Terrie and I have had the privilege of ministering in Australia for several days. We are wrapping up our meetings today and tomorrow in Rock Hampton, Australia, with Pastor Robert Bakss. It has been a great privilege to participate in several services during which God’s hand has been very evident.
Sometimes when you’re away from home it is a little easier to gain perspective on some of the great things God is doing around the world. Following are some thoughts the Lord gave me in my devotional time this morning:
- The power of the Gospel—I am always amazed at the power of the Gospel! It has been a great privilege to see souls saved in the services here. One great testimony I have heard was from a Muslim lady who had received Christ in recent weeks. She said, “I have lived under a dark cloud of depression and despaired of life until I realized that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died for me.” I have not seen joy on the face of a Christian like I saw on the woman’s face in a long time. It is simply a blessing to see new Christians who are so thrilled with Christ and forgiveness. I also had the privilege of meeting a man named Anthony who I led to Christ when he was in Los Angeles on a business trip earlier this year. He has been watching our live stream services and listening to my podcasts and has truly been growing in the Lord. God is developing a great burden in his heart for worldwide missions.
- The privilege of serving—Having spent my high school years on the mission field of Korea, I have always had a burden to be a blessing to missionaries who serve overseas. At the conference last night I was able to talk to pastors and missionaries from Papua, New Guinea, Africa, the Philippines, and throughout Australia. As I preached and shared with them after the services, I was once again thankful for the privilege of being used of God in the ministry.
- The priority of missions—Whenever we visit a place where American missionaries have been instrumental in starting churches, I am always thankful for the way God has used our unaffiliated Baptist missionaries for many decades. The strength of the independent movement has been missionaries—unsung heroes—quietly, one at a time, being sent from local churches to the uttermost parts of the Earth. Any student of missions will acknowledge that, while there is a great need for more missionaries, there are thousands upon thousands of men and women preaching and teaching the Gospel because of the emphasis on missions in our local churches. Sunday I was able to be with Pastor Bill Zaydan in Sydney. Brother Zaydan is originally from Lebanon. It was there where he first met missionary Dick Hester. Brother Hester was forced out of Lebanon because of the civil war, but he came to Australia to find hundreds of thousands of Lebanese. He began teaching and preaching the Gospel in Arabic, and today, the Faith Baptist Church is pastored by a man he discipled—Pastor Bill Zaydan. (Read more on this story in The Baptist Voice.)For me to see hundreds of people—many of them originally from the Middle East—singing praise to Jesus showed me once again the power of the Gospel and what happens when we put a priority on missions.
- The pattern of discipleship—One thing with which I have been encouraged here in Australia has been to see Australian pastors bringing their men to the conferences and services. These pastors have a great desire to train the next generation according to 2 Timothy 2:2. The work of the Gospel ministry is the same all around the world. It is to teach others who shall be able to teach others also. In this day when many Christians spend the majority of their time casting opinions on the current events of the day, I think it is vital that we keep the pattern of soulwinning and discipleship right in the center of everything we do.
- The pursuit of health—The theme of the conference here in Rock Hampton is “Healthy Churches.” It is a blessing for me to see a national pastor, Brother Robert Bakss, with a heart for the health of the local church. We are preaching this morning on the subject of the priority of balancing family and ministry. We are teaching on the characteristics of a healthy New Testament church. I am thankful for an Australian leader who has a heart to help the churches here remain healthy and biblically balanced as we navigate the difficult waters of ministry in the twenty-first century.
Terrie has also enjoyed encouraging the pastors’ wives in their walks with the Lord.
We look forward to returning home in a few days, catching our breath, and doing much of the same work with the wonderful people at Lancaster Baptist Church. Thank you for your prayers.