I used to go to a budding Christian church with Edwin, Willie, Eric, Gerry, Audie, and Nandy. We were young and eagerly training to serve the Lord through various church ministries. There were only about less than a hundred of us believers in that church.
Edwin, although busy with other concerns in the church as a young deacon, was actively training me to lead a Wednesday bible study in one of the city’s slum area. Willie was leading a cell group in another depressed area. Eric, skilled in playing the drums was in the music ministry with Gerry. Gerry played the piano . Both were leaders in the Sunday worship service. Audie was in another cell group within his neighborhood.
With the vision to send out workers for Christ, our church started a bible school where we sat in, along with other youngsters and few adults, one evening a week to prepare us for the exciting and yet challenging works ahead. Each of us had our own jobs that we went to during the day, but we met in the church for various faith related works in the evening. We attended our bible school classes on Thursday evenings. We went to our respective bible study groups on Friday evenings. Our bible school teachers were dedicated foreign missionaries who have gone to various parts of the world planting Christian churches and discipling future leaders for Christ. Like all the other students, I had that fire burning in me, eager to serve in the army of God when called. I felt a great amount of enthusiasm to “Go” when the call comes. But I got separated from these students after I decided to accept a better job offer. Better means much higher pay with better benefits, and perks not so many at my young age back then would be offered to receive. However, I would be required to relocate to a place far from our church. That move got me lured into false ambitions. As a result, I lost the fire to prepare for the call to serve God. I drifted farther away from our church and never got in touch with my Christian friends again for 20 years.
A couple of days ago, I found Amy through Facebook and got in touch with her by email. Amy was one of the students of the bible school. She got married to Gerry after I left the church. Amy told me the whereabouts of our former classmates. What I learned about everyone held my awe. All have gone to be full time workers for the Lord.
Gerry was ordained and later became the senior pastor of our church. But Gerry was called home to the Lord shortly after. He died of heart failure. Amy’s story about Gerry touched me so much. She said Gerry served the Lord faithfully with no reservation or regret in spite of his illness. He spent the rest of his shortened life working in the ministry. Edwin, the young deacon back then, is now the senior pastor of the church after Gerry died. Edwin also occasionally goes abroad on Christian missions, helping newly established churches. Willie, Audie, and Eric were sent to neighboring towns and became pastors of other churches. Nandy was sent abroad to pastor another church. All of these other churches branched out from our church.
After learning all these from Amy, it did not take long enough for my awe to be replaced with grief. I felt sorry for myself soon after. I grieved when I realized that twenty years ago I made the wrong decision to pursue this world rather take hold of the rare opportunity to be trained and eventually serve the Lord full time. I cried and groaned at the realization of having wasted the privilege to be commissioned in the service for Christ. I preferred to work for the temporary things of this world rather than serve Christ and win souls for His kingdom, an eternal gain. I focused on this life that will pass away and not looked further into what is to come which will stand forever. I preferred to secure my future in my own way rather than trusting Christ that I will be abundantly provided just like how He provided for the faithful like Gerry, Edwin, Willie, Eric, and the other tens of thousands out there with their families who bravely responded to the calling without regard of their needs for daily living. I can only look back now and wish I stayed rather than walk away.
Over the years I labored much for what I thought I could own, only to find out that up to this point I still don‘t own anything. I worked hard to gain material things, admiration, and respect. It is true some people say to me sometimes, “You did well compared to us.”. But such occasional complements come and go. Worse, they only elevate me to a foot stool of self-pride that drives me to strive more but fall short from the presence of God. In God’s eyes I am still nobody. Now it is clear to me. Gerry, Edwin, Willie, Audie, along with the rest of their families who have been quietly working to proclaim the Good News of salvation are somebody in the eyes of God.
Though I drifted away from my close Christian friends, God still directed me to bible based churches in the places I went to. Through those churches, I have continually sensed God’s faint offer. There were times that I heard God loudly saying through preachers and missionaries, “Whom shall I send?”. But I always muted His call by never responding, “Here I am Lord.”. Instead, I always said, “ I have more time.”. For twenty years I almost never missed attending the Sunday service. I also do my morning devotional daily with great passion for God’s guidance through His written word. But I only kept and enjoyed God’s abundant provisions to myself. I never made the effort to share Jesus to a soul, even just to the one next door. I also chose to be a fool while lying to myself into believing that I’m doing a ministry whenever I drop a few dollars in the offering bag every time its passed on to me. No amount of encouragement, challenge, or insult from anybody in the service of God could move me to go and serve the Lord, not even from Frank Drown who came to my church one Sunday morning and narrated his missionary experience.
Frank Drown and his wife Marie worked and lived for 37 years with the Jivaro Indians of eastern Ecuador. They worked in the same jungle where Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and three other Christian men whose deaths in the hands of another group of Indians in January 1956 were retold in the movie End of the Spear. Frank led the search party to find these men‘s bodies. He later performed their burial ceremony. Frank said that it takes a day to travel by bus to where you start to walk for another five days through the jungle to reach the Jivaro Indians.
After listening to Frank narrate for an hour his missionary stories, he later said to us, “You wouldn’t go in the jungle where I lived for 37 years. You don’t have the courage to leave your convenient life and live with the people like the Jivaros. You will not survive there. You can’t imagine yourself walking five days in the jungle so you can reach people who need to know Jesus. You are used to driving your expensive and flashy cars to your work so you can earn more money and show off to the world. But listen to this. If you work hard for money and follow where money leads you, then who is your god?”. I bowed my head as I felt humbled by Frank’s anointed insult that Sunday. But I held my head up again once I went out through church door. Frank was right. It did not take long. All that he said was not on my mind at all afterward because like most people who work hard to earn money, I started following another god again the next day.
But lately, I have been feeling something. Like Peter coming back to his senses after denying Jesus three times, I now feel a remorse. It looks like God is never giving up on me after all. He had to lead me back to Amy so I can hear about Gerry, Edwin, Willie, Eric, Audie, and the rest whom He has given the privilege to serve Him. Like them, He also wants me to be somebody. I must also serve Him. Now, I have to respond, and respond I will. He is calling me once again. I can hear Him saying, “Go.“ Maybe I can start by looking out through my computer screen and tell the whole world about Jesus. But wait! Let me also call my church and see if they need someone to clean the toilet today.