To them we might as well have been creatures from another planet, anomalies that some had only heard about but had never seen. Children who one minute were playing beside the road and the next were jumping and shouting “wazungu, wazungu” (the Swahili term for foreigner). Seeing a vehicle full of light-skinned wazungu bouncing along a remote East African road was sure to catch everyone’s attention.
Having made four previous visits to the “forgotten” village of Bukabwa, Tanzania, I had grown accustomed to the shouts and hand waves of excitement. Those previous visits by me and various teams of Americans, working in partnership with the African Inland Church of Tanzania, had brought the gospel to a place where time had stood still and witchcraft was openly practiced.
Standing in the center of the village where we have planted a church I looked at my iPhone app and notice that we were almost exactly 10,000 miles from home. Who in this forgotten place could have ever imagined that wazungu from a far-off land would one day be sitting in their huts telling them the story of Jesus and the message of salvation?
But then I read Isaiah 46:10-11. “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please…from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.”
God has a plan, and He will move heaven and earth to see that it is accomplished, even if that means dropping men and women from a far-off land into a village that isn’t on any map.
But what if we hadn’t gone? What if we skipped riding 24 hours one way in airplanes, squeezing into dusty 4-wheel drive vehicles and bouncing along stretches of land referred to as “roads”? What if we hadn’t answered the call or responded to the vision?
God would have found someone else. He would have found another way to fulfill His purpose. His eternal plans are not held hostage to our whims.
But what about us? What if we hadn’t been obedient? What if we hadn’t joined in what God was doing on the other side of the world? We would have missed out on seeing the Creator of the Universe demonstrate love to “the least of these.” We would not know first-hand the power of God to destroy demonic strongholds. We would have missed the smiles of the previously hopeless who now have an unspeakable joy. We would have never heard the stories of families delivered and restored from alcoholism and years of physical abuse. We wouldn’t have met people willing to walk two hours to get to the church. We wouldn’t have the satisfaction of knowing that the only reason there is any church in the area was in part because of our efforts.
Truly God would still have worked His plan but we would have been the biggest losers.
Sometimes God sends people from far-off places into our lives to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Sometimes He sends us. The question we each must ask is, “are we willing?” Are we willing to allow God to use others so speak into our lives—even if they are from a distant land, another generation or a different social status? Are we willing to be the man or woman from the far-off land who speaks into the lives of others—even if they look different than us, speak a strange language or eat unrecognizable food?
God will fulfill His purpose. We can either join with Him to see it accomplished or we can watch from the sideline.
Frank Banfill is an international speaker and leadership developer who seeks to help individuals and ministries realize their full potential in Christ. Please forward this to your family & friends. To get Frank’s devotionals delivered free to your inbox, or to request reprint rights, visit www.FranksBibleBlog.com.