Why Must the Laborers be Few?


BY JORDAN SCOTT


 

Before I talk about the Kurdish people specifically, I would like to explore what it means to be called to be a missionary. Often the call to missions is over-complicated and sensationalized. The work of overseas ministry is marketed as if it’s only attainable to a select few who have what it takes, the really serious Christians who have audibly heard the voice of God tell them to go to Iraq. I don’t mean to imply that God doesn’t literally call people to specific countries and people groups, but in my experience it is the exception rather than the rule, and is a bad expectation and hindrance to many who are supposed to be working in the ripe harvest fields of the world. 

Isn't it just like Satan to discourage men before they even step foot out the door? Isn’t just like him to make a distinction between a 'missionary' and another member of the body of Christ? As a one who lives on the foreign field to make disciples, I can say with confidence, there is no distinction. I’m a pretty simple guy—I can boast in there being nothing special in my Christian walk that qualifies me to be serving the Lord overseas and that’s beautiful to the Lord. The God-glorifying fact is that His power is made strong through human weakness, not by humans puffing out our chests with pride that we “made the cut” and are somehow “elite.”

Let’s re-look at this familiar verse because, though the Word itself can never be made trite, I believe passage has become glossed-over in many Christian hearts. It’s this very verse that describes our qualifications to be used by God.

“But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” [1]

This verse levels the playing field and proves there is no select, superior group in the church. There is only one calling for all: serve the Body and disciple the lost. This is true hope for a layperson. God has intentions for our lives regardless of our background.

A way I see this 'God calls the qualified' mindset (rather than 'qualifying the called') manifesting itself is in the amazing lack of single men ministering in crisis areas of the Middle East. Without breaking a sweat, I could name 18 unmarried women who have either ministered here or are currently living in Iraq. There is one unmarried man on our team right now (though he’s not available, sorry ladies).

So, either the Lord of the harvest has decided to only call single girls to minister in war zones, or my generation of men aren't listening and disqualifying themselves by misguidedly expecting God to audibly call them to a specific nation or to stay put. But you guys have a Bible—you have the great commission! I call on generation to lay down your Xbox, pick up your cross, and follow your Messiah.

My family cannot say that we were called by God to the Kurdish people. Four years ago, I didn't even know who they were. However, my wife and I both bought into Jesus’ name being made famous where it was not. Then, some of my closest Christian friends decided to move to Kurdistan, and their decision that really helped direct my steps. That’s how my wife and two daughters ended up here.  No audible voice from God, no highlight on a map, no specific burden for the Kurdish people—just a young, passionate family who loves the Lord and wants others to love Him too.

Now that we got the issues of calling sorted out, I want to address the question of why focus on the Kurds? Why befriend the Kurdish people?

The short answer, they like us, and our open to our friendship. They let us move into their neighborhoods and serve their people. So perhaps a better question might be, “Why in heaven’s name not the Kurds?”

But perhaps this illustration will help expand on that answer: I recently drove into East Mosul with a team for a food and water distribution. As we were passing out packages of food, we would see families sitting next to the goods while another family member would go find a wheelbarrow to transport it. I see this one kid, about seven years old, sitting next to four cases of water. And a few feet away I see another kid, same age, sitting on the ground with nothing next to him.

If you were on the distribution with us that day, who would you give your water to?

America is sitting next to four centuries of “water”—four hundred years of access to the Gospel. The Kurds aren’t. I'll let you make the choice.

If you’re weak, you're qualified in Jesus. If you’re proud in your own strength and qualifications, you're actually disqualified. The humble who love the Lord and have desire to make His name famous in the nations will do it and we’ll help you along the way. Make no mistake: we’re not lowering the bar on moral issues! What we are doing is managing the expectation of 'fantastic callings' to come into alignment with our Biblical calling. If the Lord doesn't want you to go, He’ll stop you the way He stopped Paul in Asia.[2] The Lord gives direction, but if you don't make forward progress, you’ll just be moving in a circle, which is dizzying, discouraging, will make you sick, and is not very beautiful to watch.

Be beautiful: obey the great commission. If you know for certain the Lord has called you to your country of birth, consider this water off a duck's back. If you want to make friends with Kurds or pursue a life on the field, we're here to help you do that. 

 

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Jordan Scott lives in Iraqi Kurdistan with his wife and two children, where he serves as Director of Community Development. He can be reached by email at Jordan@faimission.org.


 

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[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9
[2] Acts 16:6