Life and liberty can be found in one’s calling. And that reality was driven home to me last week in our mission to Samana. But it has meaning for every facet of life – not just a week away with a great team of awesome mission volunteers. Let me invite you to share in my revelation. This is a mission report, but not like you might expect! (I know that surprises you.)
Liberty For Captives – A History
I was in my late teens when God spoke His Word to me. Sometimes people read or hear statements like that and wonder how that works. One thing that comes to mind is the song by MercyMe, Word of God Speak. Have you ever been reading your Bible and some portion of it just seemed to come alive to you? Your perception of it was unlike it had previously been. In those moments the Word seems to penetrate us. That is one way God speaks to us.
That moment in my teens was my calling from God to minister for Him. The passage was Isaiah 61:1-2. Some of those words are on the cover image I designed for this post. But here is what Isaiah wrote:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the the Lord…
I’ve not been as faithful to His calling as I’d like. There have been failures and growing. But that sense of calling has never left and on the few occasions I speak about, it is still an emotional event after all this time. And in way I never expected it all came flooding back to me last week.
Liberty: Message And Mission
The schedule was not ‘normal’ last week. We taught the Pastor Training School in the evenings. Our subject was Biblical Leadership. From the outset, we covered the essential fact that Kingdom Leadership is a matter of calling. God chooses His leaders. He doesn’t ask our permission or advice. And He often chooses the people we would least expect. King David is one good example. So this thread of thought was woven into the week. Now, about the daytime.
Part of our group did construction work. Alex and Holden taught the English classes and then worked with the construction crew. The remainder of the group did medical work. Each day we ministered to the health needs of people in different communities. As that was going on, it was my joy to meet people and speak to them about the Gospel.
Any medical clinic provides a great setting for talking with people. Why? The Gospel is being demonstrated (caring for the least of these…) while it is also being declared. Demonstration and declaration go hand in hand. And I opened nearly every conversation by telling people why we do the clinics.
I didn’t quote all the verses (Matthew 25:40-45), but I told people Jesus said when we minister to others it’s the same as ministering to Him. That provides a simple, immediate connection to the Gospel and it opens the door for a deeper discussion. And that discussion is about liberty!
Liberty: For Two Groups
I spent the daytime hours speaking with people. And they come in two varieties: Those who know Jesus and those who don’t. But remember, God’s mission is people – all of them. We shared the Gospel with those who did not know Jesus. Several responded positively. Captives were set free! But many left our conversations in the chains they came with. But the Truth was declared and the Seed was sown.
For the believers we met, the mission of liberty was still in play. It just had (and has!) a slightly different focus. I cannot remember how many people we spoke with who confessed they were believers but they we discouraged in their faith. They were burdened and weighed down by misconceptions and legalistic thinking.
The enemy has a variety of methods to devour Christian faith and liberty. It doesn’t matter to him which lie a disciple believes. Satan just wants to keep people from believing and acting on the Truth. Every lie, any lie, is a link in his chain of captivity. Lies keep Kingdom Citizens from effectiveness and joy. And we got to have great conversations with believers and see those chains fall! That is one of my great joys in life. But don’t think that lies that hold believers back is unique to the Dominican Republic!
Liberty: Seeing Through The Prison Bars
All this is fairly easy to write. It’s part and parcel of who I am, what I do, and how I see things. But that revelation I mentioned came in the context of all the things above.
In one of our classes, I shared the circumstances of my own calling to the serve the Lord. Even as I was doing that, my thoughts were going back over the week to the people we had seen set free. And a connection began to form.
Those who know me well can attest that I see my preaching and teaching work in terms of setting people free. I’ve said that many, many times. When I speak with people or help them through a problem my mental image is that of freeing them from unnecessary, hindering weights (Hebrews 12:1).
I can’t remember a time I didn’t perceive my work in those terms. Hopefully, with a great deal of education, practice, and experience I have gotten better at it. But that is my own perception of the ministry I get to do. It’s at the heart of Equipping For Life, E-quip.Us, and training pastors to equip (free) others.
Now, about that connection… In all these years I never wondered about why I see ministry in this way. It’s just the ‘norm’ for me. As I was recounting my own calling it hit me: Was this view part of that calling? Or, did God use that part of His Word to call me because He knew how He made me and that I would identify with Isaiah’s words?
Why would any of that matter? Well, another point we made often is that God equips those He calls. His calling carries with it everything we need. So, His calling to me to proclaim liberty to all came with a necessary point of view, an outlook if you will.
The big question is this: What has God called you to do? He isn’t lazy, silent, or idle. He has called. Know that His calling equips. You can do what He has called you to do! Whatever stands in the way acting on that is a lie – and you know where it came from!
Soli Deo Gloria!
This is a member-supported ministry. Holden is just one piece of a bigger picture. I like to think of our members as Helping Hands. More hands are need to help and YOU can join in. Check that out HERE – Thanks much!