God’s plans to reach the lost are precise, and He is still the same loving and thoughtful God today as in Bible times. For example, let’s consider Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4.
The Spirit led Jesus to meet the Samaritan woman. The meeting, the request, the information, and the declaration Jesus made during His encounter with the woman were completely unexpected by her. But the Spirit of God was already preparing her to receive the light of truth (see Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, ?p. 190). God knew when she would finally be ready to receive Him. So can you imagine how eager Jesus was? Just think of how long He must have waited. “He is patient . . . , not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Even though Jesus was tired, He grasped the opportunity to reach the lost. His “food” was to reach the lost! He surprised the disciples when He took the unusual path of going through rather than around Samaria. That day the Spirit took them “out of their way.”
No Shortcuts or Detours
This is another thing Jesus really is good at—taking us out of our way. Ever since creation was conceived, He knew He would have to go out of His way to cure the sick, restore vision to the blind, feed the poor, free the captives, and proclaim God’s grace.
What about your own story? Maybe He went out of His way to reach you in a prison, a club, a drug pit, or any other place condemned by human prejudice. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to go the extra miles to reach us. If He came all the way from heaven to save us, He won’t go around us on earth.
Jesus loves us so much that He went straight to Calvary and bought us back! He didn’t take any shortcuts. He didn’t leave us by the side of the road. These are things that we are good at. We go around people. We look for shortcuts. We take detours so we don’t have to go through our own personal Calvary. And even when we seem to be going straight, sometimes we are doing it for our own selfish reasons.
But Jesus went straight to Calvary. He took the longer and harder way in order to proclaim God’s grace! So if He went out of His way, I don’t see how we can reach others without being ?driven out of ours.
Going out of our way demands effort and courage. Sometimes we need to take risks. Church leaders in South America were a bit skeptical when we first heard about satellite evangelism—but it worked! We thought people wouldn’t come to watch a preacher on a screen, but they did, and thousands were baptized. Satellite evangelism has been an effective tool in South America.
The Divine GPS
If God is our GPS, we can’t question His ways. If He tells us to go through Samaria, we must go, even if it isn’t our normal path. We may have to face animosity. The strategy may be questioned. But if Jesus is indicating the way, let’s follow Him.
Even though procedures, meetings, insurance, and votes are necessary to administrate a church, we need to keep our spiritual channel open to the Lord’s Spirit. He will guide us in the use of the tools we have in our favor. And as time passes, world policies will restrain us, and our most effective help will be God’s providence. God will show us what to do in order to buy us more time and give us more space in which to work, but we also need to make the best of the opportunities He gives us today.
In the beginning of the Adventist Church movement, we went in the direction pointed out by God. Adventist pastors attended annual councils and prayed for guidance as to where they should go to evangelize. They moved from city to city. Nowadays many of our own neighborhoods are considered part of our global mission. We can be missionaries in our own countries. Let’s allow the Spirit to detain or send us wherever He needs us. It’s God’s mission. Let Him show us the way. God will guide us with His divine GPS to every forgotten region on earth in order to reach His children. He will help us overcome prejudice and fear. People forgotten and previously unreachable because of political or religious reasons will be visited.
Retaining Our Identity
We can’t lose our identity as Seventh-day Adventists. We used to be called a people of the Book. Let’s reaffirm our identity and move as we did in the past. I feel God calling me to proclaim His grace. Don’t you? Don’t you hear Him calling you out of your way? Jesus is coming back only when we all have done our part.
We have challenges in whatever region of the world we’re called to serve. If the Spirit shows you some neglected “Samaria,” accept the call to minister there, even if it means changing a personal project. We’re living in the last days. We need to find the best ways to reach everyone—and one size does not fit all.
Jesus taught the disciples not to settle for the safer way when He is in front. He was very precise when He promised to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. He taught them not to worry about popularity when it comes to reaching the lost. He admonishes us not to lose our way while hoping for positions or offices. He told us not to get attached to worldly treasures.
Proclaiming the Message of Grace
We have such a wonderful message to proclaim. We can help free people! I remember a boy named Enderson in my first pastoral district. A church member asked me to visit him because he soon would be going to a seminary to become a priest. When we got to his home, we started talking about our common love for ministry. Before we left, I gave him some literature to read. The next day he called me saying he had finished reading what I left, so I gave him another book. This one took him a week to read. I continued giving him literature. When the time came for him to go to the seminary, we prayed for him. I then went on vacation, and when I came back I found him attending our church. He told us how the Holy Spirit started reminding him of what he had learned from us. Months later he was baptized. Today he is a pastor in Maranhão, a northeastern state of Brazil. Last year he helped bring more than 100 people to Christ.
I challenge you in the precious name of Jesus to proclaim His grace like never before. Jesus expressed His heart to His disciples saying, “My food is to obey the will of the One who sent Me and to finish the work He gave Me to do. Take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested!” (John 4:34, 35, author paraphrase).
The challenge was immediate. The Holy Spirit moved our church’s founding fathers to immediate preaching. Today the Spirit wants to move you and me to reach the lost and fulfill God’s mission. Please accept God’s challenge.
Denny Martins, senior pastor, Portão Adventist Church, Curitiba, Brazil