Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:16-20
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
- John 21:15-19
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
- Acts 1:7-9
“In giving the statistics of the previous year 1871-72, I referred already to the great spiritual blessing, which it pleased the Lord to grant to the Orphan Work at the end of that year and the beginning of this; but, as this is so deeply important a subject, I enter somewhat further and fully into it here. It was stated before, that the spiritual condition of the Orphans generally gave to us great sorrow of heart, because there were so few, comparatively, among them, who were in earnest about their souls, and resting upon the atoning death of the Lord Jesus for salvation. This our sorrow led us to lay it on the whole staff of assistants, matrons and teachers, to seek earnestly the Lord’s blessing on the souls of the children. This was done in our united prayer meetings, and, I have reason to believe; in secret also, and in answer to these our secret and united prayers, in the year 1872, there were, as the result of this, more believers by far among the Orphans than ever. On Jan. 8 1872, the Lord began to work among them, and this work was going on more or less afterwards. …”
- George Müller, Answers to Prayer
Before I get to the main point, although this relates, notice how George Müller refers to the Orphans with a capital “O,” as if Orphan was a proper name. This is extremely important in our service to those who are Less Fortunate. Rev. George Müller loved the Orphans under his care, so that individually, but also as a group, they were human. They all had souls. Thus, even as a group, he referred to them in terms of a Proper Name so that none would be slighted.
We should go out and do our mission work to help those who are Less Fortunate in the same manner. They are not less fortunate. They are Less Fortunate, short for Lester Fortunate, if you will. They are humans who have both hearts and souls.
But now to the revival. Later in the paragraph that starts with the quote above, Rev. George Müller claims that 729 souls were saved among the Orphans through prayer and witnessing by the staff. He talked about House Number 3 lagging the others until smallpox ravaged the House. As he said, the smallpox was God’s work. While looking death in the eye, many came to Jesus.
But what amazed me was that George Müller made no bones about shifting his focus when the news came to him of a lack of Christians inside a Christian Orphan House.
Why does this amaze me? I have been in too many churches where the membership cannot believe that it is possible to be sitting next to an un-believer, just because that person is a member of the church, as if membership is what God really wants of us. I have known countless do-gooders who could never make a statement regarding what they believe and wouldn’t dare sully their mission work of feeding, clothing, and repairing houses to mention the name of Jesus. I know of few churches who go into a mission effort of mucking out houses after a flood or repairing roofs after a high wind with the thought of spreading the Gospel and saving souls. Too many rely on the name printed on the church van to communicate where they came from and then hope the people being helped will visit and the preacher can explain things. That’s what we pay him for, isn’t it?
But no, the great commission is meant for all believers.
I may have gotten carried away with my commands of Jesus as recorded in Matthew, John, and Acts, but they each say things a little differently. Matthew focuses on spreading the Gospel and teaching. John focuses on “feeding and caring for” the lambs of Jesus, but that can be intellectual and spiritual food, not just feeding the bellies. And Acts is open to interpretation. In being the witnesses for Jesus, everything that we do should point to Jesus.
But if your only message when doing mission work is the printed letters on the van, you glorified the church building and organization, not necessarily God.
I listened to an audio spot on a website many years ago. It was the International Bible Society website, now known as Biblica.com. These radio-style announcers were saying that most people on the street are worried more about how food will reach their table than they are about where they will go if they die tonight. This audio file was placed on the site as the relational evangelism movement was getting started, but there is a flaw there. When we now establish a relationship, are we afraid to ruin the relationship by talking about Jesus? If so, why did we enter the relationship in the first place?
Rev. George Müller saw a spiritual need and he acted. What is not recorded is why he had to be told by others that this was a problem. Maybe he had the idea, as many of us today have, that the Orphans will know Jesus because Jesus is the power and strength that provides for the Orphan-House. But, as the International Bible Society audio file suggested, many Orphans only worried about staying underneath a roof, having clothes, and getting fed. And if some old dumb, fool is willing to dedicate his life so that I might have the essentials, more power to him – never knowing that Jesus was the power.
So, let’s go into mission work with the thought and many prayers of saving souls. Let’s also pray for those to our left and right in the pew at church, not to mention those in front and behind, and if you have a balcony, on the other floor, or at the other campus, or out in the hall watching on closed circuit TV. There are those who attend for the social aspects or even for the built-in opportunity of community service. These people need Jesus as much as those who just had their house flooded.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.