Equip Us is right in the middle of Acts 16:9. Do you see it? No? Well, read the chapter and see what Paul did in response to that request for help. He equipped believers and the churches. So how do we apply ourselves to a request to Equip Us? What examples do we follow? And why is it important?
Equip Us: What We Have
I’ve mentioned Moses before. But he still stands as a great example to us. He encountered God in the burning bush (see Exodus 3:1-17 ). Moses met God with his staff in his hand. He left that meeting holding the rod of God. Many miraculous things were done with the rod of God (parting the Red Sea, water from a rock, etc.). And Moses was still holding it when he died about 40 years later. What made the difference in a shepherd’s stick and the mighty rod of God?
First, note that Moses already had the stick in his hand. God didn’t give him something new when He called Moses to lead God’s people. Second, Moses obediently submitted what he had (that stick) to the will and purposes of God. How? Read it. God told Moses to throw the staff down. It was all Moses had and he let go of it. When Moses picked it up again it was the same familiar stick – but it was also the embodiment of God’s might and power. Our lives seldom differ from that pattern. God only asks for what we have. He then uses what we give Him. And that happened last week!
I’ve also written posts about a women’s quilting ministry in Scottsboro. One of their leaders was part of last week’s mission team. Like Moses, they have given what they have to the Lord’s use. They have a skill. And many would doubt (defy?) the idea of using their skills for equipping, ministry, evangelism, or Kingdom multiplication. That’s a mistake! And I’ll show you why.
Equip Us: Defying Doubters
Our enemy tempts us to doubt. He says nothing can come of something as insignificant as you and what you have. A song lyric expresses the prevailing truth: Little is much when God is in it. And I offer you three quick, familiar references that underscore that thought:
- Micah 5:2 – Bethlehem was small, but the Savior was there!
- Judges 7:1-7 – A small army but a mighty victory.
And then there is Matthew 14:7. There we see an insignificant, unnamed boy with fives loaves and two fish. Our Father does multiply what we give Him and He uses it in the most unexpected ways! Those disciples had not made an Equip Us request, but they were equipped that day in ways they didn’t fully realize. And that’s how it was last week in Samana. We don’t yet know the effect and reach of what was done. But experience gives us a way to make some general predictions!
Equip Us: Multiply
The strategic reason to equip pastors and churches in Samana is the cruise industry. Thousands of people from all over the world come to this little place at the beginning of the year. Their purpose is whale watching. How is that important?
I’ll never forget the first class we had in Samana. The subject was Jesus’ command to make disciples. I asked the pastors how they were being obedient to that command. Many comments followed about their local ministries. It was all good. I commended them for their labors. Then, I asked them what they were doing to take the Gospel to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Several replied with comments like:
We can’t do that because we are too poor to go anywhere else.
Did I mention doubting and believing the enemy’s lies? If you know me well, then my reply to them will not surprise you:
So, you’re exempt from this command because you’re poor?
Silence followed. But God was in that discussion. How? The night before, a cruise ship had come into Samana Bay. We could look out the window and see it sitting there in the bay. There were hundreds of tourists on the streets, in local shops, and on the boats used for whale watching. Every pastor present had probably passed multiple tourists to get to class! Then I pointed to the ship and asked another question:
Do you realize that God knows you are poor and He has brought the world to you?
To use a phrase, the lights came on! It was something like the famous TV commercial: Wow! I could have had a V-8! Wrap all that up together and you get an idea of the moment. They understood their opportunity and why equipping was necessary.
Equip Us: Full Circle
Last week’s mission team was another effort to equip churches for outreach. Teaching ladies to quilt was just one way our team was faithful to equip. But any skill or tool needs to be properly applied in order to be effective for the Kingdom.
The quilters in Scottsboro make quilts for outreach and ministry. So the application of that skill was also taught. Quilts were taken to the local hospital. They were given, in Jesus’ name, to children, to moms of newborns, and other patients. But that’s not the only way to use them.
That skill will be used to make many more quilts. And those quilts will find their way into the hands of tourists. What do tourists look for? They want something local and something unique, if possible. Handmade quilts meet those requirements. But quilts for tourists will also come with a message of God’s love for them.
You see, God really can use what we are willing to give Him. We can’t know all the ways He will use the equipping work we did in Samana last week. But it’s safe to say He will use it. As we continue to minister and equip in this place we will probably learn of ways God used our efforts. And there will be a day when we get to see all the ways our Father used our gifts to Him. I’m looking forward to that! How about you?