Compelled by the Urgency of Open Doors :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Compelled by the Urgency of Open Doors

Sarah Hartwig
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On February 22, 2013, missionaries in the Far North Region of Cameroon evacuated within 72 hours of receiving word that the Boko Haram had kidnapped a French family living in the same region. For months the missionaries had been vaguely aware that the Boko Haram’s terrorist activity from neighboring Nigeria was bleeding across the desert borders to their area, posing significant danger to themselves. With a sense that their time in Cameroon was short, the family stepped up efforts to evangelize the nearby Muslim villages prayerfully and systematically. Without knowing that their departure was imminent, they met with a small group of believers on Sunday for worship and a baptismal service. Five days later, the missionaries left the country.

Time was short. The door for the Gospel was open. People were without Christ. The missionaries were stirred to action by the urgency of the situation, an urgency that was even greater than they knew.

Though we do not know exact timelines, we see many countries that are open for just a short window of time. The country is not plagued by war, religious workers are allowed to enter, the country is relatively stable, and then in a moment that changes. The opportunity to enter as a missionary is lost. Things like a military coup, war, or economic instability shut the country down.

Myanmar, Lebanon, and Taiwan are just a few examples of these potentially dramatic changes.

Myanmar was open until a military coup in February 2021, and then missionaries had to leave. It is possible to get a religious worker visa to enter Lebanon, but the economic instability and refugee crisis could shut this country down quickly. Taiwan is currently open to gospel workers, but China is increasingly eyeing this island nation and making power grabs to bring it back under the mainland’s authority.

Do we let the urgency of these open doors move us to action? If we knew for certain how long an opportunity was open, would we move with greater speed in our educational preparations? Would this help us to more accurately determine the level of education needed to minister effectively on the field? Does a consideration that a window of time is closing move us to greater intentionality in our language studies? Are we intentional in moving towards marriage? Or could God be calling some of us to minister as single missionaries because time is short? Are we motivated by seeing the urgency of an opportunity to pray that God would send forth laborers? Have we offered ourselves to the Lord to meet the need?

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:36-37, NASB).