men called me up and they all stood up and shook my hand, and they said, “Congratulations, Doug. You’ve made the lowest grade in the history of Operation Mobilization.” I mean, that was my beginning. But I wanted to go with OM — well, they accepted me, that’s why I wanted to go with them. I wanted to learn. You see, I wanted to learn to share the gospel.

Learning to Declare the Gospel of Grace

I wanted to learn to be able to declare the gospel of grace. I didn’t know how. We got to India and the first thing that happened, my first opportunity, I came down with tuberculosis. I went to a TB sanatorium. It was a government TB sanatorium, not a Christian hospital, because you see, OM didn’t have any money. There was no money to fly back to America, no money to go to a good hospital. So I was put in a government sanatorium, which is free. And I was so discouraged, but I knew I had to be there.

The government of India wouldn’t let me go to the hospital at first because it’s only for Indians. But someone died that day and they put me in his bed. They didn’t even change the sheets. And the first day I was there, the Indians were staring at me. The Indians are very gracious and kind, but in the hospital, they were so upset that I was there as an American. They thought I should be someplace else. They didn’t understand that I didn’t have any finances.

I was so discouraged, but I still wanted to somehow communicate the gospel to them. So I started going from bed to bed in my weakness in giving out gospel tracks. I gave out the gospel tract Does God love you? in their language. Indians are usually so gracious, but they would take my tract and they would just tear it up and throw it in my face. No one would accept the gospel book, like no one would accept the tract. You can imagine my discouragement after finally getting through three years of Bible school, finally getting to India, finally finding a mission that would accept me, and I’m stuck in a TB sanatorium and no one would even take a gospel track and nobody liked me.

In my discouragement, I was asleep that night, I woke up at two o’clock in the morning coughing. I had tuberculosis very badly. And as I was coughing, across the aisle from me in a bed, there was an old man who was awake. And I watched him and he was doing something strange. I didn’t understand what was happening. He would get up and put his feet on the floor and try to stand up. And then he would, in exhaustion, fall back into bed. He would try it again and fall back. He would try it again and then fall back. And finally he just laid there. I didn’t quite understand what was happening. The next morning I knew what happened. He was simply trying to get up to walk to the toilet.

The stench filled the ward. The other patients were mad at him. One threw a cup at him. The nurses came in to change his mess. One of them slapped him on the top of the head. She was so angry. He just curled up into a ball and cried. The day went by and I tried to give more tracts, but people were tearing them up.

The Energy He Powerfully Works Within Us

The next morning I woke up at two o’clock again, and I looked across the aisle. The man was trying to get out of bed again. Evidently my coughing had woken him. He was trying to get up to go to the bathroom. And I’m just like some of you, I didn’t really understand the Indian culture. Would it be proper for me to become involved in this situation? What if I offended him? He didn’t like me anyway. Would this be the right thing to do? Is it okay for a man to pick up another man and go to the bathroom?

All these things went through my mind. I have not been trained at Bible school to take old men to the toilet. I didn’t read anything in the Gospels about that. I didn’t understand what to do. But I had memorized the verse in James:

He that knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him in his sin (James 4:17).

And finally, it just seemed like Colossians 1:29 just came into being. The apostle Paul worked not according to his power, but according to God’s strength, God’s power. Suddenly I was across the aisle. The man was lying there crying because he knew the situation he was going to be faced with again. I touched his shoulder and his eyes came open, fearfully. I smiled, and before he could say anything I put my arm under his back and I put my other arm under his skinny, frail legs and picked him up.

Even though I was weak, I was stronger than he was. And I carried him down the hall and around the corner into this smelly toilet that we had with just a hole in the floor. And I remember angling him around and holding him under the arms while he went to the toilet. When he had finished, I picked him up and carried him back to his bed. And I still remember this. When I put him back on his bed and I leaned down, my face was close to his face and he kissed me on the cheek. I was totally exhausted. I went over to my bed and collapsed and immediately went to sleep.

The next morning, at about 4:30 a.m. I felt someone waking me up. I woke up and there was another Indian patient that I did not recognize, and he had a cup of steaming hot Indian spiced chai and gave it to me. Well, I was shocked. I took the tea and I thanked him and he stepped back a couple of feet and then he began to motion for me to give him something. I didn’t understand it at first, but then I realized. He wanted one of these booklets. And I was excited.

I reached under the bed, I had a box there and I took one out and I gave it to him. He thanked me in his language and then he walked away. Soon there came another patient, he wanted a gospel booklet. Soon another patient, and soon another patient. Here came one of those grumpy nurses who wanted one of these. Here came one of the doctors, one of the interns, another patient, and another patient. By noon that day, all 350 patients, the doctors, the interns, the nurses in that hospital had a Gospel of John, a Gospel of Mark, and a booklet telling them about the grace of God. And over the next several weeks, many of them had come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And why, why the difference? Simply that I had taken an old man to the bathroom.

God Uses Those Who Are Willing

You could have done that. Any of you could have done that. I can see some of you doing the same thing. I can see some of you, even if you are not the best preacher in the world and know little about evangelism, taking a projector out in the back roads of India or Columbia or Brazil or Mexico, gathering a group of people around you who love movies, and showing a Christian film in the language that they understand and telling them of Jesus.

Last year in our small film ministry in the Philippines, 87,000 people professed Jesus Christ through these film showings. You could do the same thing. I can see some of you, some of the men in your church who have practical skills working on an emergency team, entering a poor slum squatter area after a volcano or an earthquake or a typhoon or a flood or a fire and beginning to rebuild the homes of the poor for Christ’s sake, for the people for whom he died.

There are 15,000 prostitutes in Manila between the ages of nine and 12. There are 800,000 prostitutes in Thailand between the ages of 12 and 16. I can see some of the young ladies in your church in their twenties and thirties working with a team on the streets of Bangkok or Calcutta or Manila between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. I can see you approaching one of these girls between the ages of nine and 16 and putting their arms around this girl that nobody likes. The only person who ever touches them is another man who is lusting over their body. They’ve never known the love and the clean touch of a Christian and one of the ladies from your church putting their arm around them and telling them about Jesus.

Fearful, Timid, and Moving Toward the Broken

The first night we just wanted to experiment what it would be like to work in this red light district and see if the girls on the street would listen to the gospel. And that night we had a girl from Kansas City, a teacher, who was six feet two inches. She could have played for the Kansas City Chiefs. She was with us. On the bus on the way down, we had taught them to use the navigator bridge illustrated tract. Some of you have seen it. It emphasizes repentance. And we had taught them in English, but we gave them the national language Tagalog booklet to use. We knew that many of the Filipino girls know English, but they read better in Tagalog. And this girl, Linda, was six feet two inches, not really having any reason to fear for her safety, was fearful in going to this new task.

I tried to encourage her and my wife tried to encourage her, but we were still afraid ourselves of what we were going to face. As we got to the red light district of Manila, we got off the bus. Linda, in her fear, didn’t know what to do. Finally, I just simply said, “Linda, there’s a girl there. Go and talk to her.” Just a few feet away, standing on the corner, was a little girl. She was 4 feet 10 inches or so, 14 or 15 years of age. Linda walked over to her in her fear. And you know how if you’re fearful sometimes you come across too strong or too loud. Linda approached this little girl, looked down, and said, “Listen to this.” And the girl looked up and said, “Yes.”

Linda began to share the booklet really tactfully and loudly. She got halfway through, and she looked down and she saw this little girl. Linda is doing everything wrong. She sees tears coming down the cheeks of this girl. Linda realized what was happening and she stopped and she said, “Oh, I am so sorry. Have I offended you?” This little girl looked up at this tall lady’s eyes to her face and said, “No, you haven’t offended me. I just never knew anybody cared.” Linda backed up, went to the beginning, and in softness and compassion for this girl’s soul, began to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her. When she finished, she prayed with the girl.

The girl then said to Linda, “Would you wait here for a few minutes? I want to go get one of my friends, and I want you to tell her what you told me.” So she ran off. A few minutes later, she brought back a friend and she said, “Miss Linda, would you tell her what you told me. And I will help you because you really didn’t do a very good job.” I can see some of the women in your church doing that.

I can see some of the women in your fellowship who have a concern for the needy babies of the world, planning baby showers and collecting blankets and diapers and baby clothes and vitamins, and then packing and sending them to homes for abandoned babies in Brazil or the Philippines or Columbia. I can see some of you who love books — and many of you do love books by the way you’ve purchased them here — gathering hundreds of good used Bible study books in your town or city and shipping them to needy pastors and christian workers in India and the Philippines. These pastors’ average salaries are only $30 to $50 monthly and have libraries consisting of only two to five books. And I can see those pastors weep for joy as they receive these books.

What Might You Do?

However, I can see others of you and you know who you are, who like to quote where Jesus said to suffer the little children to come to me and do not hinder them. You say how much you love little children, but you very seldom ever show that love. Although you may not purposely hinder children around the world from coming to the Savior, what have you ever done in your life or ministry that has made it easy for a child in São Paulo to heed the call of Christ, to come to the Savior, to know of his love? What have you ever done?

I am sure even with your low salary at your church that you could afford 25 cents a day. You could set aside 25 cents a day. The mocha you love costs $2 a cup. You could afford 25 cents a day, and you didn’t need all the books that you purchased back there. Even if you did buy all those books, you could still possibly afford 25 cents a day. Just 25 cents a day, couldn’t you? And you could do the same, and you could do the same. If all four of you did that, 25 cents a day, that’s a dollar a day. That’s not very much. If you did that for one month, that’s 30 days. That’s $30.

Thirty dollars is what it takes to take a child off the street, a child prostitute, at 12 years of age, and take that little girl to a camp for one week. Your 25 cents a day with these other four would take a child to camp for one week. It would pay for the transportation to the camp, the rental of the camp, the salaries of the counselors and the staff of the camp. It would provide three meals a day, two snacks, a sheet, a pillow, a little mat, a package of soap and a washcloth and toothpaste and toothbrush. It would provide a New Testament, study material, a pencil, a change of clothes. Thirty dollars is all it would take. There’s 200 of us. If we did that, do you realize what would happen?

We could send 50 children every single month to camp. A child from São Paulo or Bocata or Mexico City or Manila could hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. You could do that, with over 100,000 street kids in Manila and 800,000 in São Paulo. They don’t have a father and they don’t have a mother. Their only brothers and sisters are other gang kids who live on the streets with them like animals. They exist by stealing and begging and eating out of garbage cans. It’s as if they’re on a nightmare train to nowhere. But oh, how they would respond if someone would gather them together and love them for Christ’s sake. I can see some of you and some of the people in your church in the middle of New York City or Los Angeles or Minneapolis or Manila or Calcutta or Bocata or Mexico City leading a bunch of gang kids to glory.

Wiping Away Their Tears

Our son, Robbie, a couple of years ago worked with inner city street kids of Seattle. At the end of the summer, he heard I had an appointment downtown. He said, “Dad, I’m having a picnic for the boys at this park. You’ll be passing the park. Would you mind stopping? I want to introduce them to you and you to them.” I said, “Sure.” So I pulled into this park around noon. Robbie saw me. He ran over and he gave me a hug. All these kids who love Robbie — he’s like a Pied Piper for kids, they just are glued to him and follow him everywhere — ran over with him and he introduced me to him. They didn’t believe we were father and son because he’s Chinese and I’m an American, and we had to take out our IDs and show that we really were father and son.

Then these kids hugged me and Robbie was going back over to finish preparing the lunch. He said, “Oh, dad, would you do something for me? See that boy over there?” And I looked over and about 30 yards over here with a boy that was about 16. He was a tall boy, bigger than me. He said, “Dad, these other 20 boys have been picked on by him all summer. When I was over fixing lunch a few minutes ago, they jumped in on him and just tore him up. They finally had had enough. And dad, I haven’t been able to check on him to see how badly they’ve hurt him. Would you go over and check?” So I said, “Sure.” So I walked over.

Now get the picture. I’m not a children’s worker. I own a dark suit and I have short hair. I look like a cop. I didn’t have an earring on my ear or nose. I didn’t have long hair. I didn’t look like I knew anything about kids. I walked over to this inner city, rough, gang kid who was 16 and bigger than me. He was leaning up a tree just crying his heart out because he was so embarrassed that these kids had beat him up. As I walked up to him, I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around with his fist. I said, “Wait, wait, I’m Robbie’s dad. He just wanted me to check on you to see if you’re okay.”

And his face was all snarled up. I have bad eyes, so I reached up and I said, “Let me check to see if you’re okay.” And I took his head in my hands and I pulled him close. My eyes are bad, so I could see. Here’s this boy’s face right here in front of me. I said, “Oh, that cut. We could sew that up, no big deal. That tooth will grow back. No problem with those lips.” They really messed him up. His nose was bleeding, so I took my handkerchief and I wiped his nose. Tears were coming down his face. I took these two thumbs, white thumbs, that really don’t understand about this street child, and I wiped his tears away.

And I noticed as I was doing all of this, he kept getting closer and closer and closer. And when I wiped the tears away, his head fell on my shoulder, his arms went around me, and he just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I found out later he had never been touched with a clean touch. The only people that had ever touched before were homosexuals. They raped him. Or his mother’s new boyfriend that threw him out of the house so he could spend another night with the mother. He had never had a clean, fatherly, Christian touch in his life. Pastor, you could have done that. You could have done the same thing.

Reaching Out With Hands of Love

Last month in Manila, one of our street workers in Sin City (Olongapo, Philippines), said, “Doug, I want to introduce you to these children in this government center. We have just taken 60 of them to camp and 30 of these kids have come to know the Savior. I want to introduce you to them.” As we walked down this street, here’s Ron Homenuke, an ex-professional hockey player from Canada who, because of an accident, was paralyzed from his neck down and only over the last 10 years has learned to walk again.

As he shuffled down the street, I was with him as we came near the government center and the kids were out playing in the front yard behind all these bars. They saw Ron coming and they began to cry out with excitement. And as the gate was unlocked and we went into the center, he took me around and he introduced me to the children and these government workers, several of the workers who had trusted Christ also. I noticed these kids were climbing all over us, wanting to be touched and hugged and everything. And I noticed a little boy, an ugly boy with a scarred face. He had no teeth, no shirt. It looked like somebody had taken his little, frail body — he was only six or seven — and had burned him all over his chest. He was shy. He was timid because I’m so big. But I noticed wherever I went, he was right there just a few feet away.

And all the cute little kids were climbing all over me and hugging me and jumping on my back and hanging on my neck and hanging on my arms and legs. I would just reach over with my hand and pat this little boy on the head. He liked that. He really liked that. He wouldn’t come any closer. I would just pull his ear, pinch his nose, pinch his cheek, and pat him on the head. And we were there for only about 30 or 40 minutes, and he was always there. He wouldn’t get any closer, but he was always just nearby. Thirty minutes later as we walked out the gate and all the kids hung on us and we’re shaking them off. We walked out the gate. The gate closed and the guard locked it. I turned around and all the kids were hanging on the gate. I noticed the little boy standing there just about two feet on the other side and I took my hand and I put it through the gate, and as it went towards his head, he grabbed it. He grabbed it and held on for dear life.

As I walked back to the vehicle and I got in the van, I bowed my head and in tears and I cried out, “Oh God, send workers to the Philippines to work with kids like this. So they can hug someone, not just grab onto a hand.” But pastor, that could have been your hand. I can see some of you putting your hand through those bars for that little boy to grab onto.

The God Who Answers in Orphanages

It’s a challenge to read how Charles Spurgeon began a ministry to orphans in London. Now here’s the greatest preacher in the world beginning an orphanage. Addressing his prayer meeting in the summer of 1886, Spurgeon said:

Dear friends, we are a large church and should be doing more for the Lord in this great city. I want us tonight to ask him to send us some new work.

He had 66 works, but he was asking for God to send some new work. And he said, “And if we need money to carry it on, let us pray that the means also may be sent.” Very soon afterwards, he and the church began this first orphanage. The orphanage was a lasting demonstration to the fact that Spurgeon’s faith was not mere theory, but that it produced good works. Thousands of needy children were loved and cared for over the years, and many were converted. To an agnostic who one day approached him and challenged his Christian beliefs, Spurgeon pointed out the failure of the unbelieving organizations to take on any definite, sustained program of help to the thousands of needy around them.

In contrast, Spurgeon pointed to the works that sprung from evangelical Christianity. He closed the conversation by paraphrasing the triumphant cry of Elijah, vigorously asserting as well he might, “The God who answereth by orphanages, let him be God.”

Pastors and friends there are close to 200,000 children who have lost their parents to mass slaughter in Rwanda. I can see some of you and your people starting small orphanages in Rwanda and the surrounding countries for 500 to 1,000 of these needy, parentless children. Spurgeon did it, why not you? George Müller did it, why not you? I can see some of you, yes, many of you, being used around the world, not only speaking out, but reaching out that boys and girls and men and women may hear the glorious gospel of the Savior.

But you may say, “Yes, but even though I’m in the ministry, you don’t understand. I’m still shy, or I’m timid, or I’m bashful, or I’m introverted, or I’m plain scared.” Well join the crowd. But in your feeling of inability and fear and timidity, simply in obedience to Christ, reach out with others in your church and with Christians around the world and take the hand of that prostitute in Manila, or that street boy in Bocata, or that lonely, rich businessman in Mexico City, and simply lead them to the cross. Many of us can do that.

Expanding Our Faith

Yes, we need to expand our field and expand our forces, and thirdly, we need to expand our faith. Let me summarize the last verses of our text from Matthew 10:5–8. These 12, Jesus sent out, instructing them to go preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He said, “Freely you received, now freely give” (Matthew 10:8). You have freely received life in Christ, now freely give that life which you have received in Christ. You receive salvation in Christ by faith. Now, in living by faith, we need to step out by faith and share that faith with the world.

Some of you have labored — and I emphasize that word labored — through the excellent detailed books of John Owen. It is always heart-stirring to read these Puritan theologians’ passion for the gospel. As chaplain to the British parliament, especially Cromwell, he pleaded with the government to do their utmost for the preaching of the gospel in Ireland. Though Ireland belonged to England, there was hesitancy in allowing missionaries to go there because it was Catholic. In his eloquent appeal, John Owen exclaimed:

I would that there were one gospel preacher for every town in Ireland. The tears and the cries of the inhabitants of Dublin after the manifestations of Christ are ever in my view. If their being gospel-less move not our hearts, it is hoped that their cries will disturb our rest.

Good News for the Unrighteous

George Whitfield was God’s anointed servant in the great revival in the 18th century. After returning to England from one of his many trips to the American colonies, he found himself in the city of Bristol, just north of London as he was traveling to Wales. Whitfield heard of the hundreds of minors in Kingswood, a coal mining district nearby. The minors were rough, uneducated, poor people who labored long hours in their grimy work with the women and children.

With a burden to preach the gospel to these needy people, one bitterly cold February night — not a nice, warm July afternoon, but a bitterly cold February day — Whitfield visited Kingswood with a companion. He was visiting from shack to shack. Now get this picture. Here’s this man in his fine clothes with another companion going from shack to shack to a group of people who had never been visited by a preacher before. He was going shack to shack, inviting people to attend.

He stood on a small mound and preached for his first time in the open air to the 200 people who had accepted his invitation to come to this meeting. Two days later, 2,000 listened to him preach. And two days later, 4,000 poor, ignorant, despised people gathered to hear the gospel of grace. In writing of this event, Whitfield wrote:

Having no righteousness of their own to renounce, they were glad to hear of a Jesus who was a friend of publicans and sinners, who came not to call their righteous but sinners to repentance. The first discovery of their being affected was to see the white gutters made by the tears, which plaintively fell down their filthy-dirty cheeks as they came out of their coal pits. Hundreds and hundreds of them were soon brought under deep convictions, which, as the event proved, happily ended in a sound and thorough conversion.

Pastor, as George Whitfield saw the needy miners who needed to hear the gospel, you also can lift up your eyes and see the needy, the poor, as well as the rich in your area and in other areas of the world, who wait for you, not me, and not the pastor down the street. They wait for you in the providence of God to take the gospel to them.

No Sacrifice Too Great

A newspaper correspondent in China years ago watched as the city was taken by insurgent communists. As the flames rose all around, he wrote:

Tonight, Shanghai is burning, And I am burning too. But there’s no death so real As the death inside of you.

Some men die by bullets, And some go down in flames; But most men die inch by inch, Simply playing little games.

We cannot play little games in seeking to reach the world with the gospel. Each pastor, each Christian, each local church must be serious in doing all that we can do and should do to reach others around us and beyond us with the gospel of Christ. Our motto ought to be the same as that of the CT Studd of Africa:

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.

But you may think, “If we do this, Doug, if we expand ourselves too thin, then our local work, our local church, our local ministry will suffer.” No, it doesn’t work that way. Freely you received, our text says, now freely give. Remember, the light that shines the farthest always shines the brightest close to home. That’s God’s economy. God blesses as you give.

Our Weakness Is No Barrier

Dr. William Ho was a medical doctor in South Seattle for years. During this time, he cared for the missionaries of our mission and other missions as well. He had a great love for world missions. He was a very shy man. We encouraged him even in his shyness to begin to personally declare the gospel to his many patients, and he began to do this.

In three months, Dr. Ho led 84 of his patients to Christ. He became excited about this, so much so that he sold his practice. He gave away his inheritance to his children, one of which graduated from the University of Washington at 13 years of age. And he gave his life to sharing the gospel. He is presently pastoring a Christian Reformed church in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, and he prays daily for the 1,400 people who have trusted Christ through his ministry in the last three years.

Friends, the world has unreached today because we have not allowed ourselves to launch out in faith and do what Christ has commanded us to do in spite of our fear, our shyness, our inabilities, our lack of resources, or our age, whether we’re young or old.

Getting on the Train

Let me close. One day in India, while I was serving with OM in the late 1960s, I received a telegram to come to Bombay right away. It was 400 miles and the only way to get there was by train. After packing my bag, I rushed to the train station and purchased the ticket. Now, the ticket attendant said that the next train to Bombay — the only way I could get there — was at 6:00 p.m. that evening. Since it was only 11 o’clock in the morning, I had a long wait, which I looked forward to.

I sat down to read. I got a nice sandwich and a cup of that delicious Indian tea, and I sat down to relax the whole day before getting on this train to Bombay. An old man came over and sat next to me and we began to talk. As we talked, we watched the train in front of us begin to fill up. If you’ve ever been to India, at that time there were 650 million people in India, and it seemed like all 650 million were trying to get on that one train. People literally fight to get on these trains. People were flying out the door and out windows and off the top, and it was better than watching Rambo one, two, and three all together.

We were laughing and talking. I had given him a gospel booklet and I’d bought him a cup of tea. I like old people. And he was telling me about the war between Pakistan and India and the partition, and we were watching just like that. Oh, look at that. People were flying out the window and this guy was hitting another guy with his cane. And it was very exciting to watch all this.

At about 11:30 a.m. this train began to move. And the man said to me, “Excuse me, but didn’t you say you’re going to Bombay?” And I said, “Well, yes.” He said, “Well, that’s your train.” I said, “Oh, no, no, it’s only 11:30 a.m. My train doesn’t leave till 6:00 p.m. this evening.” He said, “I don’t know who told you that, but I’ve been living in this town for 40 years and there’s only one train to Bombay every day, and that’s the 11:30 a.m. train. If you’re not on that train, you are not going until tomorrow.”

Well, it was an emergency and I had to get to Bombay that day. I checked my ticket and he was right. I said, “Thank you.” I grabbed my bag, and I headed for the train. There was no way I could get on this train. I ran to one of the doors and people were kicking at me and hitting me out with a cane. I ran to another door and all the windows were shut. I was becoming panicky. Finally, the private compartment car came by and one of the windows just happened to be open. And I thought, “Well, I have to get to Bombay.” So I threw my bag in. Now I am really committed.

I threw my bag in and the train was going a little faster and I was running a little faster now. And I’d seen the Superman movie too. Now, I’m not too quick upstairs, but I had to get through that window. The trains are much lower to the ground and I was up on the platform, and I ran parallel with the train until I couldn’t wait any longer. I angled out and I ran and I dove through this open window. As I went through the window, my back hit the top window and it shut on me. And there I was, stuck in this train halfway-in-halfway-out on the way to Bombay. You could write a song about that.

Indians are very dignified people and this rich family was sitting there. This man with his arms crossed was looking at me, and they began to have a discussion. They said, “Look at this, American. Doesn’t he know we have doors in India? Why does he come through the window? I wonder how long it will be until the telephone pole or something knocks him off. I wonder if he’s going to make it 400 miles to Bombay?” And finally, I caught the eye of this little girl, about nine or 10, their little daughter. And she walked over and she opened the window. I crawled in and eventually made it safely to Bombay.

Half-Committed to the Great Commission

Now pastors, that’s the situation many of us find ourselves in with regards to full commitment to God in regards to world evangelism; we’re halfway-in and halfway-out. And it’s really an uncomfortable place to be, isn’t it? You’ve gotten to where you hate to see missionaries come to your church. You despise that mission’s budget. You very piously talk about missions, but you’re just halfway in and halfway out. Your soul convicts you, your heart convicts you, and God convicts you.

That’s a very uncomfortable place to be. What about it, pastor? Isn’t it time that you began to expand your field of vision and lift up your eyes to the needs of the world? There’s more to life than your personal ministry, your local ministry. Pastor, there’s a world to reach with the gospel of grace, the gospel of Christ. Come on, get on the train. Get on God’s train, and get all the way in. Let’s move towards glory. But let’s not go by ourselves, let’s take a lot of people with us. For God is not willing that any should perish, that all should come to repentance.

Invest your life in God’s work here, yes, but also around the world. Get off of your hobby horse. Give up your self-centered lifestyle, even in the ministry. Let go of the hand that’s holding you back and get on the train. Take the hand of the masses of the world and lead them to the cross of Christ and get them on the train to glory — not for your glory, not for your church’s glory, not for your country’s glory, not for your denomination’s glory, but for God’s glory.

In the words of William Van Horne, “Let’s get on with it.” Pastor, there are 3 billion who have yet to know of salvation in Christ. Many of them will only hear if you go and tell them that Jesus is alive. So let’s get on with it. Let’s get on with it.