Romans 3:10, NLT As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous–not even one.”
Romans 3:23, NASB “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
1 Cor. 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted…”
Do missionaries also face temptations? You can bet your life they do! They do not only face temptations, some sadly fall flat into it! Temptations to missionaries come for different reasons and from different sources like oblivious ignorance, avoidable mistakes, errors of judgment, sheer carelessness, unresolved character issues, an uncrucified old man in full burst, etc!
Yours truly had a fair dose.
Financial Temptation – Oblivious Ignorance!
While on one field, we resolved that what would most enhance our ministry and push it to the next generation was not the construction of a church or churches as the general thinking goes but the development of a training center. If you build a church, you have built a church. If you develop a Mission Training/Equipping Centre, you have built countless churches and for generations to come.
So, although we were ‘faith missionaries’, practically living from hand to mouth, we set the uncanny goal of building a training center, beginning with the construction of a block of classrooms and offices. We invited a local pastor and friend who was also a builder – God bless Pastor Johnson in heaven, “Pastor, the reason we have invited you to help with this project is that we have a plan; we have a vision but we do not have money. We are going to trust God together. It will be like this: when we have one bag of cement, we’ll call you and you will add a few lines of bricks . Okay?”
The Pastor agreed and the project began. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘Faith honors God and God honors faith?’ Well, it is definitely true. The building went much more rapidly than we imagined. Suddenly, we began to receive gifts from here and there, and soon, it was time to put the iron roofing. However, the project was forced to stop for lack of funds but continued in prayers.
My wife and I were trusting God. We did not tell any mortal what we were doing. Each morning we would go inside that building to pray and prophesy. Thus, after one such morning prayers, I traveled to the big city to get supplies for my family. I decided to stop and greet a friend who worked at a bank and also to check our account balances, just in case. After greeting my friend, I realized upon checking the account balance that therein was a large amount of unanticipated money – enough to buy all the wood and iron sheets to complete the building.
“Hallelujah,” I said, “The miracle is here!” I instantly withdrew the whole amount, went to the market, bought everything needed to roof the building, hired a big truck and headed back to base. When the big truck honked at our house entrance around 10 pm, my wife could not believe her eyes. She asked, “Where are you coming from?”
“From the city of course,” I replied. “’Who owns the truck?”, she furthered quizzed. “I don’t know. But I own the goods inside the truck.”, I answered.
“What’s inside? Where did you get it from?”, she continued.
“My wife, let’s offload first, I’ll tell you the whole story later!”
I must have looked like an armed robber on the run or some kind of Ali Baba! (I mean Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves, not Alibaba the online supermarket) So we offloaded and the truck left. Now I had to explain the magic I did! I recounted my experience and my wife asked, “Are you really sure?” to which I quickly interjected “Have we not been praying for money, for a miracle? Did we not pray even this morning?”
“Well, I’m just kind of afraid, unsure.”, she said.
“Look if you are believing God, then you just have to believe Him. You don’t stop middle of the way!” was my retort.
Hallelujah. Within the next few days, the building was roofed and on its way to completion.
The Bad, Bad Email
In those days, we had to travel four hours to the big city to ‘do email and communications’. Although they already existed, we had no personal computers. So about two weeks after the miracle money, it was time to go to the big city again. I did and decided to check emails before heading back to the bush.
Among many emails, there was one from a friend who we hadn’t communicated with in a while. It went, “Joses, I have transferred US$700 into your account, please help give it to Pastor So and So for such and such project and seminar.”
What? I almost fainted in the internet cafe!
I’m not sure how I made the four hour journey back home. But when I did, I had a printout copy of the email to give my wife. “My dear, please read!”
“What…what are we going to do?”, she asked.
“I don’t know. I think, I just want to sleep first.” I replied.
So we slept and woke up!
My Leadership Saved Me!
Not too long after, before the money was needed by the owner, I had an invitation to participate in one of our Missions’ Leadership Conferences. As soon as I got there, I went to our leader.
“Sir, I have a big problem. I have spent somebody’s money and my reputation is up in flames.” I told my story to which my leader said, “Wow, that’s very serious. Let’s see what the Lord would do before the end of this meeting.”
Truly, when it was time to return to my field, I was handed an envelope with the full amount in it!
God bless good mission leaders and leaderships. What would we do without them?
Man has faced very many sexual temptations. Once I was challenged in the village: “How can you stick with only one woman when there are so many others around? When I said ‘I am a Missionary’ the response was, “Of course we know.” In fact, my wife was once confronted by women in a village where we had worked who asked, “How could you be so selfish, keeping that man all to yourself?”
Man has faced many temptations of pride. When people hail you as though you are the best thing that has ever happened. Hear them. Respect their judgment but just don’t let it get into your head!
Man has faced temptations to exaggerate figures, results, sufferings, etc.
What about temptations to hate the target people, to slow down and take things easy, to relax and enjoy. In fact, after the Lord had done some amazing work in a field where we worked and we had packed up to go into a new pioneer work, some neighbours heard of it and they came home to advise us.
They said, “We know how you came to this village and you have worked so hard. Now is the time for you to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Did we hear that you’re going to start all over again somewhere?”
“This is not my place of enjoyment, don’t spoil my joy,” I told myself.
We face temptations, my man! You face temptations too. Prepare yourself. You will face many more and it gets sneakier each day. Prepare yourself! Don’t say I didn’t tell you. Okay?
5 Missionary Lessons
- Temptation is a real deal even on the Mission Field. Prepare yourself.
- Missionary, know yourself. Know your weaknesses and strength. Protect yourself especially in the areas of your weaknesses.
- Be accountable, first to your spouse and then to others beyond your spouse.
- Faith is for everything, not only to place food on your table. Believe for souls. Believe for miracles. Believe for movements of disciples. Believe God for big things.
- Don’t only build for today, build for tomorrow. Think, “What would these disciples, this church, this work need 5, 10, 20 years from now.” Begin to put them in place.
End note: Right now, we are midway into developing another Training Centre in Northern part of our East African country base. We call it: The Church Planting & Equipping Centre (CPEC) – to train, equip and unleash hundreds of church planters. Pray with us for divine provisions & speed.