Years ago, while I served as a student missionary in Ecuador, I had a summer missionary in our ministry participate in an interview with Rachel Saint. She, along with others, had returned to the Auca tribe after their family members had been martyred in the 1950s. She was celebrating with us how God, through all their work, had brought many to Christ and established many churches. In the middle of the dialogue one student asked a slightly embarrassing question to the elderly Ms. Saint saying, “Did you ever think about getting married?” I was trying to think about how to cover it up and change the subject when she graciously shared that there was a man she had her eyes on once, but it never took. She then shared that God had given her the true desires of her heart in seeing churches planted among the Auca.
She quoted: “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps. 37:4
The desires of her heart came out of her delight in the Lord and sacrificial obedience to his commands in her life. She had given her life and invested it for the sake of the gospel among those who once lived in darkness.
A few years later as my family and I relocated to North Africa I was reminded of this passage and its clear direction for laborers in the harvest. Psalms 37:3 says in the NASB; “Trust in the Lord and do good;
live in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” The Lord reminded me of the actions of obedience he would call me to, as I began to serve in a new world.
First, trust in the Lord and in no other. The only way to see the power of the gospel alive and well is to fully depend on it and to share it with great conviction.
Next, doing good is a help directive as you many times do not see the connections. Doing good involves being faithful in your walk with God, in loving your family and seeking to serve the lost and needy around you. You do it not because of their gratitude or recognition but because it is “good” before the Lord.
The Psalmist then says to live in the land. I know many missionaries and church planters who intend to serve God but do not enter and connect fully with their context. They live in a secure neighborhood so they can go to a poor one and their plant a church. How would Jesus have done it? Where there is little contact, there is little impact for the kingdom.
Cultivating faithfulness is the last part of this verse. Building patterns of truthful living and integrity will lead to healthy service for the sake of the gospel. This verse gave direction to my steps then as it does today.
Church planting and missions today require, as in the case of Rachel Saint, a deep conviction that your passions and desires must all be surrendered in a devoted heart before the Lord. Church planting requires a deep call of Lord to lay down our lives for the sake of others receiving the good news and growing into a body of believers. Many passions and desires that are not focused can be a distraction from God’s call to plant the gospel. May we grow our delight in the Lord, and desire to see the gospel planted anew in our day.