Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Fright of Missions

Vanilla Wafers
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
 (John 10: 27 NASB)

I coordinated a recruiting tour for Youth With A Mission in the late 1980s and early 1900s, called Night of Missions.   We held meetings in thirty-five cities east of the Mississippi River around a nice dessert format.  I once learned that by not listening to God, a Night of Missions could become a “Fright of Missions.”

In an exasperated voice I said, Lord, who is in charge here?  Several weeks earlier we had to cancel part of our tour for logistical reasons.  I had sent letters of explanation to all of the affected city directors notifying them of the cancelation.  One day in my office in central Virginia I got a phone call from the Director from Virginia Beach, Virginia, one of the canceled cities.  He said, “We are looking forward to you coming.  We have just sent out four to five hundred invitations.”  My heart fell from my chest into my stomach.  I explained to the Director the missed communication.  He seemed very disappointed.  Due to the disenchantment of the Director, and the lingering image of a huge crowd of people being challenged to reach the world, I made a snap decision.  I said, we’ll make it happen.  It was a couple of days before the scheduled event, and I had no team, and the multimedia equipment we used was on the west coast.

I begged and borrowed a makeshift team of missionaries from our staff.  I rented the media equipment, at no small cost, thinking with a crowd of several hundred people we would recoup the expense.  We arrived at Virginia Beach for the meeting, and there was no one to meet us at the church.  The atmosphere was strangely quiet.  Not long before the meeting was scheduled to start, the Director arrived with his son.  The boy plopped a partly eaten box of vanilla wafers on the otherwise empty dessert table.  I thought to myself; this is not good.  A few people straggled into the hall, maybe ten or so.  We had almost as many on the platform as in the audience.  If we had raised the volume of the media equipment to its capacity, we would have the blown the small group of people out of the back of the auditorium.

With a stiff upper lip, we did the presentation.  That night we went to bed a little discouraged.  The next morning I got up and was greeted by a flat tire on our van.  I said, Lord, who is in charge here?  It is funny how we try to blame our mistakes on God.  It was not long that morning before I realized the error of my ways.  I had violated a foundational value of the mission with which I worked, hearing the voice of Lord and obeying in detail.  My hasty decision upon receiving the phone call from the Director was partly due to the fear of man, and partially due to the lure of a successful meeting. 

One day the next week back at our training center I found a box of vanilla wafers on my office desk.  One of my staff had put it there to gently remind me, seek God first, Ken.  And to this day I still do not eat vanilla wafers.

PS -A few months later I met a young lady who was working with our mission.  She told me that she was called to missions that night.  God can even use our blunders for His glory.

Images used with permission by Microsoft. 

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing