Are You Ready To Be Deployed?

Are You Ready To Be Deployed?

The final dimension of a true disciple is that he or she is deployed. True disciples are engaged in the ministry of Jesus. More specifically, they are making disciples by walking with God, reaching their world and investing in a few. 
Deployed is an action word. It’s boots on the ground. Over the years, I’ve had several friends who were in the military. One friend was a Commander in the Air Force during operation desert Storm. He flew several sorties into enemy territory during that conflict. For him, deployment meant leaving the safety of home and engaging in the battle. 
Now take that image into the mission of Jesus. A true disciple is a deployed disciple. A true disciple isn’t just someone who simply believes in Jesus and spends his or her time working on spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible and prayer, this disciple is actively advancing the Kingdom of God by reaching people for Christ and walking with them to maturity. He or she has skin in the game, left the bench and is on the playing field!

Seeing hurting people the way God sees them

One day as Jesus was traveling from village to village, teaching and ministering to the crowds, He was overcome with compassion. He saw that they were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” (Matthew 9.36 ESV). Here the Greek word “harassed” is skullo which means “to be mangled, torn apart and cut to the bone.” The Greek word “helpless” is rhipto which means to throw to the ground. Jesus saw these people the way His Father saw them — victims of the enemy; hurt, betrayed, abused, torn apart and beat down, discarded and walked on. He saw that they had no one to look after them or care for them.
I’ve seen my share of hurting people. I’ve walked through the slums in India where children are playing on garbage heaps and subsist without clean water or shelter. I’ve been in inner-city schools, tagged and marked by the local gangs. I’ve looked into the eyes of the homeless, the single mom, the elderly and forgotten. 
During the economic recession of 2008-2009, the United States job market lost 8.4 million jobs. At the time, that represented 6.1% of all jobs in the nation. The area I’m pastoring today was hit especially hard. I’ll never forget seeing a middle-aged man standing on a street corner dressed in a nice suit and tie, briefcase at his side, holding a handwritten sign that read, “I need a job.” Harassed! Helpless! Jesus was broken for these people.

What’s the solution?

When I stop long enough to see people the way God does, my heart breaks too. It was in that moment of honest emotion that Jesus called for the solution. What’s the solution to the pain and heartbreak in our culture? Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” (Matthew 9.37 ESV)
Jesus said our response to human suffering in the world is prayer, but not a prayer that says, “Lord, help these people. They are really hurting.” It’s a prayer that says, “Lord, help these people by sending more laborers into the harvest field.” 
We often hear this verse when someone is making an earnest plea for more volunteers at the church. The children’s workers are running low, so the pastor quotes this passage — “Pray earnestly for the Lord of the harvest to send laborers” — and “the signup sheet is at the information desk as you exit the auditorium.”
Jesus isn’t telling us to pray for more volunteers within the church. He’s telling us to pray for people to be sent out from the church and into the harvest field. The harvest is where lost people are. The harvest is where people are hurting, where they are harassed and helpless, and need the hope of the Gospel. 

True disciples are deployed into the harvest field.

They intentionally and purposefully seek out those who are far from God, and they invest their lives in a few believers to help them walk with Jesus. Many disciples today are doing just this, even in the face of hostility and resistance. 
On a trip to Bangalore, India, I had the opportunity to sit with pastors who have suffered greatly to follow Jesus. We gathered in an upstairs cinderblock building. Fifteen to 20 Indian pastors sat politely in the seats, excited to hear what our team had to say to them. A local denominational leader who wanted to encourage pastors in his district organized the meeting. 
I was the scheduled preacher for the day, but I quickly realized that I was sitting among giants. Every one of these men had come from a Muslim background and had chosen to follow Christ at the risk of his life. One pastor heard the Gospel in his remote village over a radio broadcast. He wrote in to request a Bible, and for months he studied it in secret. When he was discovered to be a Christ follower, the village men beat him severely and threatened his life. His mother helped him escape. He left behind his wife, children, home, and job. He had absolutely nothing.
I also had the opportunity to meet a young woman named Fatima. When her family learned that she was a Christ-follower, she was threatened with death — honor killing. She later escaped and found refuge with Christians. In the years that followed, she married a young Christian man and had a small child. Over time, she was able to communicate with her father and mother, and their hostility toward her appeared to have abated. But when she returned home to retrieve some personal documents, her brothers beat her and her husband. As she told me her story, I could still see her bruises and the blood in her eyes. Jesus warned His followers that deployment into the harvest field wouldn’t be easy, but He promised that He would be with us.

Jesus’ vision for His church.

Can you imagine a group of men and women in your church, trained and mobilized to reach people with the Gospel? Can you imagine hundreds of people trained to invest in others and showing them how to walk with God? Jesus could. That was His vision for His church. It still is.
Are you ready to get deployed and help Jesus fulfill His vision?
This blog features an excerpt from our book, Invest In A Few.

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