23 Oct 2023
A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me’ 1 Cor 16:9
There are never open doors without opposition.
It is said that some of the best missionaries in the world are those who never went! They sensed God’s call, they felt the urge, they saw an open door, they were encouraged by church leaders… but there were obstacles, adversaries, discouragements and hesitation. The vision faded, and they stayed home. That is why so many blessings are missed, so many goals unattained, so many chapters unwritten, and so many Christians living with regret.
Paul, the renowned New Testament missionary, writes: ‘a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me’.
There is an opportunity in every difficulty and a difficulty in every opportunity.
We cannot re-live the past; that door has shut. There is little point in lamenting missed opportunities. We can, however, turn our attention to new possibilities and boldly step into richer fellowship with God and greater usefulness for Christ. Truth is, if we have eyes to see, there are open doors everywhere. It takes uncommon courage to walk through those that lead to hard places.
The call of Christ has remained unchanged for centuries. Why? Because the enduring need of lost people is precisely that they are lost. And reaching them requires followers of Jesus to set aside exaggerated concern for pleasure and ease and self-preservation in order to serve people yet to hear and understand the gospel. Easy to say, hard to do. Why? Because there are difficulties at every turn. Yet, faith-filled Pioneers members view setbacks as opportunities to make Christ known in some of the toughest places you can imagine.
And God Himself is leading those who go boldly to where few others serve.
Pastor John Piper writes: “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ”.
In Ephesus Paul encountered all kinds of opposition but these did not deter him. He was not panicked by adversaries from the Temple of Diana (sexual temptation); rulers in Jewish synagogues; Roman authorities; nor the occult. He saw opportunity in every difficulty. And a church was born.
As I type these words, I am thinking of our Aussies serving in some 40 countries, and I can’t think of one perfect Christian among them. (I hope they won’t be offended!) What does come to mind are wonderful friends who have a message worth sharing whatever the cost. Some of their accounts are in the following pages. You too may be inspired to boldly go.
Simon Longden | Pioneers Australia National Director
Is God calling you to join the mission field? Get in touch.