Missionaries are very often discouraged on the mission field. Unfriendly governments sometimes put obstacles in their way. Some people are unresponsive, and often the behavior of people thought to be converts to Christ is disheartening. The forces of evil seem too great to conquer. That is true as the children of Israel contemplated their move into Canaan. As the Hebrew spies completed their survey of the Promised Land, they submitted two reports. The majority report said that although Canaan was a wonderful land flowing with milk and honey, the people there were like giants, making the spies feel like grasshoppers (Num. 13:33).
A minority report came from Joshua and Calab. Their conclusion about Canaan was in the words of Caleb: “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). Joshua and Caleb pleaded, “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the Land” (14:8-9). The people heeded the timid appraisal of the majority. They believed that entering the Promised Land would be impossible. They were ready to elect a leader to lead them back to Egypt. The essential difference in the two reports was that the majority left God out. The minority report recognized the challenges, but Joshua and Caleb counted on the power of the Lord.
That is the key to succeeding in God’s work. We may make our surveys and tremble. Before we abandon a project, however, we should ask ourselves, “Have we counted on the power of God to overcome what seems to be an insurmountable obstacle? Taking the gospel to unreached peoples may seem an impossible task. North American missionaries find it hard to adapt to primitive conditions. Sometimes the people speak languages that have not yet been analyzed and reduced to writing. Many inhabitants of unreached lands appear content in their present lifestyles. They seem to have no spiritual hunger. However, a seemingly impossible challenge becomes possible when we place God in the equation. Jesus has given us the Great Commission. He has promised to help us.
God has taken hundreds of ordinary people and enable them to do important missionary work. Christians who live in North America can encourage missionaries who sometimes feel overwhelmed by problems. We can remind them that we pray for them and that God has promised to meet their needs. God gave the Great Commission, and He is present with every person He has called to serve Him. Your letter or e-mail message might arrive at a time of crisis.
A missionary couple in Ghana wrote, Gloom is all around us, ant it is only natural that at times we are overcome by the relentless stream of bad news. However, it is wonderful to stir the coals and discover that the fire still burns. When you pray for missions and when you give, you are stirring your faith in God’s victory. Thank you for being good stirrers.” Whatever challenges we face, let us keep the promise before us: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).