Simuti crowd, East Malaysia

Goliath: Before and after

Have you ever felt faintly discouraged by cool testimonies? Have you ever thought, “What am I doing wrong? I’m not seeing that kind of fruit!” and then scolded yourself for being small-minded?

We need to learn all we can from others’ successes. There’s no merit in hacking away with a blunt sickle, or persisting with a hammer, when we should use a crowbar.

Success stories however, are often abbreviated. Before David knocked off Goliath, there were lions, bears and brothers to get past, and after his sensational victory, his life became very complicated. We need persistence and faithfulness in the tedious work that goes before, plus wisdom to redeem the unravelling that too often follows!

Thirty years ago, God opened a door for us to an unreached “nation” in the mountains of East Malaysia. We didn’t know much about planting churches, but we pushed through considerable obstacles, while teaching at high school and leading the pastoral team of a growing church in town. The key man that I shared my life with worked the fields alongside other men, sharing Jesus with them, until everyone in a village of 300 came to faith. From there, they have taken the Gospel to other villages. Times have changed – now I have more Facebook friends from that village than anywhere else on earth!

hat is the happy (and true) version! But passing the baton to younger leaders has been a sad saga; many promises remain unfulfilled and many key people have fallen away. We are still fighting to build on the early success, still trying to coach and cajole them into serious church planting in other villages. Thirty years later, it is an ongoing battle, with heartache and tears alongside the good times.

And the next village down the track was, and still is, a completely different story – much less fruit, much less fun, but we still keep going back there too. Persistence born out of love! It’s a fragrant offering to the Lord and a sign of integrity to the people we seek to reach! Hang in there, for a harvest and a crown!

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