Here is a trick question: Which is more important, faithfulness or success?
On a recent journey to Europe, I pondered and struggled with this question. We are all amazed at what is happening in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Last February, 161 people were baptized in Cambodia; in the past five years, the Free Methodist Church in Thailand grew from 12 to 1,608 members and from 1 to 14 churches. In Latin America, 8,500 have accepted Christ, and more than 1,750 have been baptized in the last three years. And in the Middle East, house churches are being planted almost faster than we can count. Wow! Praise God!
Wilmore, Kentucky, captured our attention for several weeks. We were in awe. We long for the outpouring of the Spirit like that into our lives and churches.
I thought about these things as I walked through the empty cathedrals of Europe and bumped into young people partying in church squares at night. I had agonizing conversations with godly, called, gifted church leaders whose hearts are broken for the lost, the lonely and the oppressed.
Our response is to give attention to results. We are drawn to the wonder. We give to success. But don’t all people matter? Even those in the graveyards of Christianity Don’t our struggling church plants in places like Hungary and Spain deserve our attention, support, encouragement and financial support? God is present in Europe, but it looks different from other places.
Both faithfulness and success matter. Faithfulness gives people like Larry and Katie Winckles the power to stay the course on the field for 23 years. How do we define success? What do we count? These are important questions. I call 23 years of dogged, persistent, sacrificial work success. Larry and Katie are not flashy people. There is no show. However, God is present in their lives and work, and we should be in awe of their perseverance and faithfulness just as much as we are amazed by the outpourings in Kentucky, Cambodia, Thailand, Colombia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
God is calling all people in all places.
Faithfulness and success are interchangeable.
Let us embrace both.
Join us in praying for Europe!