The Challenges in Europe (3 of 6) Discouragement

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Another challenge that is often faced in Europe (and around the world) is discouragement.

For some reason, we are extremely concerned about numbers and visible fruit.  We usually judge success by how many souls are saved, how many churches are started, and how many are in attendance.  We fail to judge our ministry by how faithful we are are to get the gospel out, how many tracts are distributed, how many disciples are trained, how bold and how holy those in our churches are, or how many men are trained.  When we don’t see the results we want to see, we get discouraged and want to quit.

I know from my own experience as a missionary to Europe and talking to many missionaries in Europe that discouragement is a big problem.  It is hard to feel good about what is going on when no one shows up to your service, or when people you have investment a great deal of your life into walk away, or when you pass out 40,000 invitations to a special service and no one attends from the literature.

Here are some things to consider:

First, discouragement is a common problem.  

  • Jeremiah got discouraged. Jeremiah 20:14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
  • Paul got discouraged with this life. 1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Second, we can get discouraged even when things are going well.

  • Elijah got discouraged right after a great victory on Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
  • Jonah got discouraged after the entire city of Nineveh repented. John 4:3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. 

Third, God is often doing more than we can see; we just get impatient.

  • At Philippi, all the missionaries had was Lydia and her household, a demon-possessed girl, and then they got thrown in jail, but out of that church came the faithful supporters of Paul time and again.
  • Here is what Paul wrote to the Philippian church. Philippians 1:14-15 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
  • We must remember that it has been a very long time since true gospel preaching was heard in many places in Europe and that many false ideas have taken root over the years.  We are not going to break of the hard ground over night.  It is going to take patient sowing, plowing, watering, and praying.

Fourth, we need to focus on the process, not the product.

  • How many people are you witnessing to?
  • How much literature are you getting out?
  • How much outreach are you doing?
  • How faithful are you to follow up and disciple those God has given you?
  • How much are you doing with the opportunities God has given you?
  • What you are trying and how hard are you working?
  • Often we complain about how hard things are, but we are not really being faithful to get the gospel out.  We have gotten discouraged and allowed our discouragement to keep us from being obedient to sow the seed.

Fifth, the challenges we face should cause us to spend more time praying and seeking God’s face.

  • Without Jesus, we can do nothing.
  • We’re in a spiritual battle that is won with spiritual weapons.
  • Only He can melt the hearts of stone, break the bars asunder, and built a church in a place that has long been the stronghold of Satan.

The exciting things is that as we focus on individuals and the blessings rather than the numbers, we will see that God is at work.  People told me that door-to-door does not work, but we had people come to the church from door-to-door.  People told me that you could not start a church in a certain area, but there is a church there.  People will tell you all kinds of things, but if you just keep your eyes on the Lord and His Word, you will find that He is doing a work.

It is all about your attitude.  You often see what you want to see.  If you compare yourself to others, you will get discouraged.  If you compare your numbers with someone else’s numbers, you will get discouraged.  But if you can keep your eyes on Jesus and be faithful to sow the seed and focus on those who are open, you will see that He is doing a work.  It may not be as fast or as big as you want, but the gospel still saves, the Holy Spirit still convicts, and in His time and His way, He will give the increase.  We just need to be faithful to do our part and leave the rest up to God.

Stay tuned for more…

Read part 1 and part 2 here.

2 comments

  1. Jeffrey Vaughn

    Really good post. I agree that discouragement is a problem for everyone. But missionaries, especially, have to deal with discouragement more than the average. First, they do not have the vast amount of fellowship that we have. Second, they must “produce”. Unfortunately, missionaries go on deputation telling everyone that they plan to plant churches. I think that the goal should be to be faithful to live and preach the gospel. But, in our world, people want a quick return on their investment; so missionaries must try to come up with something to report.
    That is the problem with the way we do missions. So many churches that support missionaries only spend one service with them and that is it. When funds get tight then love should keep the support coming, but when budgets need to be cut – production is viewed. If we really know each other – then we know that the missionary is being faithful regardless of the results and we pray and give more. We contact more and visit more.
    But the lies of satan that have been spread for so long make it difficult to gain quick victories. I think we should go door to door – but it is still going to take time. We must develop a relationship with people so that they can learn to trust us and God’s Word. They have been deceived by people that they trust for so long – it is difficult.

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