Fiona Steward, a missionary with UFM Worldwide and Grace Baptist Mission, has been reaching out to students in Bordeaux, France, for the last 8 years. She shared her inmost motivations in a recent prayer letter.
What can be done without God? An obvious question, but one that our sinful, self-reliant, self-glorifying hearts need to grasp more. It is a deep consolation to be reminded that no one can stop the Lord accomplishing all that he has purposed. Everything is through and for Christ. The glory can only ever go to him.
What can be done without the cross? I love what was said of Spurgeon’s preaching, that whatever the text ‘he moved as quickly as possible to the cross of Jesus Christ’. As one preacher said, our lives and message should be ‘Jesus Christ and his cross and nothing else!’
What can be done without faith? It is one thing to know and another to believe. ‘But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is…’ (Hebrews 11:6a). Faith in who God is, is the essence of everything, the answer to all our problems. However, too often our small-minded vision of God causes us to doubt his love, wisdom and power.
What can be done without love? I have been struck many times by how love is what it’s all about. Jesus lavished his love on us, so why do we find it so hard to love him and love others in the extravagant way the Bible commands us to? Carol Liddiard (who pioneered the work here) used to say: ‘You’ll really start ministering when it begins to hurt!’ How can we effectively reach the lost unless our hearts are broken for them?
What can be done without disappointments, setbacks and mistakes? How I love the lessons the Lord has so tenderly taught me through difficulties and foolish mistakes. All these setbacks make me cling to him alone and bank on his promises. They give me a longing for the Word and desperation in prayer. It is these painful life lessons that feed into my ministry with hurting people and help me lead them to the cross.
What can be done without prayer? Real prayer seems to be one of the hardest things. But I love the promise in Hebrews 11:6b: ‘He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him’. Prayer is saying, ‘I need you’, but also, ‘I want you more than anything else.’ Earnest prayer is God’s means for accomplishing his eternal plans. This Wednesday we had an unusually thrilling discussion with a student who was genuinely seeking and asking all the right questions. The next day someone e-mailed to say that he and his wife were praying the morning before, that we would be ‘led to some new contact who was seeking’!
What can be done without organisation, hard work and contentment? Organisation has its place within the context of prayer, as long as we are prepared for God to sometimes ‘frustrate’ our plans. A phrase which struck me many years ago is, ‘Wherever you are, be all there’ — and it’s not talking about our mental capacities! It’s a call to do everything with our whole heart; not wishing we were somewhere else or talking to someone else, but giving ourselves to the situation God has placed us in.
What can be done without integrity and accountability? Dishonesty can be subtle, like sparing a few unflattering details so that people think well of us. God wants there to be a transparency about us, so that there is nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of; and we can reap the peace and power which come from that. I have found that sharing weaknesses, struggles and encouragements with trusted friends, in the context of the Word and prayer, is life giving and can prevent the danger of living a lie.
What can be done without belonging to a good local church? Not very much, long term. Spiritual babes need to be taken care of and fed. Children and adults also need constant nourishment, encouragement and discipline. The churches continue to be my deepest burden for Bordeaux and France; and, of course, for the student work in its goal of seeing French people saved, integrated into and leading French churches.
Please visit www.facbordeaux.org or email [email protected] to find out more about the student ministry in Bordeaux. Short or long-term placements are available for youngish French speakers, zealous to share the gospel in prayerful reliance on God.