That Day On My Knees…
by Julie Hughes
There are many ways to engage in missions and church planting. If you are planting a successful thriving traditional “hub” style church, and you are satisfied with the amount and quality of fruit, keep on going!
But we were not satisfied. We knew at the rate we were going it would take years to reach even a few hundred people! But, thousands and millions needed to hear the Gospel and be engaged!
We began exploring our options, and God began shining a light on the villages surrounding our city. There was much resistance from the enemy, and from others in the traditional church setting. But the main opposition was the resistance we felt within ourselves. The problem of planting more churches was not a lack of resources but my willingness to change! We were pushing up against walls in our minds and our limited experience. While more fruitfulness had always been at the forefront of our minds, we wanted to see if indeed there was more fruit if and when we ventured forward. After all, wasn’t this the reason we were willing to leave all and follow Jesus into the unknown twenty years before?
I was bashing up against a wall! I knew we were not as effective we could be. We were doing okay, but okay can be the enemy of the best! Also, I was resisting going into the villages. It was difficult, it was strange, it was unknown. But I had to make a change, and I knew the changes meant we would be ostracized by our own status quo.
The “big war” inside my heart was about the preferences I held so dear.
Frankly, the “big war” inside my heart was about the preferences I held so dear. The language and style I preferred. The way I did church. I loved the neat little chairs, the microphones that worked, the sermon I neatly studied for and delivered regularly.
But the villages were calling out to me!
Then, came that day… in my bedroom on my knees when God made it so clear to me. I was wrestling. I was fighting. I was counting the cost. And, I was grieving the loss of the familiar.
While I was on my knees praying, my eyes fell to my open Bible on the bed. In Matthew 23: 11-15, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, and He said these words: “…The greatest one among you must be your servant. Whoever makes himself great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be made great. How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, but you yourselves don’t go in, nor do you allow in, those who are trying to enter! How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!”
I could see my pride. I could see I was in danger of teaching others to be just like me. I needed to repent, to let God have His way.
That day, on my knees I allowed God to wipe clean all the things I was doing for Him and let Him set a new stage for me. This stage started with humility.
What I didn’t know at that moment, was the wonderful adventure that was ahead. I didn’t know that God would use me in so much more! I would get to preach, I would get to sing! I would get to pray for people way more than before. And the quality of the fruit was simply amazing. It was beautiful to see what God had in store for us.
Looking back, I would not trade this for the world.
I thought I would be giving up so much, but actually what I gained was incredible! I laugh now to think that I ever hesitated or had a struggle giving up “my way.”
And I almost missed it.
Editor’s Note: Globe International missionaries Bill and Julie Hughes have spent the last 20-plus years working in Northeast Thailand, planting churches among the “Isan” people. After more than fifteen years of evangelism and traditional church planting in the city, a few years ago they ventured into Isan villages to begin planting simple, quickly reproducible indigenous churches. The impact of this methodology has been incredible. You can follow Bill and Julie on their Facebook blog and in their newsletters on this website.