WORLD CHANGERS WEEK – Jacob Thiak
Go and make disciples of all nations. This was one of the last commandments Jesus gave to us before He departed. During a week in the middle of June, I assisted in leading a group of eleven World Changers to do just that: to go out into the neighborhoods of Charlotte to spread the Gospel. We specifically targeted refugee and minority groups who have had either limited knowledge of the Gospel or none at all, and invited their kids to a Vacation Bible School that was held at the Great Commission Center from Wednesday to Friday.
Beginning Tuesday morning, our team went out to the refugee neighborhoods to prayer walk and prayer drive for the community. We prayed that God would open their hearts and lead them, in some way, to Christ. After all of this, we spent the entire afternoon trekking from door to door delivering flyers and information about the VBS that was to start the next day. While, handing out over 500 flyers, we encountered many unusual and interesting experiences in our face-to-face interactions with the people. Most of the time no one answered the door, so we simply left a flyer on their door. Sometimes we wouldn’t even be able to communicate with the person because of the language barrier. Other times, they would answer and take the flyer without any of us saying more than two words. We even met a person who flat out said that he didn’t believe in any of the things we were sharing with him and began to instantly tear up our flyer the moment we turned around. But some of the times people seemed genuinely interested in knowing about the Neighborhood Bible Club and knowing our testimonies and vice versa.
So approaching the Bible Club the next day our team was generally optimistic. We had everything prepared and set up enough to harbor 50 or more children. Our energy was high and we were all excited to make an impact on the neighborhoods of kids, but by the time it was ready to start, only five kids showed up. At the end of the day, we thought to ourselves that we were fine, that this day was an anomaly and a lot of kids would show up the next day. However, only six showed, and they came 30 minutes late. The next day, our final day, no one showed up.
Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I would be lying if I said I did not have a feeling of doubt in God’s plan. I would be lying if I said that I felt that everything we did that week was meaningful, helpful, and purposeful, and not meaningless, hopeless, and a waste of time. It was easy for me to get caught in these emotions, to believe that God was apathetic about the refugees in this community, but the moment I took a step back, to see how much God has already worked in this community, that even five kids actually responded to Him, I was filled with peace. I was reminded that ministry is not easy. Fulfilling the Great Commission is not easy. God has called us to a life of suffering AND everlasting joy. Specifically for the refugee groups we dealt with, though a language, cultural, and trust barrier all exists, nothing is impossible for God, and that is shown so clearly in the five children and their parents that showed up that day. The Great Commission requires you to build trust with people, to know them personally and develop relationships with them so that they can know Christ through you, and that Christ can use you as His vessel to call all people to Himself. I realized that week that ministry often doesn’t give you what you want, that things will not always go according to your own plan and vision, but it always goes according to God’s vision and His plan. And more importantly, that God has a plan and He will fulfill it through His timing, His grace, and His sovereignty. And through patience, hope, and faith, we must trust that God “will carry everything to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”