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The “missions” emphasis in this issue was by editorial request. Not necessarily a personal mission work angle. Yet it is interesting how all has “come together” (may we say) for such an emphasis. Let us explain.

The author-unknown poem “My Friend . . . ?” found in this issue was submitted some time ago. We were hesitant to use it, at least without some words of explanation. We happened to think of the poem while reading the e-mail writing below, together with the two devotional writings “Ambassadors For Christ” (by Pastor John Klatt) and “Mission Work–God’s Work” (by Pastor James Albrecht).

It is surely to be granted that the poem’s “spiritual shock treatment” idea is hardly proper motivation for personal Christian witnessing. For one thing, as Pastor Klatt brings out in his article, the importance of the human agent who brings the gospel is truly secondary to the power of the gospel itself.

Interestingly, however, both writers–without consultation with the editor or, as far as we know, with one another–have included “true life” illustrations of individuals who were brought to faith by reluctant and/or unwitting human agents of the Spirit of God working through the Word.

In short, “Ambassadors For Christ” and “Mission Work–God’s Work,” coupled with the “THOUGHTS AFTER TODAY’S SERMON” piece below, are fitting words of explanation to “set the stage” for the compelling thoughts of the “My Friend . . . ?” poem.

In the words of a more familiar “poem”:

    Let none hear you idly saying,
    "There is nothing I can do,"
    While the souls of men are dying
    And the Master calls for you.
    Take the task He gives you gladly,
    Let His work your pleasure be;
    Answer quickly when He calleth, 
    "Here am I, send me, send me!"

Through His enabling Spirit, may the Heavenly Father give each of us as His believing children the courage and confidence to follow through with the gospel-oriented encouragement of these holy words: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV).

* “THOUGHTS AFTER TODAY’S SERMON” (What follows was posted on CLC e-mail. Like the “My Friend” poem elsewhere in this issue, the thoughts add a perspective on personal mission work we all need–but perhaps don’t like–to hear. The writer is Robin Vogsland, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico. We copy with permission.)

Our discussion of this morning’s sermon brought up some thoughts:

When we Christians think of bearing witness to our neighbors and acquaintances, we are so often so reluctant to do anything. Inertia rules. We think of the stubbornness of our neighbor or of their dedication to some philosophy or lust or religion. We are in intimidated by the vastness of the task and the daunting, seemingly impervious facade of resistance presented by the unbeliever. We worry that our little candle is just too small to light so great a darkness.

But that is not how God sees it, and surely that is not how He wants us to think of it. God does not see a body of resistance that must be overcome by a tremendous frontal assault. (No one is argued into the kingdom of heaven.) God sees only a dry husk of a spiritually dead person who is utterly powerless.

So God whispers to us: “Just draw close in love to that person I have sent to you; just lean your puny candle flame a little closer to that dry husk. Even a short time of continuous exposure to your weak flame can raise that dry material to the kindling point (remember that the flame on your candle is from ME); so just speak purposefully to them for even a few minutes. And when it catches fire, the mental and spiritual resistance will be burned up from the inside by My Holy Spirit, rather than being overcome by any external force. It is not by might or by power, but by My Spirit.”

We cannot see the dryness of the dry husk, but God can. Therefore, we should not try to judge the likelihood of success or hold back from speaking because “success” seems too low. God’s program for us is that we heedlessly lean our little God-given candle to as many as cross our path. Then we can step back and let God finish what He has started.

Our Lord is a consuming fire!

Lord, help our unbelief. Amen.