FIRST-PERSON: Never forgotten

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) – When companies decide where in the world to market their products, they want to get “the most bang for their buck.” Right now, that means China: 1.4 billion people with rising levels of discretionary income.

It’s a good thing the Kingdom of God is not a company, isn’t it? Who would ever hear the Gospel or witness the reality of Christ if we evaluated our actions with a cost analysis? Instead, life in the Kingdom of God is measured by this one value: Everything done in the name of Christ has eternal value.

In other words, we don’t measure the perceived results before we act. We act out of obedience to Christ because we know that everything done in His name has eternal value. Our acts of faithfulness in following Christ are never forgotten by God.

That mindset is what caused a young Wheaton College graduate named Jim Elliot, along with four friends, to camp on a sandbar along the Curaray River in Ecuador in 1956. Their goal was to make contact with a nearby village of the Huaorani (Auca) people – a few dozen people – who lived in the rain forest that bordered the river.

Who would do that? In the 1950s, there probably weren’t many people who could find Ecuador on an unlabeled map of South America. And you could probably count the number of people who knew about the Huaorani people on two hands. But when Jim Elliot and his friends learned about this microscopic group of souls who didn’t know Jesus, they decided to invest their lives right there.

And here’s what else they knew: The value didn’t come at the end; the value wasn’t dependent on whether the Huaorani accepted Christ; the value didn’t even depend on whether they, the five young missionaries, lived or died. Why? Because they were serving Christ – and that’s all that mattered. They were sowing seed for the Kingdom of God that would bear fruit in ways no one could imagine, regardless of the outcome of their trip into Ecuador.

As you likely know, the five men were attacked by the Huaorani and speared to death on the sandbar where they had camped. But this event galvanized the world’s attention. Life magazine did a photo essay on the five young men and how they lost their lives. Missionary organizations in Latin America received new interest in their work. There was a surge of young people who committed to mission work. Giving to mission organizations increased. Family members of the slain missionaries returned to Ecuador and reached the Huaorani people, leading many of them to Christ – including some involved in the missionaries’ murders. Books were written and movies were made – all because some young men understood that God sees and uses what we do for Him whether we see the results or not.

How easy would it have been for those five young men and their families not to move to Ecuador to try to reach a tiny group of people for Christ? It would have been just as easy as …

  • Not getting up early on a Saturday morning to attend a prayer meeting.
  • Not volunteering to be an assistant in a 4-year-old Sunday school class.
  • Not signing up to take a meal to a family who are experiencing illness.
  • Not turning off the television to complete your daily Bible reading.

In other words, it’s awfully easy to say, “Why me? What good will it do? What difference will it make? Who will know?”

We don’t know the ultimate answers to most of those questions, but we do know the answer to the last one: God knows. And God cares. Everything done for Christ matters and has eternal ramifications. Nothing done for Christ is done in vain.

This life and what we do for Christ is never forgotten. Therefore, don’t think your life for Christ doesn’t matter. It does, even in the smallest of ways. Jim Elliot, the missionary who died in Ecuador, reminds us: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Everything matters; nothing is forgotten by God.

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