The Real Reason Missionaries Don’t Quit
By Doug Gehman
Somebody once said that the definition of insanity is: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Jesus alluded to this idea in Matthew 10:14 when He told His disciples to leave unreceptive people: “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”
One of my mentors, Ray Jennings, worked in India through most of the 1970s and 1980s. He preached to millions of people. In the mid-1980s, he was invited by President Indira Gandhi to conduct an open air crusade in New Delhi. It was a pinnacle moment in Ray’s career, but human recognition was never what motivated Ray Jennings.
book cover front – final copy editRay, his family, and his team, suffered greatly in the years they worked in the subcontinent. Ray loved the villages and his team preached in countless poverty-stricken hamlets. They lived simply… with the people. And, on occasion, they were run out of town by angry radicals. Ray’s oldest son died when he fell from a bridge in Pakistan. But, despite all the hardships, Ray Jennings stuck to his vision for millions of people… and eventually God answered his prayer. In the Jennings meetings, crowds sometimes grew to 50,000, 60,000, even 100,000 people.
“All the difficulty – the dirty hotels, sketchy food, bumpy roads, incessant heat, horrible traffic, hostile officials, and insufficient resources – vanished into insignificance when God moved and thousands of people gathered to hear the gospel.”
Ray’s favorite word was: Stick-to-it-iveness. And, his favorite saying was, “When God moves, all the hardships become worthwhile.”
During our intern years, we spent a year with the Jennings team. I learned what Ray meant. All the difficulty – the dirty hotels, sketchy food, bumpy roads, incessant heat, horrible traffic, hostile officials, and insufficient resources – vanished into insignificance when God moved and thousands of people gathered to hear the gospel. When they closed their eyes and folded their hands to pray to the living God, all human weariness drifted away in a river of divine compassion and joy.
The Jennings Team in Bombay, India
(circa 1981) Ray Jennings is third from right
Donald McGavran once wrote that God’s people must develop “Harvest Eyes” where we “see” hungry people. McGavran also insisted we must have a “harvest theology” that drives us to find them. We must have the courage to turn away from indifferent people and go on a determined search for lost sheep.
My prayer is that God will give you an insatiable hunger for harvest! To find hungry people in your world. And, to courageously leave the rest behind.
We love you and pray for you daily,