A foundational truth that I constantly remind myself – God precedes us in that which He has tasked us to do. To speak of “God’s mission” is to assume that He is actively involved in our world. He is already intersecting into the paths of individuals and in the affairs of communities and nations. In no way is He absent or passively looking down from the heavens, with folded hands.
When we say that we partner with God in His mission, our foremost task is thus, to ‘hear’ Him and ‘see’ that which He is already doing. Then, we do the things He has privileged us to perform for His cause.
In Acts 8:26-39, God preceded Philip in his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. God had already opened the heart of this Ethiopian. He was a seeker of God. At that juncture, he just needed one last piece of the jigsaw to usher him into a dimension of spirituality that is only possible through a revelation of God in His Son, the Lord Jesus. That required a Philip.
Philip was busy with the fruits of a spiritual revival in Samaria (Acts 8:1-25). But when God’s angel spoke to him, Philip obediently walked away from it. He made his way to the Jerusalem-Gaza desert road. God had assigned him to share the Gospel with just one individual. This high-ranking individual was one of the keys that opened the doors for an entire kingdom; Ethiopia embracing the Gospel in the later centuries.
God preceded Ainul, a Nepali Christian leader in a church that I previously pastored. He first came to Malaysia in 2002. To send money to his family, Ainul would remit it through a family friend, based in Nepal. Unfortunately, this ‘trusted’ friend not only absconded with the money, he eloped with his wife!
The affair ended tragically with the death of Ainul’s wife, leaving Ainul with three mother-less children. Some years later, Ainul found out that his betrayer was now working in Malaysia. With revenge in his heart, Ainul hired several Indonesian men and together, they embarked on a bus journey to Johor.
On that trip, a Christian Nepali man sat next to Ainul and began what was to Ainul, the strangest of conversations. He said to Ainul that God told him someone in that long trip to Johor was grappling with life and death. He felt God pointing him to Ainul and so emboldened, he spoke his mind.
Ainul was livid but the man did not relent. Over a prolonged heated conversation, Ainul and his cohorts nearly beat up that man. The events that day ended in a manner that Ainul did not anticipate. He encountered Christ. It was through a man, who did not know that God preceded him, yet was bold enough to act on it.
Our stories are probably less dramatic but as we seek to pray, give, and do our part in His mission, this is our assurance – God precedes us!
Peace and Grace,
Chan Nam Chen