Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)
There is a classic story of two shoe representatives from a company who were sent to a remote region of the world to see if there could be any potential for sales there. The first called back and left a voice mail saying, “Coming home soon, there is no interest in our shoes here.” The second representative wired, “Send a boatload of shoes, for the possibilities are great with the people here. The same could be said of two different Christians, one with no vision at all and the other with nothing but a vision.
There is a song about vision among the old hymns titled Be Thou My Vision. It was an old Irish hymn my wife and I love to hear when sung in church. There are particular phrases in that song that mean a lot to us, especially as we think of our son and his family’s ministry in a faraway country.
Be Thou My vision, oh Lord of my heart,
Be Thou my wisdom,
Be Thou my best thoughts, by day and night,
Be thou my victory.
And riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise for Thou art mine inheritance, now and always.
Of course, these words and lyrics may mean more to our son and his family who live on the front line as missionaries. Residing in a small rural community where the villagers are very appreciative, the language is challenging to learn, and the conveniences of America are difficult to come by.
Mission work is tough, and it takes many God-given visions to handle the waiting, patience, and defeats that often accompany a ministry in a foreign country. And in some cases, sad to say, significant pain and even death may result in a missionary’s effort, as was the case with those who lost their lives trying to reach the Auca Indians in Ecuador several years ago. Five of the key men in this mission were murdered by the very tribe they were trying to reach for the Gospel. The wives of these men were devastated and counseled to leave the field. As some said, “This tribe will never be reached, so let them go.” But Elizabeth Elliot, one of the wives, and some others went right back into the fray just because of God’s vision. In the end, the tide turned, and the Auca Indians came to know Christ as their Lord.
The next time you hear the song, Be Thou My Vision in church or on a Christian radio station, think of the missionaries who daily work hard to bring about the Gospel. Be a supportive chorus to them in any way possible. And please don’t try and convince them to come home when times get tough, but instead increase your prayers, support, and encouragement for these families. Perhaps this is the vision God has for you for them.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. And wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Jim Elliot
Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
1Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Roman 12:12-13 12 Rejoice in hope, persevere in tribulation, devote yourself to prayer, 13 and contribute to the needs of the saints.
Matthew 24:14 This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.