December 5, 2009
Last Sunday, a missionary came to speak at church. I am usually very interested to hear what is going on in the lives of these devoted people, and I was particularly engrossed in the story of how chaplains are being trained for the South Sudanese Army. (Google Far Reaching Ministries if you’re interested in learning more about this.)
It got me thinking.
This week, while conversing with a friend about the heart of a missionary, I busied myself with the dishes. I do believe I complained about doing those dishes, and a few other things. I made note of the seemingly lacking characteristics I’d need to be a missionary myself. While going about my business, I happened to glance over at the fridge and noticed the family photo of the only missionary I have ever known personally.
Would you allow me to share the story and the heart of a man set on serving the Lord?
My story starts about 15 years ago. I was in 8th grade and ready to quit band. My mother MADE me stick it out until the end of freshman year. Everything changes once you get to high school. Isn’t that true…
Freshman year of band. Bruce McFarland. It was a great year. Mr. McFarland was our director; a dedicated musician and teacher, and unbeknownst to me, a Christian. I can see it in hind sight. He encouraged me to be the best that I could be – not just in music, but in all of life. He taught us to give it our all, and live for something. I never heard Christ mentioned, but Mr. McFarland was living what he believed.
The following year, after a disappointing turn of events with Mr. McFarland leaving the high school band program, I became a Christian, and I learned through the friends who brought me to church that MC (as we had lovingly called him) was a Christian too.
Over the course of a few years, MC and his wife, Paula, decided to return to missions. They had previously been missionaries in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and had been called to go back. Wycliffe Bible Translators
was is still working on translating the Bible into the languages of PNG. MC had the opportunity to go back and serve in this country as a music teacher in a school for the children of missionaries. He and his wife have also served the people of PNG in other ways too.
Bruce McFarland is a man of courage, integrity, and love. He is hardworking, generous, not concerned with material things. He has been kind, positive, and humble. He loves Jesus and wants to see His Word reach all peoples. He is fulfilling the command of Acts 1:8. Bruce and Paula are self-less – they had always been giving of themselves, willing to give it all up for the sake of the cross; their house, their cars, everything to go halfway around the world to a people desperate for Jesus.
Now, PNG isn’t necessarily a war zone. But it isn’t a walk in the park either. There are dangers and life has taken its toll on the McFarlands. Bruce was diagnosed with MS and has not forsaken the call. They have been apart from some of their children for a time now as the older kids have returned to the United States for college. The wide expanse that separates family can be a difficult one to deal with.
I admire my 9th grade band teacher. I think he has done wonderful things, but I know that he has only accomplished the work because he has committed himself to Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus that any of us can accomplish anything for the Father. We are nothing on our own, and we have to recognize that and humble ourselves. We have to check our hearts, our minds, and hold them to the standard that has been set.
In a way, we are all missionaries. Just because we haven’t gone overseas doesn’t mean we should disregard the expectations. God has called each and every one of his people to share the message. I asked myself if I could do this. Could I leave everything if God asked me? And more importantly – is my heart set like that of a devoted missionary? What about you? Do you have a missionary’s heart? Join me in considering these questions as we work towards a greater devotion to Christ.
Are you submitted to Him?
Have you humbled yourself?
Is your heart set on glorifying God and not yourself?
Do you serve with a generous heart?
Are you willing to give up all?
Have you thought about the needs of others before yourself?
Do you love unselfishly?
Are you armed with the Word of God for the battles that lay before you?