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Turtle Speed

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In recent years, my sister Jamie has become quite the NASCAR fan. She could tell you stats and info about almost any of the drivers and never misses a chance to watch a race. Perhaps some of you reading this are also in the NASCAR fan club. What attracts you to this sport? What motivates you to watch the cars circle a track for hours? I have a feeling it involves a little word spelled S-P-E-E-D.

Velocity has much to do with the thrill of racing cars. As absurd as it sounds, someone has yet to make it big with sporting events involving our green-shelled friends, the turtles. We may die of boredom—or old age—waiting for these pokey little creatures to cross the finish line.

My sister’s enthusiasm has made me think about velocity in relation to missions. If I had my choice, I’d share Christ the “NASCAR way” and have all my friends and family in the United States and abroad come to know Jesus right now (or yesterday, actually).

Then I open my Bible to Mark 10. Jesus says after His encounter with the rich young man that it’s “really hard.” What’s really hard? For the wealthy to see their need of Him. Then my jaw drops as I read the end of the biblical account. The rich young man walked away from Christ! Did he ever talk to Christ again? What did the rest of his life look like? Maybe years later something clicked for him and he turned to the Messiah.

Although the work is at times slow in our human estimation, God is at work among the upper-middle classes in Buenos Aires. Working with an unreached group requires long-term perseverance, patience with seemingly turtle-speed results and a paradigm shift in regard to “success.” Success in missions in the eyes of our Father doesn’t mean that people never reject the gospel.

One of my favorite parts about our cell church meeting is the moment when Manuel* prays. Each week, I see and hear Manuel’s child-like faith. When he talks about Christ, his face lights up! But just a few years ago, he was not a happy man. Manuel was an Argentine spy and held a myriad of beliefs—but none that included the truth about Jesus Christ. After years of prayer and perseverance, Manuel no longer “walks away sad,” like the rich young ruler. Manuel is now a worshiper of the Lamb.

I’ve been thinking of a title for a book I’d like to write about my journey in Argentina. Maybe I’ll call it Lord of the Turtles. The results of our missions efforts may sometimes appear to be measured in small, slow steps rather than giant leaps forward. I’ve learned about “sacred conversations,” sowing seeds and having absolute dependence on the Father. Maybe one day we’ll look back and see that slow and steady really does win the race and that turtle speed, though lacking the excitement of NASCAR, isn’t all that bad after all.

Often the work among the upper-middle classes of Argentina looks more like being an international worker in a creative-access country, whereas in many other parts of South America the truth of Christ is widely accepted. Would you take a moment to pray for missionaries in areas of the world where the ground is hard and the work is slow? Oh, yeah, and pray that we’ll be good turtles.

Luke 13:29 states: “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” I know one wealthy man who will be coming from the south . . . South America, that is. You’ll recognize Manuel by the smile on his face and the Name of Christ on his lips.

*Name changed

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