“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:15,16)
PAUL WAS EVIDENCE that the gospel works by transforming lives and he never tired of attesting to that. He had previously been a blasphemer, because he had denied the divinity of Christ, and used all his influence and strength to destroy de gospel and the church by means of persecution and death. He was relentless, proud, violent, and blind to the truth. Among many others, Stephen was subjected to that and suffered.
Paul declared that it took abundant grace to save him. He used the superlative as he felt that words could not express everything. He still considered himself the chief of sinners. He does not say «I was» the chief; he says «I am» the chief. This is a message of encouragement: if there was hope for him, there is hope for all.
Paul was transformed froma persecutor to a preacher, from a murderer to a pastor, from o commissioner of evil to a missionary for good, from a fanatic of formalism into a herald of Christianity.
We must live the same passion that Paul lived, the same passion that was devoted to the South American Division. Every one of our unions and institutions feels indebted and grateful for the sacrificial pioneers who one day came to our lands with the message of the gospel. That is why for five years we sent twenty-five missionaries and their families to highly challenging places and financially supported them. For obvious reasons we do not mention their names, but we thank God for having been placed in the Lord’s hands to fulfill the mission.
There have been stories of miracles and struggles. One couple lost their second child after ten days of life. It was very difficult to bury him because no Christian ceremonies could be performed in those lands. Others had to learn new languages, cultures, foods, and friendships. Many victories have already been won in many places: lives have been transformed and added to the kingdom of God.
What moves someone to come out of their comfort zone and go to areas in which the gospel is completely unknown? What drives those who do not go, but support them with their resources and prayers? What inspires those who stay where they have always been to live out their faith in a faithful and committed way?
Are we motivated? How many people do we contact, influence, and help study the Word to bring them to Jesus?
In their, time Paul and the missionaries to the world have already responded. Now it is our turn to respond.