By Todd Hill
The passerby snatched the pamphlet from my hand, took a few steps away and proceeded to tear it into pieces. She conveyed utter disgust as she tore apart the paper I had just handed to her. I found myself feeling highly uncomfortable, knowing that the same disgust she felt toward the gospel, she felt equally toward me at this moment. As I looked away awkwardly for the next passerby, I felt a lump in my throat as I once again offered, “Would you like a ‘blessing’ to read?”
Many at New Life have already heard about our ’16 summer youth missions trip to London with Serge’s “London Evangelism and Prayer Week”. The evangelism experiences were amazing and very challenging.
It was on our last full day of ministry that we stood in a busy shopping plaza, when I felt that I had been stretched beyond my limits. I was tired. It had been a long, exhausting week. Beyond physical exhaustion, I found my spirit was extremely weary. I was tired of being rejected – over and over and over. I was tired of people seeing me with my stack of Gospel tracts and going out of their way to avoid walking past me. I had had enough.
It was in this moment of utter weakness that I heard God speak to me. It was not an audible voice, but it was one of those times when I felt clear that God wanted to communicate something to me.
I stuck another tract out in front of a passerby and waited for the typical awkward rejection. In that moment, God said two things to me. First, He said that He was building His Kingdom through the efforts of the many faithful saints distributing His Word, and that His Word would not return without accomplishing His purpose for It.
The second thing I understood was the most challenging. He said that His primary goal was not for me to feel comfortable. Rather, my experience of rejection as I did His work provided the smallest taste of what His Son Jesus experienced when He was rejected. God wanted to shape me, and our team, to be more like His Son by giving us a shared experience with Him. God was lovingly molding us into the image of Jesus, and He was using this experience – an experience we would not have chosen – to do so.
As our team walked through the doors of Philadelphia International Airport, greeted by the stifling July humidity, we arrived home with a new grid for our lives. When confronted with our tendency to use comfort as our measuring stick for happiness and success, we will be reminded that comfort can come at a cost. When we ferociously pursue the comforts of life as our highest goal, we miss out on deep times of worship and the mighty sound of God’s voice. However, when we stand in front of a stranger who angrily rips up a tract (and our very beliefs) in our face, we will remember in our discomfort, that we have already received the greatest comfort of all through our Savior, Jesus Christ. And His power is surely made perfect in our weakness.