I sat across the table from my Vietnamese friend, drinking coffee on a Friday afternoon and talking about hope. “Ryan” he said, “the people in Vietnam have no hope. I want to believe it can be better, but it is hard to believe sometimes.” I paused, prayed, and asked the Holy Spirit to guide whatever came out of my mouth next. “Do you think we should pray every day for a month that God would help Vietnam?” He considered the question and then said, “I will pray every day for a month. And if nothing happens after that, I will pray the next month, and the month after that.”
My friend, who is not yet in God’s Kingdom, is swiftly approaching. The values of that Kingdom are what his heart longs for, not only for himself, but also his country. The role of a laborer is to live out those values among the lost so they desire those values for themselves and their countries.
Even given that role, it is still a bit surprising, considering the hesitancy I used to have in interacting with people from the Middle East, that I would also find myself standing in a room, one of two people there not from Saudi Arabia, and the only person wearing the traditional Saudi dress (thob) and headdress (shemagh). My friends recently honored me by bringing me a thob and shemagh from Saudi Arabia after they went back to visit their families over the summer. I sat with my Saudi friends eating dates, drinking Arabic coffee, and talking about God.
Walking with God over the last few years has given me a desire to advance the Gospel into the nations, a desire that far exceeds any anxiety that I used to have at the thought of interacting with other cultures. I sat among these men with one of the guys I am discipling, Ben, and could tell that he was experiencing the same hesitancy that I use to have. Following Jesus’ life and pattern in ministry has taught me how a laborer is to advance the Gospel into the nations: by passing on that vision to the next generation by allowing them to see you do it and to learn its importance from you.
Tonight the men that I disciple will come over for a meal, Bible study, and prayer. Our primary purpose is to help each other become more suitable vessels for God to use to reach the nations, and to plead with Him to fulfill His promise to do exactly that, through our lives or others’. Laboring for this purpose is costly because it demands that we structure our lives around it. Yet, to not live for this vision is even more costly because the nations desperately need the hope of Jesus and His Kingdom. For this reason I will continue to labor to see that what was passed on to me by others will be passed on from me so that I can be a part of advancing the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nationsthrough spiritual generations of laborers by living and discipling among the lost.
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