Barnabas. A Gideon?
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Gideons International is one of the most productive missions groups of modern times. Much of its success is due to its decision to fully embrace a connection with missions.
The Gideons, belonging to a missions organization, act under a threefold directive. Their duty is to “Pray, give, go.” This is not an artificial, manmade formula. It is a Bible-based missions mandate.
Scripture’s role model in this area is Barnabas. Though not a Gideon, he did all three. From his example we learn what it means to pray, give, and go.
Acts 13:1-2 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers; Barnabas, Simeon that was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were ministering to the Lord, and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to.”`
Antioch was the first truly missionary church. It was a praying church. It is no coincidence a church with praying leaders and praying members became the first missionary congregation.
Barnabas, named first on the church’s list of leaders, was among those who ministered to the Lord. He was a man of prayer.
Gideons, never forget the vital link between prayer and your mission. We enjoy telling how modern missions began. William Carey convinced fellow Baptist pastors in his area to establish a missions society to promote world missions.
An oft neglected and rarely told fact is, before the missions society was founded, these Baptist pastors had regularly met for prayer for 8 years. Even after 8 years of praying, Carey was barely able to persuade them to support missions. I’m convinced it would have never happened without these years of prior praying to help prepare the way.
Missionary James Fraser (1871-1937) is called the Apostle to the Lisu. He pleaded with believers to pray for the Lisu, the people God had put on his heart.
Fraser wanted agonizing prayers from every corner of the globe to focus on the Lisu, “I am not asking you to just help in prayer as a sort of sideline, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people on your shoulders.”
Arriving among the Lisu, Fraser found they were divided into two groups ( North and South. He lived and worked among the South Lisu, but spent half of every work day praying for the North Lisu. When revival came to the Lisu, it came to the North.
Gideons, first and foremost, pray! Barnabas prayed, William Carey prayed, James Fraser prayed. Gideons, do the same.
Acts 4:37 (Barnabas) sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
In expanding Christ’s kingdom, Barnabas prayed (Acts 13:1-2). He also gave. Praying and giving go together. The more you pray about Gideon work, the softer your hearts will grow toward unbelievers, and the more you will give.
For the Gideons to succeed, prayer has to come first. Money must quickly follow. Finances are necessary. Generous spending must undergird the effort.
William Carey could not have succeeded alone. His main supporter and helper for the first 22 years of his missionary career in India was his dear friend, Pastor Andrew Fuller, whose memoirs recall the beginning, when delicate negotiations were under way to determine how Carey would be supported.
“Our undertaking to India, on its commencement, appeared to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored. While we were deliberating, Carey said, “I will go down if you will hold the rope.” Before Carey went he took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit to this effect, that while we lived we should never let go the rope. Understand me. There was great responsibility attached to us who began the business.” Carey needed their prayers and their gifts.
For Gideon efforts to succeed, we begin with prayer. We multiply and extend our prayers when we give, thereby making more Bibles available.
In the giving we become for sure deeply grounded in missions advocacy among the Gideons. Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.
Do you feel lukewarm about the Gideons? Invest in it more heavily. Are you lackadaisical about the Great Commission? As we give our money, we will develop a long-term interest in all missions causes, including the Gideons.
When we ask for people to give to the Gideons, we should not feel like beggars who are asking donors to part with their hard-earned money in order to provide handouts for other people’s personal gain. We are instead inspiring people to invest in a cause that matters, in a mission of eternal consequence.
When we appeal for giving to the Gideons, we provide God’s people a chance to invest in advancing God’s kingdom, to send forth missionaries of the cross. These emissaries represent God’s work, a work that cannot go on without God’s servants doing it, and cannot be done by these servants without financial support.
Acts 13:3 After they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them (Paul and Barnabas), they sent them off.
In expanding Christ’s kingdom, Barnabas prayed (Acts 13:1-2) and gave (Acts 4:37). He also went. Praying, giving, and going belong together.
The more we pray about Gideon work, the more likely we are to give. The more we pray and give, the more likely we are to go.
The more we go, seeing firsthand the world’s overwhelming needs, the more likely we are to pray and give. For the Gideons to succeed, all of its members must pray, all must give, all must go.
As long as people remain in darkness, we are duty bound to go carry the light of Scripture to them. Oswald Smith’s driving motto was an unanswerable question, “Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice before everyone has heard it once?”
Nothing is wrong with people hearing of Jesus a thousand times, unless at the same time we never once try to take the story to those who have never heard.
To have God’s heart, all must pray, give, and go, joining God’s bucket-brigade conveying living water to the thirsty. I was surprised when I saw an antique water bucket used in fire-bucket brigades. Its bottom was as round as a basketball, not flat. Each time I sat it down, it fell over, it wouldn’t stand up.
After letting it drop three times, I got the message. When there’s a fire going on, you don’t put your water bucket down. Gideons, an everlasting fire’s going on. We need to be in God’s fire-bucket brigade, delivering the water of life.
By praying, we draw power from God’s well of anointing. By giving we pass buckets hand to hand, buying Bibles to extinguish flames of lostness. After we pray and give, the whole fire brigade is useless unless we go and stand at the end of the bucket brigade and throw water on the fire.
There has to be contact with the people we seek to save. Someone has to deliver the Word, and the Living Water it contains, in person.
Pray, give, go. Do you say God has not spoken to your heart about this? Put your ear down to the Bible, and you will hear His voice loud and clear.
Do you not care? Put your ear down to a spinning globe, and you will hear the voices of the vast majority who are heading into a Christless eternity.