bits from bob....

Reflections on a Real Tragedy

by Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

It's been almost a year now since the great tsunami tragedy. The death toll was incredible--200000-250000 precious souls.

Many people were able in the face of physical devastation to recognize the tragedy of lost lives. Many especially mourn the deaths of children. But in a spiritual sense, for the children who were robbed of their future, it is not grim for they are with God. Their future is an eternity with a God who loves them. Their future is with all those who possess the child-like spirit.

For the adults, the tragedy of their deaths is obvious. Many have spoken of it. But there is a greater tragedy. That tragedy is that in every natural disaster, there are those who perish and come stand before the great white throne unprepared for the judgment. They die not knowing God and not obeying the gospel of Christ. In our world, no more than 3 of 10 profess at a minimal level to be followers of Jesus. It is not hard to find those who believe less than 1% of the world's population is genuinely discipled to Jesus--genuinely ready for the judgment.

Why do so many die unprepared? The question is often asked, and even more frequently repeated in the face of disasters. And other questions are common. Where was God? What has He been doing? The answer: he has been trusting us to take them the Gospel that has the power to separate them from sin and prepare them for eternity.

What have we been doing with that trust?
God has given us the power to reach the entire population of the earth in our generation if we will just use it.

Many die without Christ in tragic events. Thousands die without Christ every day. Why? What are we doing with our trust? Look at our mission budgets and perhaps we can find the answer there. How many missionaries will lose support this year because of asphalt, bricks, and chandeliers? How many good people who want to go cannot go because there is no one willing to help send them? How many congregations fail to realize that sending a member to the field short term is one of the greatest investments they can make. Why? They not only honor the trust God has placed in them, they not only reach souls who otherwise would never hear the gospel, but the greatest return on the investment is that the congregation receives members who return ready to do the same thing in their neighborhood.

The experience of one U.S. congregation provides an example. A young man whose work was to carry the materials to be passed out by the door-knocking team found himself at a door alone with someone who was interested in a study. He did the job. He was asked, as his group was leaving to return to the states, if he knew he could do that. His response was, "Not until I came on this trip I didn't." The congregation sent a youngster on a mission trip. They got back a soul-winner. Those who are involved in children's Bible classes focused in missions are producing young people who want to go when they are old enough. Over the past few years, hundreds have heard the gospel preached in Honduras. Over 40 were converted in one week last summer. Several new congregations have been established in the last five years. God has added precious souls to the account of every congregation and every individual who helps us in our missions efforts--through our efforts and support of the Amicus Association, Instituto Baxter, in Escuela Biblia Honduras, through Predisan, and across Central America. (Philippians 4:17)

I am thankful for those who have provided me assistance to accomplish such things. Jan and I are more thankful that God has allowed us to be largely self-funding in such efforts. Yet I would that some will read this and be encouraged to greater involvement in missions. As in the Capital One commercial, many of us can find hundreds of ways to say "no" when mission work comes up.

To those congregations who are "saving for a rainy day" I want to say "There are disasters all around us, and there is yet another coming." There are 6.3 billion souls on this earth. Over 66 million will die in 2005. God entrusted us with the message that will lead them to Heaven. I don't want to stand before that great white throne guilty of not honoring that trust. Do you?

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Last updated November 16, 2005.