As a college student, I was one of those starry-eyed souls always trying to create memories with words.
I wrote entries in my journal at the site of the Battle of Hastings, in the ancient light of Chartres Cathedral, at the top of Mount Vesuvius, and in the Rome dungeon where tradition has it both Peter and Paul were imprisoned.
But I write these words from the back seat of a bus traveling from Shanghai to Wuxi, China, knowing that words cannot do justice to the memories being created by this trip. The vastness of a great land and a great people stretches out ahead of us as we roll along the highway. Each of us in turn grows quiet, sensing the enormity of the command of Jesus to share His gospel wherever He is not known and loved.
It is staggering to remember that nearly 20 percent of the world’s 6 billion people live within 2,000 miles of where I will sleep tonight, while only 1 percent of the world’s Christians and 2 percent of its Seventh-day Adventists live “nearby.” We rejoice, and rightly so, that more than 3,500 persons a day are being added to the worldwide membership of God’s remnant church. But the population of just China alone grows by a number almost seven times that—24,000—in that same 24-hour period.
How will the gospel ever reach a population expanding so rapidly that even mass media seems ill-equipped for the task? How will a global community of Seventh-day Adventists now numbering nearly 25 million find and use the resources to reach the population of even this one nation—50 times our current number?
The short answer is that we will not and we cannot do it through our best efforts or most carefully planned strategies. Only the power of God, working miraculously and exponentially through means probably yet unknown to us, will ever be able to touch so many lives in one generation.
Jesus told His disciples that when they saw the immensity of the task—when they saw the fields ripe for harvest—they were to pray—pray that the Lord will send forth laborers into His field. This we must do, even as the task looms ever larger and the challenges more forbidding. The God who spoke worlds into existence has means at His disposal of which we can scarcely dream. “The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save” (Isa. 59:1).
He can take the widow’s mite, the flour left in the bottom of the barrel, the feeblest prayer of the feeblest saint, and accomplish His will in spreading the good news.