All Things To All People - By Treg McCoy
How can we reach people more effectively around us? How can we show the world God's love and the full magnitude of what Christ did for us on the cross?
The Body of Christ, like the world itself, is fascinating and diverse. Having had the privilege of seeing many believers at work around the world, most serving in small congregations and ministries, I've seen how despite the different personalities and cultural backgrounds, the Spirit of God takes people and forms in them a common characteristic -- living for others instead of living for themselves, being a servant to all. They become whatever is needed to reach those that the Lord has placed around them.
The Apostle Paul - the greatest missionary of all time wrote, "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Cor. 9:22 NIV). In this scripture Paul was sharing the tactics behind his missionary heart. He not only shared the way he would go about ministering the gospel to a broad diversity of people, but he also gave us guidelines on how we should mirror ourselves after him. The goal is not only that we will become more effective in our ministering and reach as many people as possible but that we will also show the love of Christ in and through our actions.
How can we expect people from all different cultures and backgrounds to listen to the gospel message if we are not willing to live among them and learn their culture to understand them more fully? We need to feel for their circumstances and to share in the things that oppress them. Paul never compromised the gospel in his efforts to become all things to all men or disobey any biblical principles in his striving to reach his audience. But Paul was prepared to go to incredible lengths to minister to people in their circumstances and even become like his audience to better win them for Christ.
There is no better way to reach a hurting person than to comfort their pain, and to be willing to hurt with them. There is no better way to reach to a person than to speak to them on their level while fully understanding their lives and sympathizing with the circumstances they are in because we ourselves are at least willing to be alongside them in their circumstances comforting them. There is no better way of mirroring the love of our Savior who died for us while taking upon our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him.
Through the years, many people have blessed and challenged me with their willingness to surrender to this calling. Only heaven will reveal the ones that have delighted the heart of God the most, but as I look back through my life at these people that have touched me with their personal journey, one Iranian woman who suffers from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia stands out. Having withstood the rejection of family after giving her life to the Lord and then battling an illness that left her in constant pain, she embraced God's call on her life for the deaf community. Through my time in ministry I have watched this woman embrace the burden for the deaf and live it out. She started by learning sign language and then taught others to sign. A ministry developed to reach the deaf in the church and then to the deaf community in New York City. Today they offer simultaneous translation during services and travel to other countries to minister to the deaf around the world. She has given her life to reach the deaf and has not stopped allowing the Lord to push her to be more than she can physically be in order to win some. Not all, but some.
"When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness for I want to bring the weak to Christ" (1 Cor. 9:22 NLT).
Director of Missions, Times Square Church, NYC
*Excerpt testimony from Brad Guice's book "The Call to Missions: Living the Book of Acts". To read more inspirational and challenging testimonies from missionaries around the world and discover the incredible photography of Brad Guice order your own copy by visiting his website BradGuice.com