Monday, October 21, 2013

The Sticks Have Names

I have company this morning. She’s not up yet, but will be soon. I fully intended to repost a blog from several years ago. The subject’s been on my mind since our mission conference. It’s from a sermon years ago – enough years ago that it was before I posted on Blogger, therefore the post is lost and the thoughts must be recreated.

I do not remember the speaker’s name – only the story he told of a man who came to a conference of missionaries, asking them to send someone to his home. The man carried a bundle of sticks and as he described people who lived around him that had not heard of Jesus as written in the Bible, he gave their names and held up a stick. When he spoke of them dying without hearing, he dropped the stick.

The speaker’s delivery – along with sticks in his own hand – stuck with me because of the visual image, along with the fact that “the sticks had names.” No longer dead wood to be tossed away, each stick had someone’s name, someone’s story, someone’s life and someone’s eternity.

The sticks have names.

No longer faceless concepts of fields ripe for harvest. No longer a vastness referred to as ‘mission field.’ No longer thoughts of a city where a missionary would set up services. Names. Individuals.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (Acts 16:9 KJV)

Read from the first of that chapter – it’s a turning point for Luke. In verse 4 he wrote “as they went;” in verse 6, “when they had;” in seven, “but the Spirit suffered them not.” Then comes Paul’s vision, and in verse ten:

And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:10 KJV)

For decades I was aware – and supported financially as well as prayerfully – of missions and missionaries. I thought of missionaries as individuals as I had met many. I thought of the people they were ministering to – as a whole. After this one sermon, though, I understood that “the sticks have names.”

Each of us has a ministry, a mission, a field. We could pick up a bundle of sticks and apply the names of people we know could use the comfort of our Lord, the love of our Lord and most assuredly, the salvation offered by our Lord. As Christians, we’ve every one read:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)

Perhaps they should read two verses ahead:

And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17 KJV)

Move beyond the doubts we all experience at some time. Accomplish the ministry our Lord has called upon each of us to accomplish.

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