On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27
This is a good verse for returning missionaries. The two things that the church needs to know are, “all that God had done through them” and “how he had opened a door of faith”. Often missionaries get distracted with other issues—culture, lifestyle, obstacles. These are issues for another setting perhaps with close family, friends or work colleagues. In a church setting, there are two things to report: firstly what God has done—how communities have benefited from God’s presence among them, how God’s name has been honoured, how lives have been changed (even if it’s only the missionary whose life God has changed). Secondly how God has opened a door of faith – how people’s hearts have mellowed to the gospel message, how the gospel is gaining creditability, how faith has grown (even if it’s only the missionary whose faith has grown).
But what about us? It’s not just returning missionaries that get distracted. When we are sharing about a ministry that we are involved in, do we talk about the small issues of culture, lifestyle, obstacles or do we talk about what God has done and how he is working in people’s lives?
We may feel if these are the only two things we can report then we would have nothing to say. Yet God is at work even when we don’t recognise it. God may first be working in the lives of the leaders before he works in the lives of those we are trying to reach. Some days we may be a little too self-focused to notice what God is doing.