May 7, 2014.
Day two of Nicaragua and I think things are going great! Today we spilt up into three groups, one went to the academy to teach english, one went door knocking in the community and one went to members houses. I was with the group that visited members houses. It was really cool even though I can’t really speak the language, it’s really great to interact with the people here. I could go on and on about the family, but I won’t be too redundant.
One thing I have learned on this trip is a better way to understand what some of the New Testament times were like, or at least I think I better understand it. Let me give you and example. Sometimes we refer to this story as the limited commission:
“And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
Now, reading this through American eyes it may seem silly to do such a thing, and indeed I would agree that this tactic of sending teams of two down the streets of New York or Chicago or even Chattanooga would not be very effective. People in our society just aren’t that receptive to at least listening to the gospel to let someone come into their house and sit down with them for a while. So why would Jesus send these men on an impossible mission?
I think the answer is clearly that it wasn’t an impossible mission. I say that because here in Nicaragua I believe that our Lord could have said the same thing he said to the twelve in this passage and the people (or at least a good number) would have invited them in, made them comfortable even, and listened to the good news. Now, whether or not a majority would accept the message or not I could not tell you. All I can say is that I understand how this plan could have worked, and could have worked very well given the culture. I wish America could be more hospitable as these people are. But that is neither here nor there.
One thing that I think all cultures can pull from this passage is the fact that Christ sent them out two by two. He could have very well said they all scatter and cover more ground by only letting one person go to a certain area, but he didn’t. He put them in teams. I’m sure we all have experienced the fear that accompanies talking to someone about Christ. Not that we should let that fear stop us from doing so, but I do think it is prudent to acknowledge it.
One way I have learned to combat this fear is to have someone of the same faith as you be with you when you are spreading the gospel. I think this is the reason Christ sent them out in groups. As I have said before, Christianity is a relational ideology. We were made to have relationships. That was the plan from the beginning. Why would spreading the good news be any different? It is so much easier to go with someone to help you and you them. I have grown to love short term mission work because of the relationships you build with the team you go with. It’s truly amazing how close you can grow towards someone when you spend this much time spreading Christ with them. You can make relationships that last, and the stories never seem to fade away. We are a team.
I think Christ set the precedent here for mission work to be done in teams. When Paul did mission work, he always took one or two people (at least) with him. Paul, the guy who had been directly called by Christ and had most of his knowledge about the gospel supernaturally given to him. This Paul still took Barnabas or John Mark or Silas or Timothy (ect.) with him to do the work. This is a lesson in and of itself.
Two by two. The next time you decide to make a planned effort to spread the gospel (remember, the fields are white for harvest), why not plan to take someone with you. It might just be the push you need to make some headway in evangelism. We are a team, the body of Christ. If separate body parts aren’t working in conjunction with one another, then the body will not function properly. The plan has been set. Let us let Him guide us. To God be all the glory. Amen.
Suggested Daily Reading: Mark 6, Acts 13-14, I Corinthians 12.
The Lord guide you.