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Fishers of Men

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Sunday, 05 April 2015 in Uncategorized
 

"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19 (NIV)
 
"I spent forty minutes talking to her about the Bible," a resident named Dora* said to me last week about a conversation she had just had with another resident, "and she wouldn't change her mind or believe."
 
As Dora shared this story, with a hint of frustration in her voice, she didn't realize that her offhand comment was an answer to over two years of prayer.  Our desire in coming to Paraguay was to see the Lord raise up His disciples who would then go out and make other disciples.  With this objective in mind, over the past five weeks, David has been meeting weekly with a group of residents for discipleship and spiritual "boot camp" training.  Dora had only attended three of the sessions and had not been the most vocal participant, which left David wondering how much had been sinking in.  David had also been frustrated by trying to get the residents to actually apply what they were learning during the week, and frankly, if he had to pick someone, he would not have thought Dora would be the one who would witness to her colleagues.  So when she talked about reaching out to her colleagues and sharing about Jesus, it reminded David that he shouldn't presume to know whose heart God is working in and no matter how long someone has been a believer, the Holy Spirit can still breath new life resulting in a renewed passion for sharing Jesus with others.
 
When Jesus called the first disciples, he was pretty clear on what that meant.  In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  When we commit to following Jesus, through his power, He makes us into bearers of the good news and ambassadors for Him (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Jesus reiterates that principle in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and again in Acts 1:8.  So when Dora made the effort, despite a busy physician's schedule, being a single mother, and living in a culture where studying the Bible, listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit is not considered "normal", Jesus began working in her heart to give her both the desire and the ability to share the Good News of His salvation.

If what Jesus said is true in that when we follow Him He will make us fishers of men, why don't we see this sharing of the gospel more in our own lives and in the lives of others who claim to be His followers?  Perhaps we don't really understand what our primary purpose is when we decide to follow Jesus, as mentioned in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.  Maybe, like Dora, we shared the gospel with someone, only to have them reject it, and we got discouraged and gave up, forgetting that people didn't believe Jesus himself when He spoke to them about God's kingdom (John 10:25).  Or maybe we've tried to usurp his role and forgotten that God only calls us to be obedient and share and not assume the burden of changing the other person's heart, which is the Holy Spirit's job (John 16:8-9).  Or maybe we don't know how to share the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15).  Sometimes, we may not be willing to pay the cost of following Jesus (Luke 14:25-33).  At other times we allow sin to entangle us and distract us (Hebrews 12:1) or we don't truly have God's heart and love for those that are lost (1 Timothy 2:3-4).  Whatever the reason may be, God doesn't condemn us as His children (Romans 8:1-2) when we fall short, but is waiting for us to turn to Him and claim His promise in Phillipians 4:13, that He will work in us to will and to act according to His good purpose and make us fishers of men.  

As we've mentioned before, just being overseas and wearing the job title of missionary does not give us an exempt pass from the difficulties of sharing the gospel or even our God-story. If anything the new language and cultural barriers make that even harder. This encounter with Dora was a reminder that we too need to push ourselves each day beyond what's comfortable. Go out on the street and meet the neighbor that you haven't even seen in the year and half that you've lived there.  Don't just wave at the elderly widow as you pass by, stop and talk to her.  Invite the interruptions to your day, and keep trying to make connections with the other parents at the kids' school, even if you feel like the odd-man-out. The reality is that in light of a faith that is worthless without the resurrection, what are we doing just walking through the motions of life? If we are not proclaiming the truth of our miraculous salvation and the love of a God that threw it all out there for us, then we are no better off than the guy who looks in the mirror and then walks away forgetting what he looks like (James 1:23-24). God is calling all of us to be a new generation that wakes up and responds to his call to go and make disciples.

Please continue to pray that God would raise up fishers of men in Paraguay.  Pray for us as we disciple those around us and ask the Lord to fill them with the Holy Spirit so that they would boldly proclaim the message of God's salvation through Christ Jesus.

In Him,
 
David, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Lucas & Isabel

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