Ellie and I started our overseas career in 1995, in northern Pakistan. The northern area was closed to missionaries, so we got in because I am a doctor. But it was very difficult to witness there, and in two years, I shared the gospel one time. It felt like God had given us a box of plastic spoons, told us to sit on a paved sidewalk and said, “Dig a hole to China.”
Side note: To dig a hole to China we would have had to tunnel under the Karakoram mountain range with just one box of plastic spoons, which were much flimsier in those days.
After two years, we were kicked out of Pakistan. The government told me that they thought I might be with the CIA, they weren’t sure, so it was just easier for them to kick us out. We moved about two hundred miles away, into India, to work with the same people group; the Kashmiri.
In India things were different. The area was still completely Muslim but, because of an ongoing war, many people were secretly interested in Jesus. I shared the gospel all of the time. Over the next two years we think that several hundred came to Christ and we were right there to train them and help them form into healthy churches with strong leadership. It felt like God had given us a harvesting basket and said, “Go pick up those ripe peaches off of the ground.”
These days Elle and I work among a people group of about three million where there are no known baptized disciples—at least, not until last week. There have been rumors that a few dozen folks have stated a belief in Jesus, but we now know of one guy who has had the faith to obey Jesus by being baptized and there may also be a woman that will be baptized soon.
God is doing more among our people group than we know, so there are certainly other disciples that we don’t know about.
Years ago, when I thought about the harvest in Kashmir, God stuck a verse into my mind: “I have sent you to reap a harvest that you did not sow. Others have done the hard work, and you have benefited from their labor.” (John 4:38)
Main Point: We see ourselves as one person, working during our lifetime, but God is working across all time, orchestrating many disciples, to redeem for himself a remnant from every nation; to complete His Church.
So what: Your job is not to judge yourself or others as successful or unsuccessful based upon the results that you think you see. Your job is to obey, no matter how difficult or dangerous, just as the young man in our country has recently done.