You may be wondering what it is like to step out in faith and become a missionary. Yes, it is a step of faith, and often requires a lot of courage. You will be exchanging what you know and are familiar with for what you do not know and will surely find uncomfortable. This is a small price for the privilege of serving God and His people as a missionary who is blessed to go where God has called. Let me share with you my first experience as a full-time missionary. It will illustrate
clearly what I have just written.
It was 1996. We had traveled from our home in the United States, and had just arrived in Fiji. We had committed to Pastor Suli to be in Fiji for the next three years. We had visited twice before, but now we were to be embedded full-time into the Fijian culture. It would be very different from what we were used to. We would pastor the English language CMF International Church, which we would bring to the top floor of the Harbour Centre. This would also, in time, become the site of the CMF School of Urban Missions. We had great anticipation, but little understanding of this very special place, with its beautiful culture and wonderful people. It would be a very different way of living than we were used to.
Our first Sunday in Fiji, we were in services with Pastor Suli at the Christian Mission Fellowship church. At the time, the church met at the Phoenix, an old movie theater, which was in quite a state of disrepair. Long ago, it had been painted completely black on the inside. It looked like years had passed since any serious maintenance had been done. The day was typically hot and unbearably humid. The theater was filled to capacity and it had no air conditioning or ventilation.
The air was absolutely still. Nancy and I were used to nicely cooled, air-conditioned, American churches. It did not take long for me to become aware of how physically uncomfortable the next few hours were going to be. As a new missionary, I did not yet understand the joy awaiting me – the joy of being part of the Fijian church. I also had no real understanding of the meaning of sacrifice. I would later learn this from getting to know my awesome, gracious students. They were living epistles about what the true meaning of sacrifice for the Lord was. God would use them to write the joy of missions, and the significance of sacrifice on my heart.
My wife, Nancy and I were seated on the front row of the theater. We knew the whole service would be in Fijian and we would not understand most of what was going on. As the worship team began to sing, a very large speaker just in front of us was so close, it was sending forth a loud blast of sound that was far beyond my comfort zone. In spite this, and even though we could not understand a single word of Fijian yet, it became apparent there was an incredibly strong presence of God. It captured my heart. The pure, heartfelt worship of the congregation made a powerful impression on me.
After about an hour of praise and worship, the time came for the sermon. Pastor Suli had invited a guest speaker that day. He was an imposing-looking man who preached with great passion and anointing, but of course, spoke in Fijian. I had no idea what he was saying. I sat there, uncomfortably sweating, not used to the heat, and wondering how long it would be until I could get out and go somewhere cooler. I thought to myself, “Lord, I know you called me to be a missionary, but what am I doing here?” Quite unexpectedly, God answered me. As I sat there, resigned to the fact that I would simply have to endure the sermon without knowing what the preacher was saying, it happened. In the midst of a sentence, the preacher switched to English.
He said five words that struck me like a golden hammer. He said, “Just a little bit more.” Then he went back to speaking Fijian. About three or four minutes later, he again switched to English, “Just a little bit more.” He did this about a half dozen times during his sermon. They were the only words he spoke in English. To this day, I have no idea what the sermon was about, or why he switched to English. What I do know is that God had a life-changing message for me that day – “Just a little bit more.”
These five words became part of me. They began to define my relationship with God in a completely new way and in a very different level of understanding. They became the guiding principle for my strategies as a missionary teacher, mentor and pastor. To this day, I have never forgotten the power and anointing in those words, “just a little bit more.” Throughout the years, I have held them close to me. I continue to demand of myself that I become “just a little bit more” like Jesus every day, in every way. I have since taught this to my students around the world for years. “Just a little bit more” is planted in hearts everywhere I go.
Each day for three years at the School of Urban Missions, I wrote the word “INCREASE” at the top of the whiteboard. If you were to ask Talatala Emitai, Talatala Sakiusa, Talatala Peceli or so many others I loved and trained what they remember about those early days in the School of Urban Missions, I am sure one thing they would say is “INCREASE.” That is what God desires from every one of us, that we would increase in the things of God, to become “just a little bit more” like Jesus. “Increase” is the blessing a missionary is given when he or she surrenders to the call and says, “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
My prayer is that what I have shared will help you become “just a little bit more” like Jesus every day and in every way. You can act more, speak more, think more and love more like Jesus today than you did yesterday… and look forward to even more tomorrow! Do not hesitate to answer God’s call to your mission field. The world awaits you. There are people waiting on the other side of your obedience who will change and enrich your life beyond what you could ever imagine. Let your voice and your heart be filled with the words of the prophet. Do not miss the great privilege and opportunity to declare, “Here I am Lord, send me.”