MARK 16:15
Go, Gideons, Go
A message prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

For The Twelve, “Go” became the manifesto governing their lives. They all had jobs, interests, and hobbies, but henceforth every concern yielded to, “Go.”

We have no right to sit idly by with folded arms, indifferent to the world’s woes. Don Hammer, former professor at Midwestern Seminary, on mission in a war-torn Asian country where Christians are persecuted, called home, saying, “It’s a 9-1-1 world out here and no one is answering the phone!”

Jesus’ directive, “Go,” is His way of saying we need to be answering the phone. Christ-followers are supposed to be front-line emergency response units for humanity’s lostness.

Thank you, Gideons, for responding to the call. Your distribution of Scripture hugely matters. Franklin Graham, watching refugees arrive, saw a 5-year-old Rwandan girl clutching a bloody blanket. Her whole city had been macheted to death. She had lost everyone she knew. The girl was rocking back and forth, singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I’m glad someone brought a Bible to Rwanda, and the Gospel reached this little girl. It was all she had left to hold on to.

Our church buildings are not dormitories for sleep nor primarily schools for learning nor hospitals for the sick. Above all else, they are barracks for training. We weld together not as blocks of ice to sit still, but as army units to go forth.

Omnipresent penetration is the goal. We must set our sights on planting a church and placing a Bible in practical reach of everyone on the planet.

In “go” I’m living the adventure of a lifetime. For me it has become the heroic crusade, a noble, epic saga. I’m grateful God gave me a cause worth giving my life for, and He let me live on earth long enough to find it. Too few find it.

Most people, thinking superficially, believe they want comfort and ease. Much discontent in our lives is due to considering life shallowly. From our deepest, innermost essence a more meaningful voice cries out, trying to be heard.

Sadly, many believers, taking their cue from unbelievers, live at a shallow level of existence. They wonder why life is boring or meaningless, yet give themselves to superficial pursuits. Believers, heed the Holy Spirit in our own breast. The heroic call, “Go,” can lift us out of a humdrum, mediocre existence.

By listening to God’s heroic call rising from deep within, we learn what it means to really live. Life unfolds many paradoxes, one being, the life you’ve always dreamed of lies hidden in the mission you’ve always dreaded.

When Dr. Alexander Duff, veteran missionary to India, came home to Scotland to die, he stood before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and made an appeal for others to go to India, but no one responded. At the lectern, he had a fainting spell and was carried off the platform. As a doctor bent over him, examining his heart, Duff opened his eyes and asked, “Where am I? Where am I?”

The doctor told him, “Lie still, your heart is very weak,” but the old warrior refused to stay down. “I must finish my appeal. Take me back. I haven’t finished my appeal yet.” The doctor repeated, “Lie still, you are too weak to go back.”

The old missionary struggled to his feet, determination overcoming weakness. With the doctor on one side and the moderator on the other, Dr. Duff again mounted the platform.

“When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers for India, hundreds of young men respond; but when King Jesus calls, no one goes.” He paused, but still no one responded. “Is it true that Scotland has no more sons to give for India?”

Again he paused, but still no one responded. “Very well,” he concluded, “if Scotland has no more young men to send to India, then, old and decrepit though I am, I will go back, and though I cannot preach, I can lie down on the shores of the Ganges and die, in order to let the peoples of India know that there is at least one man in Scotland who cares enough for their souls to give his life for them.”

At this moment, the meeting exploded. Young men began springing to their feet, crying out, “I’ll go! I’ll go!” After the famous missionary passed away, many of these young men journeyed to India, to invest their lives as missionaries.

How are you and I doing in this matter of going? When did you last put a Bible in the hand of someone who had never touched one before?

When our Lord fed 5000, it would have been bizarre had His disciples only kept feeding the front row over and over again, while never going to back rows. Had first rows been fed repeatedly, while last rows were neglected, those in the back would have eventually stood up and complained, protesting their being left out, “Jesus, back here. We’re hungry, too. It isn’t fair to feed only the front row.”

The call to go is God’s way of making sure we care for the back row, for those who do not cry for themselves. We talk about a second blessing; they’ve not heard of the first yet. We speak of Christ’s second coming; they don’t know about His first coming. We must go carry the Bible, the bread of life, to the world’s back rows.

Imagine, if you will, an estate. The Master has to leave, but tells his servants he will return, and while he’s gone, they are to cultivate the entire estate.

They begin near the house, beautifying the lawn, garden and flower-bed. Next year, as weeds begin to grow, they again work near the house, perfecting the lawn, garden, and flower-bed.

One day a servant recalls Master’s orders and says, “I must go out into the field. Master told us to cultivate the whole estate.” Fellow workers try to discourage him, “We can’t spare you here. Weeds keep growing close to the house. Too much needs to be done nearby.”

Despite their protests, he leaves and begins working in a far corner of the estate. Soon two others remember the Master’s command and make their way to other far reaches of the fields.

One day the Master returned unannounced. He is thrilled at the perfectly trimmed lawn, garden, and flower-bed near His house, but as he strolls out to examine the rest of his estate, his heart sinks. It is wilderness, weeds, and marsh.

Obviously, little effort was made to cultivate it. In the distance he sees one worker laboring alone in the midst of wilderness. A different direction he sees the second worker, way off by himself, trying to tame tall weeds. Another direction he sees the third worker, all alone, battling an impossible marsh.

After richly rewarding the three servants, he returns to the house, where the other workers are expecting great rewards. But they quickly tell by the look on Master’s face he is not happy with them. “Are you not going to reward us? Aren’t your lawn, garden, and flower-bed beautiful? Why are you disappointed?”

“Because you forgot my orders. I didn’t tell you to work same areas again and again, year after year. I told you to bring the entire estate under cultivation. You didn’t do it, and even tried to discourage the three who did, thus no reward.”

What are we going to do this year to help bring God’s whole estate under cultivation? Where will we go to drive back wilderness? Where will we hand-deliver a Bible to a Bible-less person?

We all have to share in fulfilling this duty. A Canadian Customs official, thumbing through my passport, noticed stamps from many countries. She asked, “What is your occupation?” I replied, “Pastor.” She then asked, “Does it require you to travel the world?” I immediately answered, “Yes.” Amen. I consider myself under direct orders from the King of kings and Lord of lords to spend the rest of my life traversing the whole world.

How many stamps do you have in your Passport? If asked what you do, and you replied, “I’m a Gideon,” how would you answer if asked, “Does it require you to travel the world?” You should be able to say immediately, “Yes.”

The mission of every Christian is missions. The mission purpose of every Gideon is, widespread Bible distribution. Let’s fulfill our reason for existing.

Dr. Duff’s appeal still echoes. Will we respond? Our lawn, garden, and flower-bed look great. What about the rest of the estate?

Back rows wait to be fed. Will we in the front rows go feed them? It’s a 9-1-1 world out there, are we answering the phone? Untold millions are still untold.