Preaching and teaching are key elements for the missionary. These are two primary methods the Lord uses for proclaiming His truth. The preaching and teaching lead to converts and enable believers to grow in the Lord.
Many groups use different methods of producing “converts.” Examples of other methods of producing converts would be using money, making promises, building schools, using different forms of entertainment. Of course these different methods are not simply found here in PNG, but are also in America and throughout the world. One reason why there are so many lost people in churches today is because of what was used for the “conversion”. If it was not the gospel being preached, along with the Holy Spirit working on the heart, there was no true conversion to the Lord.
One thing I have to guard against, on the field, is producing my “own” converts. I desire for people to convert to the Lord, or become born again by a spiritual birth worked by the Holy Spirit. However, being a white American in a third world country such as PNG presents some difficulties. For one, because of who I am, many look at me with a certain amount of admiration. As if I am better then they are because I am a white American. Of course this simply is not true. Yes, I come from a different culture altogether. My life in America was nothing like village life here in PNG. I had many more “luxuries” than what the villagers have here. I had a better education, and the opportunity to make a better living.
However, these things do not make one a better person. I am still a man just as the men are here. I have the same temptations (I Cor 10:13). I have the same sin nature (Romans 5:12). I have the same trials. People go to hell just as easily in America as they do from PNG. The greatest need they have here is not better schools, better health care facilities, better government, better homes, and more jobs. The greatest need here is the same greatest need found in America and the rest of the world. That need is Jesus Christ.
Now back to the point of this blog, preaching on the mission field. As I mentioned earlier, because of who I am there is a certain amount of admiration. It is easy to get people to follow me based on who I am. This is where the danger lies. I can get almost anyone to pray a prayer, simply because I, as the white American, asked him to bow his head and pray. Very few here would refuse to do what I asked them, because of the high regard they have for me.
If I wanted to walk into a village with 500, preach a message, tell them to bow their heads and “pray to receive Jesus” all would follow. I could then write back to my supporting churches of the hundreds saved in the meeting. However, the reason for them praying would not be the Holy Spirit, but me. I can not save them, and a vain prayer saves no one!
The solution to this problem is found in the humility of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was not looking for a name or converts to himself, but to the Lord. He pointed men to Jesus not himself. As he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The humble attitude along with the power of the Lord is the answer. However, if I began to be driven by ambition instead of the Lord, I would make a mess of things. I might have 300 on Sunday in each work instead of 60, but there would still only be 60 of the Lord’s converts present.
Oh, how we all need the wisdom and power of the Lord in our lives and service to Him!