Editor’s note: Sarah Vander Ark was the Communications & Administrative Intern at To Every Tribe during the summer of 2014. The following is a blog post she wrote after reading David Sitton’s book, Reckless Abandon.
How attainable is change on our own? Without Christ we can do nothing, including change. As I replay the pages of David Sitton’s book Reckless Abandon in my mind, considering the countless stories of unreached tribes turning to Jesus, I am reminded of this truth: God can take the hardest, most hostile hearts, and change them into hearts full of love, joy, hope, and, ultimately, Jesus.
David writes,“It was a thrill to walk through the village shaking hands and happily hugging people who only a few years before were throwing rocks, if not swinging machetes, and threatening our lives.” This is profound, miraculous, and true transformation. Although I often wish I myself could simply change someone’s heart, I know only Jesus can accomplish that. However, I am given a mission to be used in the Lord’s process of changing hearts! It’s amazing that rebels like me are called to share the best news in the universe to people who have never heard it. Does Christ need you and I to do anything? Absolutely not! He’s God! He needs nothing from us, but he allows us to partake in the advance of His kingdom, and in the joy of telling the world of His greatness. Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Why would anyone consider the great commission a sacrifice? Sacrifice implies “giving up” something that is yours, or something you’re entitled to. But the reality is we have nothing. All we are, and all we have, belongs to Christ. We are His to use! Even in leaving the comforts of culture unto death, being a missionary isn’t a sacrifice, and neither is sending missionaries to go financially. Planting, watering, and seeing God give growth in hearts is a privilege and honor. Our great king commissioned us to do something we don’t deserve to do. But because of His great love, he allows us to partake in His desire and ability to bring people from every nation to himself.
Reckless Abandon is an honest book, describing the frequent difficulties of being a pioneer church planter. I cringed as I read words describing eminent danger and trying journeys. However, this book is bursting with the constant reminders: “Jesus is worth it!” and “Reckless is right when the cause is Christ!”
David doesn’t solely dwell on the hardships and trials of being a missionary. He also shares stories displaying the immense joys of missions. What a beautiful thing it is to have the opportunity to share hope to those who had none! Few things bring Christians more delight than sharing the good news, and witnessing someone turn to Christ after receiving it.
We don’t accidently love people who hate us and the gospel. We don’t accidently become selfless in sojourning to unreached lands. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, enabling and empowering us to go contrary to the “wisdom” of the world. David Sitton willingly went and encountered tribes who threatened his very life, people who loathed him and his message with a burning passion. But his motto remained the same, to “love the hate out of them.” This is only possible through Jesus Christ, who loved us first, and provided a perfect picture of loving those who hate us. Jesus loved those who despised and rejected him, sinners like you and I. This concept is so unlike what the world teaches us.
The world considers missions as “reckless” and “foolish.” Reckless Abandon reminds us that it is accurate to be “reckless” and “foolish” when we’re doing it for the name of Jesus Christ. It’s time for Christians to abandon the desires of sinful flesh and pride. It’s time for Christians to fully surrender and cling to Jesus. It’s time for Christians to live a life of reckless abandon for Him by obeying scripture in either sending or going. It’s time that Christians further long for the fame of their coming king!
Editor’s Note: Walt Barrett is the Director of the Missionary Sending Agency for To Every Tribe. This article is from an update on his recent visit to our field based missionary staff in Papua New Guinea.
Perhaps you remember that when I wrote last I was in Australia on my way to visit To Every Tribe’s earliest field of ministry: Papua New Guinea (PNG). What follows is the text of an email that I sent to a friend just before returning to the US. Hopefully it will give you a sense of what this trip was like and how it impacted me.
“Hi John – so good to hear from you! Yes, I’m in Goroka, Papua New Guinea (PNG) with Alex Sisson, our field leader here. I leave the day after tomorrow, having had two full weeks on the ground with Alex, Kelley and the kids as well as 2-3 days travel time each way – so all in all a fairly long trip. But an amazingly excellent one! It would take too long to tell you everything, but I truly cannot imagine how the whole experience could have been better. It is helping me much more clearly understand the situation on this needy mission field – and I have immense respect for those who serve here.