A sentence in the diary of James Gilmore, pioneer missionary to Mongolia, has stayed with me since the day I first read it. After years of laboring long and hard for the cause of Christ in that desperate land, he wrote, “In the shape of converts I have seen no result. I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian.”
Let me add some further reality to that statement by taking you back to an entry in Gilmore’s journal made in the early days of his ministry. It expressed his dreams and burdens for the people of Mongolia. Handwritten in his journal are these dreams: “Several huts in sight. When shall I be able to speak to the people? O Lord, suggest by the Spirit how l should come among them, and in preparing myself to teach the life and love of Christ Jesus.”
That was his hope. He longed to reach the lost of Mongolia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How different from his entry many years later, “I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian.”
What happened in between? He encountered the jagged edge of an authentic ministry. When I write about succeeding in the work of the Lord, I’m not promising success as we define it in human terms. I’m not saying because you are faithful to proclaim the Word of God your church will be packed. Some of God’s most faithful servants are preaching their hearts out in places where the church is not growing. A great temptation for those in that difficult setting is to turn to some of the other stuff that holds out the promise of more visible results. Don’t go there. Stay at it. God is at work.
Thinking of preparing for a life of ministry? Does the thought of standing before crowds of people and delivering the Word of God with passion and conviction appeal to your sense of adventure? I need to ask you one more time: Is there anything else in this world that would bring you greater enjoyment? If so, go there. Don’t even hesitate.
But if you know the Lord has called you into His work, and you would not be fulfilled doing anything else, then go there and never look back, even if the results often seem disappointing.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.