Nobody likes to think that they can’t finish a job they started. As missionaries write about trying to get the job of reaching the unreached in their generation done it becomes obvious that there’s this sort of contradiction. Their life stories make it hard to comprehend the job getting done.
Michael Fournier in Africa refers to his new job assignment as a roller coaster and speeding down the tracks. Have you ever been on a roller coaster or fast train and accomplished anything besides hanging on for dear life so as not to fall and get hurt?
Lindsey Burrows writes all about her desire to be a part of this job and the bazillions of things that she needs to accomplish to finally arrive at her place of service but sends along a picture that says, “Waiting … waiting … waiting ...”
As he is translating the Bible into the language of the Guarijio, Terry Reed refers to his last translation check as a marathon. And if they are busy running a marathon aren’t they just concentrating more on staying hydrated, breathing well, and getting to the end?
How does God expect to get this job of reaching the unreached done through people who are trying to hold on, get to the end, while they are waiting?
Michael even refers to himself as a baby that is so dependent only being able scream in order to be fed and changed. What in the world do baby-like people have that they can contribute to this job that needs to get done? Then he refers to himself as a fool.
Wow, baby-like fools on roller coasters hanging on for dear life… waiting?
While Terry is translating, back translating, checking translations, and projecting future translation, they are also working/waiting on paperwork, teaching translation principals to students in training, trying to format the translation to be put on e-sword for a resource, planning to attend a translation workshop, getting prepared for an annual field conference, visiting supporters and family, getting their children to camp and getting back out to their home with the Guarijios.
All of this requires careful planning of travel by vehicle, bus and plane. Purchasing tickets and fuel, making sure maintenance is done, planning finances and meals, as well as where they will sleep the next night. Curriculum planning has to be done to teach, technical study has to be done to format, and what about preparing their children for a camp outside of the country?
It sounds like they are involved in short sprints in the midst of their marathon.
The game the Guarijios and their cousins the Tarahumaras used to play was like short sprints that added up to a marathon. They would run back and forth, a mile from goal to goal with a heavy oak ball balanced on the top of their feet. The larger-than-croquet sized ball was passed from person to person using no hands. At the finish of this game they would have run about 32 kilometres.
The longer distance marathons they are famous for are run through the hills, carrying a torch to see the trails at night. After five to ten loops of 19 kilometres each, they would put in their normal eight-hour work day. We can understand why many are coming to learn from these endurance runners.
These amazing runners and missionaries can teach us about endurance in our own “race” to run. What are we doing to get the job of reaching the unreached in our generation done? What short sprints are we busy with as we work toward that marathon finish?
Ned and Linn Beal report from Papua New Guinea about how their part is being accomplished. They had a long, grueling time of checking 2,600 verses in two weeks. This involves every verse being read to the national speakers in their own tribal language so that they can tell back the complete portion in the trade language. Ned can ask questions to be sure it’s clear. This is the last step in the process before print. What a great finish to an exhausting job.
From God’s Word it’s clear that He did choose to use weak and foolish babes to run this race of life that’s clearly marked out with clear purpose. He even says to fight all the way with a focus that allows the redeeming of the time given to work toward a clear finish. We are encouraged to wait on the Lord with the assurance that He will renew our strength to finish well the jobs He gives us to do.
He never promises how long till the literal end but He does promise His presence all the way through. So let’s hold on while we wait, run well, fighting all the way as He uses the foolish to reach the unreached in our generation!