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From being interested to commitment

There once were two young people living in different parts of the US who, after reading the same book, Through Gates of Splendor, about a team of missionaries who gave their lives to reach a wild tribe of Indians in Ecuador, both made a vow to marry only someone willing to reach a difficult people like the Aucas (Waodonis) or the Quechuas.  This is the account of how those two met and how God bonded them together for a wonderful and exciting life that would lead them to many strange places and give them experiences they never dreamed of. This is the real life account of Don and Janice Fanning.

Because my family did not support my desire for the ministry training, especially if it meant giving up a golf scholarship, much less the idea of going overseas as a missionary, I had to work several jobs to get through college.  One of those jobs was to waiting tables in a large Dinning Hall at our University.  It was nearing the Christmas break when the Dinning Hall management held a party with special music for all the waiters.  The trio that sang included one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen.

This was worth investigating!  I found out her name and that she was interested in being a missionary through one of the other girls in the trio, who also served tables in the Dinning Hall.  I had determined not even to begin a relationship with a girl if God was not leading her to serve Him on a foreign field.  God had to be working in her life to give all that she was for the Lord or I would just keep looking.

On our campus every evening at 6:30 PM those who were interested in missions met for twenty minutes to pray for missionaries, unreached tribes and people groups.  About 20 rooms in the academic building were divided according to country, half for the guys and half for the girls.  As we entered the room we were given a 3×5 card with a specific prayer request from that region.  Did this beautiful girl attend Mission Prayer Band?  What a delight I felt when I discovered that she was a leader in the girls’ Missions Prayer Band!

I decided to risk it and ask her out for a date.  What a surprise to find that we had both read the same book about missions and had come to Bible school looking for a mate that shared the same vision of reaching a lost tribe for Christ!  We were open and interested in serving as missionaries, but still did not know for certain if this was what God wanted.

Typically the interest in missions follows a four step process: (1) Disinterested or unexposed to the Biblical mandate for everyone to reach the world for Christ, (2) Challenged to investigate the possibility being a part of God’s global purpose and willing to be exposed to Biblical and world realities, (3) Interested and willing to do whatever the Lord wants no matter what or where.  Then finally, (4) committed to making every effort to go to an unreached people and spend a lifetime learning how to be effective in planting the gospel and His Word in another culture.

My fiancée and I had reached the third level in this progression and were waiting for something to clarify to us what we should do next.  We were willing to go anywhere, and seriously investigating the needs around the world.  We were waiting on “some additional indication” from God to know what to do next.  I had no idea what we were waiting for, but it just seemed like God had to do something else to make it clear that He “really” wanted us to go to an unreached people.

I shared this dilemma with a friend of mine, Ken Newton, who was the most godly student I knew and was totally committed to going to a tribe in South America.  He looked at me with a serious stare and said, “Why are you fooling around?  Go and find your fiancée, and discuss with her the Lord’s question to Isaiah (6:8), ‘Who will go for us?’  After assuring that the two of you are agreed, then pray together saying to the Lord the same thing Isaiah prayed, “Lord, here am I [Here we are]. Send me [us]!”

It takes more than being willing to go.  At some point we had to cross the line of quasi-commitment (level 3) to total, unconditional commitment to the cause of world evangelism, no matter what the cost.  From then on the question in our minds was not whether or not He wanted us to go, but where and how He would send us. That was the beginning of an amazing life-adventure we would not have changed for anything.

As a great missionary once said, “Find out where Christ has never been named and take Him there.”  There is little or no mystery to it.  Just ask God to send you … if you dare, then begin searching for a place to carry the greatest story [truth] every told to man: how Jesus’ death can cleanse sinners of every sin and give them eternal life with Him.

Are you disinterested, curious, willing or committed?

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