When The Size of The Task - Surpasses The Size of The Place

Pastor W. Vila, Mato Grosso, Brazil

    Last year, after I had served as a co-pastor in a Baptist church for some time, the pastor of that church came and offered me a position, pastoring a small church, in a town 20 km away from our home.  The congregation of about 15 people, have their own building.  The town where this church is, began as a village about 30 years ago.  It began with a rough start.  Lots of people at that time were just invading lands from a big farm.  Years later the government worked out and made the land division official.  The population of the whole county is a little over 3000 people.  The town itself might have half of that population.  Our little church started about 9 years ago in someone's home.  Years later they bought property and started to build.  Now we have room for about 80 people, but only 15 are very regular in the meetings.  All around are farms and ranches, and this is actually what runs the economy of the region.

    I am already working full time, so it is not like I have lots of free time.  The pastor said to me, "I want you to look after that town, and become the town's pastor!  Not just the church's pastor."  Wow that sounded very broad and challenging to me.  It took me back in memory, to my years as a missionary in Zimbabwe, when I read a book saying that Hudson Taylor dreamed with a region in mind, not only a town.  I started to dream with this church, and ask the Lord, "What is your desire for this congregation?  What do you want us to do to become relevant to the whole region?"  Most of the churches here, just serve their members spiritually.  None of the denominations I know here have any social programs that serve the community.  This is sad because the opportunities especially for community development are so many.

Lord, Let me see what You see!

    Being a missionary for so many years, helped me to learn that excitement for ministry in a place cannot come from necessities of opportunities.  They are both there in all places, and every corner of the world.  So, what must drive our motivation to serve?  The word of the Lord for each place we serve.  I learned to ask the Lord to share with me His heart for the people and the place.  I have asked my church body to fast and seek the Lord.  I threw two basic questions out to the church members to ask the Lord about:  How do You, Lord, see us as a local church in this community?  And, what do You want us to do for you as a church in this region?

    Yes, as a pastor that has to deal with people's expectations, I do know that if people do not have a sense of direction from me, it is hard to follow.  In South America, our culture expects it from the leader.  But they also have to have a revealing word from the Lord about themselves and their participation, or they will not engage with the church's mission easily.  They must be convinced by the Holy Spirit, more than just by me.  The Lord already told me certain things about the church and the region, and this is why I am so excited!  To listen to His voice, is the fuel for any ministry in any place.  It doesn't matter if it is a big city, or a small community of 10 houses in the riverbank of the Amazonas River.  The place the Lord chose for you and I is the best place to be at work.  He will show us how to do things, and will empower church members to discover His will, and live His destiny.

    What have I been praying for?  I envision a church planting movement in the rural areas of our region, state, Brazil, and in the nations.  I also see us becoming active in the social life of our region.  I do not know the details yet.  But sense in my spirit that we must go beyond the four walls of the building.  Can something good come out of our community?  Yes!!!  I see missionaries going to other far off places, preaching and discipling people!  I have been asking the Lord, "Please help me see what You see, and walk in Your footsteps here.  Please go before us showing the way."  When I read in the Scriptures, and see that "Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing", I do see it as a key attitude for becoming excited and efficient in what needs to be done here.

    If you are struggling with motivation for ministry.  Or if you feel trapped in the actual size of the ministry, or the place (community) you have, just stop everything and spend time with the Lord.  Ask Him for His heart for that people and place.  Ask Him for the key of the community's heart to be given to you.  I hope I have encouraged you a little bit today.