There is a saying that has become very significant in our lives since we arrived in Medellin. My title is only part of the saying. “God doesn’t call the equipped; God equips the called.” As I’ve told you before, Paulette and I are not pastors. We didn’t graduate from Seminary or even Bible college. But that didn’t stop the Lord Jesus Christ from bringing us to South America to help start a new church! We are simply amazed, yet thrilled that He has chosen to use us for such a wonderful ministry. And we are not alone!
God Equips the Called Through Other People
In many ways, The Lord has shown us that He knows what He is doing and that He is in total control. Here is how in our case “God equips the called”:
- First, He trained for 10 months under some folks who did know what they were doing. We appreciate all that Dan and Carol did to get us started the right way. They helped a lot.
- Second, He brought some very smart people around us to help grow this church in spite of all our weaknesses. Robert is a Master’s candidate at Liberty University. He will soon start work on his Doctorate. Paul is an ordained minister who has worked in churches and other Christian ministries, and also in business his whole life. These guys are not here by accident!
- Third, He introduced us to Michael and Nichole who are now our best friends. They have been missionaries from Colorado for almost 4 years. Less than 2 years ago, we didn’t even know they existed. Now we work side-by-side with 3 small-group Bible studies. We met them the week we arrived in Medellin. If that’s not enough, we discovered we were living in the same apartment complex! In a city of over 3 million people with tens of thousands of apartment complexes, that was not just a coincidence.
- Fourth, He just happened to have a couple here who have been missionaries to Colombia for more than 50 years. They were here ministering long before Pablo Escobar became so notorious. And Jesus made sure we found Mark and Barbara as well as their missionary son, Andrew and his wife Johana. What an incredible source of encouragement they have all been for us.
The Bible Says God Chooses and Equips Us
In preparing this post, I discovered several articles that were so excellent, I had to link them here. These authors write much better than I could write. The first is entitled “He Equips the Called”. This article references passages from the New Testament which speak to God’s Divine work in the lives of His people. He chooses us for His own good purposes. God’s divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He works in us to accomplish His will, and He equips us with everything we need for doing His will.
Another is titled “When The Lord Calls, He Equips“. It brings out several men from the Old Testament including Moses, Jonah, Gideon, and Jeremiah. Each of these men had questions and even fears about being adequate for the task. But in every case, God proved faithful. He equipped the called. And He assures us that He will put the words in our mouths and the tools in our hands to accomplish the work He has begun in us.
Jesus Is Building His Church
I found a wonderful message from Dr. John MacArthur the other day titled “How the Lord Builds His Church”. In his introduction, he quotes Matthew 16:18 in which the Lord Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” In other words, Jesus is going to build His church and nothing can stop Him, nothing can overpower Him!
Dr. MacArthur looks to the Book of Acts for the means Jesus used to grow the church. And the first thing he says is that Peter preached the simple gospel message on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were saved and baptized. I can’t imagine where they found enough water! This message is “transcendent”. That means it does not change. It is the same regardless of culture, age, nationality or geography. Paul says
“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 1 Cor 2:1-2
God the Father doesn’t need our help to change the terms of His message for different peoples. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way to the Father. And if that is not enough, John 3:16 provides the final say –
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The Important Question
Dr. MacArthur also said, “The question for us is by what means does the Lord build His church? That is the compelling question. Because whatever that means, that’s what we want to be engaged in so that we can be a part of what He is doing. Then, He will not have to move to someone else to use them instead of us, thus forfeiting our usefulness, our joy, and our eternal reward.”
Jesus is Building His Church in Latin America
Here in Medellin, we see Jesus building His church. Of course, the Bible defines “church” as a body of believers, not a physical building. He is building His church on the confession of faith found in Matt 16:16, “Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is building His church for Spanish-speakers, and English-speakers, for Colombians, Americans, Europeans, and Venezuelans. When Michael and I were privileged to go to a mission conference in Brazil, we saw clear evidence that Jesus is building His church in every country in Central and South America. Our youngest missionary was from Mexico City, and he testified that Jesus is building His church all over Mexico. And our 17 months in Panama showed us clear evidence that Jesus is alive and well there also, building His church through those He has called and equipped.
This month, we have been so encouraged by two different couples from Idaho, in whom God has built a desire to come to Medellin and be used to minister as the Holy Spirit leads. It once again shows that God is very interested in Medellin.
Recently, I was introduced to the book of Titus. It is full of God’s wisdom and encouragement:
“4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
Praise the Lord for His goodness and lovingkindness.