Jesus Only . . . our source of authority for mobilizing every disciple

Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully devoted disciple. Matt. 28:19


I admit it. I am “old school.” I grew up in a C&MA home saturated with passion to fulfill the Great Commission. Dad stayed home on Thursdays so Mom could go to “WMPF” for work/prayer day. Every fifth Sunday, our church’s Sunday school, morning speaker and offering were devoted to missions. We kept missionaries in our home and prayed for them daily, and each of us made a pledge during the full-week missions conference, never missing a meeting. Our church and family lived the core value: Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully devoted disciple.

When I was an eight-year-old camper at Beulah Beach (Vermilion, Ohio), God called me into cross-cultural ministry. My family did all they could—often sacrificially—to nurture that call. After nurse’s training, I attended Nyack College, where I met my husband, Woody. In 1964, we left for Vietnam as C&MA missionaries. There we learned how to “translate” the gospel and our passion for mobilization (completing the Great Commission) in culturally relevant ways through our lives and ministry. After the fall of Vietnam, we were assigned to Dalat International School in Malaysia for another seven years, basically with the same task in a totally different culture.

In 1980, after 16 years overseas, we came home, and Woody took a pastorate in western New York. The people and the church were wonderful, and we were sure we were in God’s will. But I struggled.

Then God gave me a wonderful insight. On home assignment, I had often told people that those who stayed home and prayed would receive the same reward as those who went to the mission field (based on 1 Sam. 30:24). As I joined our church’s Alliance Women (then called WMPF), I began to more fully understand what I had been talking about all those years.

I was now the one “staying home and praying,” and it was hard work. It was not nearly as exciting as “going,” and I realized that I had unconsciously developed an attitude that going was more REAL AND WORTHY than praying, giving and sending.

Once again, we had to learn to live the gospel and our passion for mobilization in our own lives first and then adapt that to what it would “look like” in our “new” culture. This included being a district superintendent couple, being in national leadership in Alliance Women, pastoring again, directing Short-Term Missions at the National Office and, most recently, being missions mobilizers for the Central District.

It would also include something harder and unexpected. First, our older son was called to work as a “tentmaker” and became a member of IFAP (International Fellowship of Alliance Professionals). For the past 18 years he has been working as a businessman in Asia. Then our younger son, who lived in a nearby state, was asked to serve with the C&MA as chaplain at Black Forest Academy in Germany. When he and his wife left, they took our two grandchildren and have added two more since then. We regularly remind ourselves that mobilization can come “close to home” and be costly.

Now we are retired but continue to look for ways to mobilize—ourselves first and then others—not as a job, but because it is who we are. We honestly believe that completing the Great Commission will require a response from every fully devoted disciple!

Mobilization is not pumping people up; it is an outcome of the life of Jesus in us. He is our authority for anything we do, and it is His enabling, His creativity, His gifts and His presence that make all mobilization—praying, giving, sending or going—possible. It means something different and very personal for every “fully devoted disciple.” And it always involves translating the gospel through our own daily lives and callings.

There are steps to mobilization: hearing God speak to us, taking steps to follow His lead and letting God take care of the results. No act is an end in itself; we need to see the Kingdom in all we do, whether sending children to camp, leading a prayer group, taking a short-term missions trip, sponsoring a child or increasing our giving. After all, though “mobilization” means “getting moving,” it is not mere activity. We must always focus on the completion of the Great Commission.

The story of Carl Ralston is well known. Carl, head of the Central District C&MA Men’s Ministry, went on the Getting It Done Asia (GIDA) short-term trip and asked God to show him how he could serve. At the last session, Carl heard missionary Rick Drummond speak about ministries among Vietnamese children in Cambodia. Carl sold his business, and he and his wife, Laurie, founded Remember Nhu, a nonprofit organization dedicated to help prevent the exploitation of children around the world.

Mobilization to complete the Great Commission always comes from Jesus, but He uses many ways (speakers, films, projects and nudges, as well as our talents, gifts and desires) to jump start us. Our part, as disciples, is to position ourselves to hear from Him.

Are you a truly devoted disciple? How is God mobilizing you to fulfill the Great Commission?

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