Leaving the Ninety-Nine

This weekend, my husband and I attended the 30th-anniversary celebration for China Partner, an organization that trains and equips pastors in China. Erik, the president, has carried on this ministry from his father, Werner, who was born in China and whose parents were missionaries in a place called Jiangxi province before China closed its doors to missionaries.

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Erik’s grandfather’s journal records that he led ten people to the Lord during the twenty-five years they ministered in China. This weekend we heard from Chinese pastors from Jiangxi that in the same place today there are 530 000 followers of Christ.

Ten people may not seem notable to our western way of thinking, their ministry may even have appeared a failure. But not in God’s economy. God will leave the ninety-nine to look for the one. That is how precious each of us is to him.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” (Matthew 18:12-13)

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Erik’s grandparents left Germany—left the ninety-nine—to go to China. The ten cherished souls who found Jesus in Jiangxi were forever changed, and so were their families. You see, in God’s economy, it doesn’t matter if the returns seem small, or if the work takes years and years. God sees the whole timeline, and eternity too—the forever place he made possible for us through Jesus’ death on the cross.

This is the Good News Erik’s grandparents went to China to share. It’s the same Good News their son carried back to China years later, the same gospel that Erik continues to minister in China and that these Chinese pastors also teach to this day.

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Erik and his father, Werner, receiving scrolls from the Chinese pastors of Jiangxi province.

Can’t you see it? The impact of one faithful couple—their hopes and dreams coming to fruition long after they entered eternity?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

There will be times when it appears that the work of our hands is fruitless. In our present circumstances, position, or place we find ourselves, it may not appear that we are making a difference at all and that our efforts are wasted. But you can be sure that anything done in God’s name and strength will bear fruit. Whether we see it or not, we can trust God for the outcome.

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.” (Isaiah 54:4) 

Like Erik’s grandparents, you may never see the fullness of your labor. You may never know the outcome of your faithfulness this side of heaven, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t bear an impact. How amazed do you think Erik’s grandparents would be to hear about the 530 000 souls who know Jesus today in the province they ministered in 94 years prior? So it is with us. Make no mistake, your life’s choices, work, and faithfulness matter and multiply far beyond what you can see.

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“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:11)

The next time you are tempted to give up on something or someone—or even give up on yourself—remember that this is never God’s posture toward us. He never turns his back on people. He never gives up. He never lets us go. His love offer is always available. The invitation to come to Jesus is for everyone and is only a prayer away.

You may feel weary in your work or relationships right now. You may feel like giving up. If you are discouraged, remember this truth: you are precious to God. Everyone and everything matters to Him. He sees it all—the past, present, and future all at once—and is in control. He made a way for you through His Son. Entrust your life and your troubles to Jesus and let Him be Lord of your life.

 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

______________________

  1. In what area(s) do you feel discouraged?
  2. Hand it over to God trusting him for both strength and the outcome.

For more information about the ministry of China Partner visit: http://www.chinapartner.org

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4 Replies to “Leaving the Ninety-Nine”

  1. Mel,

    Thanks for sharing this awesome story of God’s perspective and His faithfulness.

    It was so awesome to have you a part fo this very special weekend; thanks for coming. You guys are such amazing friends. My girls and “boys” absolute love you. We definitely have to figure out a time to all come up to visit your cottage sometime soon.

    Trust you made it home safely. Until next time….much love,

    Erik Bürklin 林铭立 President

    Serving the Church in China

    8191 SouthPark Lane, Suite 112 Littleton, Colorado 80120, USA Mobile: 303-875-9493 Email: eburklin@chinapartner.org

    HE>i “He is greater than I” (John 3:30)

    >

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