It wasn’t until my husband and I, along with our daughters and our 17 suitcases, stood on international soil that we fully realized the distance we were from our families. One ocean sure has a way of making North America seem like an entire world away. And, while we couldn’t be more confident in God’s leading in our lives to take us to Belgium, moving overseas left us with a very raw understanding of exactly where we weren’t located.
It’s our home. It’s where we both graduated from high school and then fell in love with Jesus and each other all at the same time. But it’s also my little sister’s home. She’s been raised in the Bible Belt just the same as you and me. Yet, she has rejected the very Gospel we left our home to share.
Oswald J. Smith once said, “No one has the right to hear the Gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”
This very quote, which was once a catalyst in breaking my heart for international missions, now causes my throat to clench and my mind to race each time I’m exposed to it. My sister has heard and rejected the saving message of Jesus probably 99 times over, and yet, if I could choose anyone on this planet to believe and accept the Gospel at this exact moment, I’d pick her hands down.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize she has had more than her fair share of chances, but, when I read or hear that quote now, everything within me cries out, “No! ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH! 99 TIMES IS NOT ENOUGH! DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!” I beg God, “Oh, Father, please, please, please send someone—anyone— to share Your truth with her as many times as it takes! Father, send someone! Please!”No! ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH! 99 TIMES IS NOT ENOUGH! DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!” I beg God, “Oh, Father, please, please, please send someone---anyone--- to share Your truth with her as many times as it takes! Father, send someone! Please!” Click To Tweet
Perhaps she needs just one more chance, and I can’t bear to risk her eternity all for the sake of fairness.
Besides, it doesn’t have to be fair. Truth be told, my heart aches an actual physical pain when I think of people living with no Gospel witness in their language or when I think of people who view Jesus on the same scale as they view the Tooth Fairy. Trust me, I fully believe these people need the Gospel and that the church needs to be motivated to reach the unreached. But my sister doesn’t live amongst the lost tribal peoples of the jungle, and she doesn’t live within the highly skeptical communities of Europe. No, she lives in a community surrounded by Gospel witnesses, and I see no reason why she should be denied her 100th time of hearing the Gospel all because someone all the way around the world hasn’t heard it once.
The truth is no one has the right to hear the Gospel. Period. Not once, not twice, not 100 times! But praise God, because in His magnificent grace He extended the Gospel to some of us 500 times over before we finally accepted it. There is no need to count chances or opportunities or to measure fairness. Let’s give the Gospel as many times as we possibly can if it means someone comes to accept what they’ve been rejecting for far too long.
And this, this task of living out and sharing the Gospel with someone like my sister for the 100th time, this is the greatest need I have of you. Please understand that in following God to Belgium, we have been left with no option other than to trust God’s people to do God’s work amongst the people we love with all our hearts, yet left on one side of the ocean so that we can reach strangers on the other side of the ocean.
I’m convinced that one of these days God’s Spirit is going to finally permeate that stubborn little heart of hers. Oh, what a glorious day that will be. But that day isn’t going to come passively. She’s highly moral, dedicated, hard-working, insanely intelligent, and fiercely independent. She’s a good person, and she’s not alone in her demographic.
There are countless people scattered throughout Christian neighborhoods that have heard the Gospel, rejected it, and should have the chance to see it lived out and heard it proclaimed as many times as it takes. Some of these people have been burned by the church. Some of these people are hurting so bad they can’t trust anyone anymore. And some of these people are so successful and sufficient they can’t see a need for Jesus. These unnamed people, perhaps they are nobodies to you, but to someone they are somebodies. My sister is one of them.
Reaching people like her isn’t going to be easy. I’m relying on you to intentionally seek out, find, and love on people just like her despite the challenge. The task is difficult, but I’ve got a couple practical tips for you.
First, you will not find her within the walls of any church. Instead, you’ll find her grocery shopping at the local Hyvee or studying late into the night at a small coffee shop. Maybe you’ll find her plugging away at her 9-5 or participating in a spin class at the YMCA. You’re going to need to be intentional about finding and befriending the non-believers in your everyday life in order to reach people like her. She will not find you.You’re going to need to be intentional about finding and befriending the non-believers in your everyday life in order to reach people like her. She will not find you. Click To Tweet
Furthermore, keep in mind people who weren’t anything like Jesus still liked Jesus. Human nature tells us to hang out with people similar to us, but that’s exactly the opposite of what Jesus did. People who had nothing in common with Jesus still loved being around Him. Love is likeable; joy is contagious; and peace is attractive. You’re going to need to show people what Jesus with skin on looks like. I know my sister would be attracted to Jesus if she could only experience Him for who He truly is.
Can you understand my deepest need of you now? It’s your everyday, all-out Jesus-living right where you’re located in Springfield, MO that I am most in need of over here in Belgium. I rest knowing my sister resides amongst a wellspring of Gospel witnesses, and it enables me to fully focus on the task God has for me over here. And while I know a face-to-face Gospel witness doesn’t compare to God’s Word, I also know my little sister isn’t going to be cracking open her Bible anytime soon, which means I have to have you be that face-to-face witness she and I both desperately need you to be.
I’m counting on you to invite your intimidating coworker to lunch, to make dinner for the overworked student you saw at the coffee shop, and to be willing to chat with someone who looks a little glazed over in the checkout lane. I need you to be willing to live out the Gospel so clearly that even she couldn’t deny Christ’s love for her. Maybe one more chance is all she really needs.