I was invited to a memorial service for a dear friend of mine, Patricia Johnson, who served the Lord faithfully with the Jewish community here in Los Angeles. The pastor, who was officiating at her service, shared a story that captured my attention. He spoke of two missionaries who served at different times on the same island. Here’s the story he shared:
“A true life story is told of a missionary who traveled to the South Pacific to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the local people on an island. Back in the day, missionaries knew that they would not come back to their families because of the mode of travel. When he arrived at the island, he did not initially open his Bible and preach to them. Instead he learned their customs, loved them, was humble, gentle, and forgave them when they did wrong. After two years of being there, he contracted a rare disease, and died. A year later, another missionary came to that same island, but his approach was different. He opened the Bible and began to teach the people how God in heaven sent his son Jesus to love people, die for their sins and provide eternal life for all who believe. When they heard this, they said, “We know that man! He came here to live with us, and then he died.” The Missionary said, “No, Jesus lived 2,000 years ago and died on a cross and resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins.”
The islanders then responded, ‘THEN WE WANT TO ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR RIGHT NOW AND GO TO HEAVEN WHEN WE DIE.’”
Because of the incarnational approach taken by the first missionary, the islanders mistook the second missionary’s account of Jesus as being that of their former friend. But then, upon realizing that this new missionary was speaking of Someone greater than their friend, they eagerly sought to become disciples of our Lord.
God is calling His Whole Church to live our lives in our neighborhoods just like that missionary . . . just as Jesus did . . . so that they might mistake us for Jesus and want to have what we have . . . a relationship with the heavenly Father. Won’t you join Him in the work He is doing right outside your door?