Posted by: howvoicebegan | 17/05/2012

The Results Are In: It’s Not About Results

This past week I finally had a chance to see how missions is done the African way. Usually in the States we think of missions with a picture of going to a distant African country. But what happens when an African country goes on a missions trip?

That is how I found myself in Mozambique, South Africa’s neighboring country to the east. I came with a heart to serve, but also with eager anticipation to be challenged to think of missions in a different way.

We came with nothing- no supplies, no money, no project. Our trip was solely focused on the prayer, encouragement, and Good News that we could bring. We took to heart that we would not come with persuasive words but only with the Spirit’s power to move in the lives of people so they could see the true source of hope (1 Corinthians 2:4). Our schedule wasn’t just about visiting people and praying with them- it was packed well into the night with evening church services.From the morning until night we were focused on missions.

I loved this approach but I wrestled with it. Isn’t it difficult, or discouraging, to not have “results”? We had no pictures to take of a house or a garden that we had finished during the week. We had prayer, but would we ever see the answers to the prayers?

I had to bring this up to my team: I know that what we are doing is good, but isn’t it difficult to walk away without having a clearly defined result after giving a week to missions?

Eleanor shares a word with a woman who was blind but had surgery in one eye to see again.

“We give what we have in abundance,” Eleanor, Pastor Titus’ wife, answered. “America has been blessed with financial and material abundance, so you give out of that. But we do not have these things, so we give what we have- spiritual food.”

She said that the goal is to one day have resources to give- but it will never replace the missions that takes place. The resources will be used only to further the missions and serve as a reminder to people what God has done for them. There will still be morning prayer, there will still be ministering to people we are serving, and there will still be nightly church services to call people to Christ. That is, after all, the entire point of missions: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

So I thought, “Why don’t we do that in missions in the States? Where is the prayer for healing or to cast out poverty in the lives we see?” Are we too goal- and results- oriented? What happens when we pray for someone and they aren’t healed- where does that fit into out target numbers and results? Are we afraid the answer to prayer will be “no” and we won’t have a cool story to share when we get home?

God is not looking for results, but for obedience. He said to Ezekiel, “It doesn’t matter if the people listen to you or not- what matters is they will not be able to deny that they have encountered a prophet.” (Ezekiel 2:5) God sent Ezekiel to the exiled Jews; He wanted His message delivered- whether there were results or not.

What matters is that we ministered, not that we completed a project. What matters is that we went. And after two years in South Africa, it’s not a matter of how many projects I’ve completed- it’s that I listened when God said, “GO- what really matters is that everyone will know Who sent you.”

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Responses

  1. Your questions are on target. Maybe I can reflect a little from the US side. There are ministries that do exactly what you recommend—give love, listening, and prayer. Northshore has a Financial Aid Ministry—there is a team who interviews to love, listen, review application with the client, and pray for them. They do not make financial decisions. When there is enough money to help, the help is only supplemental. This team meets once a month to do this. We discovered that it was too stressful to hear the difficult stories on a weekly basis and realize that the church wasn’t going to be able to adequately help them with their need financially. It felt like 1 John 3:17-18—like if we have what is needed, just praying with them is not enough. The difference with here and Africa is that US Christians do have something with which they can help. They have money and food, but the need is too large for them, and they feel intimidated—to often praying doesn’t feel like real help, even though it is.


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