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Come Over and Help Us

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My first trip overseas occurred in 1971, when I spent nearly 18 months in Germany and a few weeks in France. I knew very little about European culture, and I was there only because the U.S. Army commanded me to go.

I had attended church frequently before being drafted into military service, but I had not yet been born again. I could not see very far past my own needs and was not happy to be somewhere I did not choose to go. I had been given no reason to care about the souls of the French or Germans, and I remember wanting to go back home as soon as I could. My attitude was diametrically opposed to that of a faithful missionary.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were seeking God’s will about where to share the gospel. They sought to preach on the coasts of Asia Minor, but the Holy Spirit refused to permit that. As they passed through Phyrgia and Galatia heading toward Mysia, the Spirit of Jesus prevented them from going to Bithynia. Eventually, the Lord gave Paul a vision of a man saying, “‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’” (Acts 16:9). The good news is that these two exemplary missionaries immediately obeyed the “Macedonian call,” and the world has never been the same.

I have often wondered how much of an impact I might have made in Europe if my eyes had been more open to the needs of others. I remember reading my Bible in those days, looking for answers to my personal dilemma more than seeking the Savior. I even attempted to counsel others who were discouraged about being away from home and in the military. Although I was unsaved, the Lord was attempting to show me how to help others by using the Scriptures.

To Paul and Silas, foreign countries were places that needed messengers of the Lord to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are grateful for those among us who share that passion for others. Those who need to be reached live across the oceans, across our cities and even across the street. Many of God’s children hesitate to get involved because they are not sure where to go; consequently, they choose to sit still and do nothing. It has been said often, and bears repeating, that it is much easier to turn the wheels of a vehicle that is in motion than one that is parked.

Paul and Silas were determined to advance the message of the gospel and were open to receive God’s direction as they were moving forward. There will be encouraging days, like the one where Paul and his group met Lydia (Acts 16:11–15), that will affirm to us that we have heard the call to “come over and help us.” There may also be days that, because of suffering hardships such as the accusations, beatings and imprisonment that occurred in Acts 16:16-24, we will wonder if we misread the call of God. Despite being mistreated, Paul and Silas praised God through it all. As the praises went up, the glory came down, and many prisoners were set free (Acts 16:25–34).

Whenever I have opportunity to visit foreign soil from now on, I will see the people who live there with new eyes. External and cultural differences are viewed properly through eyes that are spiritually open. I hope each of us will have the sense of mission that makes us believe someone has been praying that God would send a human being to help them, and we will be used by God to personalize the answer to that prayer. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to open doors of ministry for us as we commit to being used by Him.

Someone needs your help. Are you ready for an exciting journey?

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