We had just returned from a grueling 7-day, 70+ mile trekking circumnavigation of the Cordillera Huayhuash range in Central Peru, a route that involved 7 passes over 15,000 ft. in elevation, all higher than any mountain in the contiguous United States. The weather is normally dry and clear this time of year, but we were blindsided by very unusual clouds, rain, and snow. And, the last thing any of us wanted to do upon returning to Huaraz was share the Gospel with anyone in town, especially since we had done so with many Israeli backpackers, locals, and other foreigners all along the Huayhuash route.
Exhausted and sunburned, I opened my Bible back in Huaraz and began reading from the first chapter of Mark. In verse 17, we are told that Peter and Andrew straightway left off fishing when Jesus beckoned to them, and in verse 20, both James and John straightway ceased mending their nets and left their father to heed the Lord’s call. I found it interesting that the phrase used in my Spanish Bible is al instante. In that instant, the disciples stopped what they were doing and followed Jesus. There was no hesitation, no second-guessing, no rationalizing. They dropped their nets and seized the opportunity. Is this not how it should be for those of us born of the Spirit, regardless of how we might feel (see John 3:8)? And should not the Great Commission be al instante when opportunity arises, unrestrained by the limits of programmed outreach or planned ministry events?
I was then drawn to II Corinthians 9 where the Apostle Paul warns the Corinthian believers in the context of giving: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (9:6). As the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11) and as the preaching of that Word is likened to the sowing of seed, does not the same principle apply to our Great Commission efforts? If we sow sparingly in the field, surely we will reap sparingly. If we sow abundantly in the field, surely we will reap abundantly. And the difference between the two is a matter of al instante. If our evangelism is limited to planned events and prearranged outreach (e.g. the Cordillera Huayhuash trek), we will sow sparingly. But, if we are faithful in that which is planned AND ready to straightway leave what we are doing to answer an opportunity that arises (e.g. on the streets of Huaraz when the last thing I feel like doing is talking to anyone), al instante, surely our sowing and our reaping will be abundant.
I pondered these things over a cup of coffee while staring out the window at the high mountains and glad to be out of them. Not long thereafter, these things would be put to the test.
This past Sunday was Eric & Mindy Trent’s last day in Huaraz, and for one last meal together we walked over to this inexpensive little cafe/bakery. Enroute, I passed two people on the street that I thought looked Israeli, but I hesitated, and the opportunity was lost. Bummed and exhausted, we ordered a meal I wouldn’t write home about and were content to call it one last day together. The last thing I wanted to do was be a witness to a stranger . . .
. . . Then, three young men hurriedly walked into the bakery looking to buy bread. I thought I heard them speaking Hebrew, but “Nah,” I thought, “I don’t want to talk to anyone anyway.” Immediately, I was convicted by the al instante I had read in my Spanish Bible; and in that instant, before my mind could catch up with my mouth, I blurted out: Shalom, anachnu chaverim Yisrael (Hello, we are friends of Israel). What ensued was a brief conversation whereby three young men from Israel who had just arrived in Huaraz were surprised and took Hebrew Gospel tracts and a handwritten invitation to dinner for any who might be interested. And that was that.
The next morning, Eric and Mindy Trent departed Huaraz. They have since safely returned to the United States and will be departing for Northern India in less than a week. Please pray for them and for abundant opportunity in the same work in South Asia the remainder of this year. The rest of the day was quite lonely for me and my family. We didn’t do much.
And then yesterday, one of those 3 young men from the bakery messaged me and asked if he and his friends could come for dinner. So much for loneliness. Al instante, Jamie and Bethany whipped up a great meal, and we all had a great time. One of the first questions asked at the table was “So tell us your story. You say God saved you, right?” I assured them that the God of Israel and the Messiah of Israel are REAL. And though salvation is “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16) so is the judgment (Romans 2:8-9). After dinner we made some Israeli coffee, and all three gladly received Bibles.
These three young men left on their own Huayhuash trek early this morning. I told them to stop by again when they return. We'll see what happens. You know, people die up in Huayhuash; but that is a post for another day.
Such is what can and does follow if you are al instante in the work of the Great Commission. Thank you for your prayers and support.
The Boyd Family