Monday, November 20, 2006

"And Then 50 People Got Saved..."

Hello All,

Alright, so the title of this post might be a tad misleading! In fact, I believe it is one of the things about missionary work that is the most misleading. And it's not really due to false advertising per se, as many missionaries report great success. It's just that "success" is such a relative term. Spain makes me wonder how I will define success.

I have been really struck by just how difficult this mission field really is. It's not that it's a new revelation, as Jesus said clearly that we can do NOTHING spiritual, lasting, effective, salvific apart from Him. It is however coming to grips with the reality that it seems that there is nothing that shakes at the heart of the Spaniard that I have been able to tap into. I have tried impassioned reasoning with my now former language coach. He looked at me as though I were telling him what he has known all of his life. I argued with a man over coffee, steadily answering questions and tearing down arguments that even left him speechless. All that to have him pull out his Catholic Medallion and swear that he would never betray his belief, no matter what I said. I tried playing it cool with a fellow musician. No breakthrough where there is nothing breaking!

But the kicker was just about 2 weeks ago on a Sunday. We had two men attend the church, who had been before. I happened to be preaching from Genesis 24, which is the story of Isaac's bride. I relayed how this story was a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit drawing a bride away from her closest ties to a groom that she had never met, and teaching her about him along the way, only to present her to Him at the end of the story. I mentioned that choice was a key aspect of the story and that just like Rebekah made a conscious choice, so also must we each make an individual choice to receive Christ. I was preaching my guts out and I gave the altar call, believing, hoping, praying and nothing.

It just so happened that we were doing communion that morning. Pastor Carlos explained communion, as he always does, and gave another altar call. Still no effect. Then, we took communion, an act which affirms that we are in covenant with Christ and are invested personally in the claims of the cross. Still nothing.

I went away mentally exhausted, just wondering what it would take. It could not have been any clearer! Of course, I know the verses: "Some plant, some water..." "Satan has blinded the eyes..." etc. I do not mention these lightly, as I understand the comfort that I am to derive from these passages. I merely remain shocked at the impossibility of how a man is saved and what forces of heaven must be involved to bring that process to fruition.

I say all this to say that if there is to be a spiritual work of revival in Spain, it cannot come from anything short of a miraculous intervention from God. Is this discouraging? It would indeed be so if God was unable or unwilling, but He is not.

I remembered that Jesus Himself was not known to the people of his time as a success. A man cut down at 33 with 12 disciples, all of whom were scattered at his ignominious public execution. One could say that Jesus did not win Jerusalem to Himself, so how much more difficult for us little Christ "life extension cords?"

So what is the conclusion to all this? How am I to continue? I will keep loving, keep preaching, and keep dispensing what God has put in me to dispense in the time and season that I have. I don't know how long I will have and I don't know how I will define success. None of that is important as long as I am faithful to give out what I have with all that I am! He is in charge of the results!

Thanks for listening. I needed to hear this from and for myself. Maybe you needed it too.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez


Patty said...

Praise the Lord for your commitment and faith! I know it seems like a “no brainer” to us and it’s hard to understand why a people that already have the head knowledge of the gospel can’t seem to grasp the awesome love and desire that Jesus has to have a personal, not a bureaucratical relationship with us. And even if you leave Spain feeling defeated be comforted that you’ve planted a field of seeds. I once went to a Bible study with a lady that prayed for her husband for 30 years! He wasn’t saved when I started the study and we were all still praying for him when I left the study 2 years later. Then about 3 years after I left the study I heard that he got saved and that he and his faithful wife were serving together in the church. I am in awe of that woman. You and your family are the epitome of God’s love. You leave an impression where ever you go. These people will always smile when they think of you (just as we do) and they’ll remember how you spoke of the love of Christ and lived by example. Stay encouraged. Don’t forget, you’re trying to change many generations of tradition, legalism, and fear.

Blessings and love from Patty

Frank & Lela Sanchez said...

Thank you Patty. I appreciate your words and it's always true that there is a lot of work that is being done under the surface. Who knows what will happen? The great comfort is not the result of what we do, but the fact that we have done something! God honors and is blessed as much by the intention as He is by the fruit that is produced.

Thanks again Patty!