I watched as the hands of the clock crept past the bottom of another hour. I had been sitting there since 0425. For those who do not know it, I am by no means a morning person. I looked around me, seeing about 20 others who impatiently waited with declining hope to see if the day held a reward for them. “I’m probably the most academically educated person here,” I thought to myself, “and for once, it doesn’t matter. We all have the same chance of getting it, just less of a chance today.”
As one after another intermittently walked out the door, giving up hope, I figured I may as well head home. In the past week of awakening long before the crack of dawn and heading over to Labor Works, hoping to pick up a day’s work, if there’s nothing by 7:30, there’s nothing for the day. Some may be wondering, what would college-educated, technologically-talented Benjamin Alan Middleton be doing, vying for a day’s work at a manual labor agency? Therein lies the backstory.
Over two years ago, I heard the inescapable call of God to dedicate my life, full-time, to preaching, teaching, and producing documentaries and mission films wherever He opened a door. From then until now, God has opened doors, across the country and around the world, and now, another door is opening. Starting this weekend, Mia and I will be leading and recording a mission team of about 45 young people in eastern Canada for three weeks, and afterwards presenting for a youth conference.
We have eagerly, with increasing difficulty, taken up the challenge to go wherever God asks us to go. The challenge few seem to understand is that to be free to answer that call at a moment’s notice, neither I nor my wife have been able to work a full-time job. How do we survive? It’s simple really. God. Us. And You. We trust God’s promise that He would always take care of our needs as we have dedicated ourselves ministry. Whenever ministry permits, we work–HARD–with our hands. Aches and blisters tell a tiring tale.
And then there is you. You make a difference. You pray for us. And some of you have taken the time to financially support us. Some of your have become a powerful channel to enable further ministry. As we do our part, we thank God, and we thank you. And at times like the present, we cry out to God to continue to open doors for continued ministry that would otherwise be shut due to a lack of means. It has been overwhelming and at times heartbreaking that we say the gospel must be preached for a witness to all nations, and yet each of us show but little personal investment in the accomplishment of that task.
As I have sat at Labor Works over the past week, hoping for chances to work all day at minimum wage to make sure this mission project can go forward, I’ve been reading and mediating on the parable Jesus told about the man who hired workers for his vineyard throughout the day. God has been reminding me that He is searching for Missionaries, not Mercenaries. The Mercenary isn’t concerned with the harvest. He isn’t concerned with the fruits. His preoccupation is the end…but which end? His end is his payment, and when he’s worked his full day, he wants his full pay.
God has had to rebuke me for at times serving Him as a Mercenary rather than a Missionary. I cry and complain to Him that all of my time, energy, and money goes into His work, and in the end, credit is nearly full and the bank is nearly empty. I whine, demanding to know why I’ve had to struggle and toil to maintain the flexibility full-time ministry demands and yet scrape together enough cash to make minimum payments for over two years now when “the cattle on a thousand hills” are His. I struggle to focus on the right end. The Missionary is like the Mercenary. Same skill set, same work ethics, his preoccupation is the end…but which end? The end of the day isn’t about the pay. The missionary seeks the end of the harvest for the sake of the fruit.
What about you? Are you a Missionary or a Mercenary? We can all get excited about the end…but which end? Is it about the pay off? Is it about us and what we get out of it? Do we miss opportunities to hasten the end of the harvest because of what it will personally cost us? I’ve asked myself these questions every day, and I will continue doing so as often as God burdens my heart.
For now, I know my task. It is a mission in Ontario, beginning this weekend. I still don’t have any idea how it will work out. I don’t know how bills will get paid, but I am certain of the call. My wife and I have answered the call of the Master for Missionaries to work in the North American portion of the field, to help complete the harvest.
First, I ask that you pray. Pray for my wife and I. Pray for our hearts to be fully committed. Pray for the GYC and ECYC teams we will be leading and recording. Pray for the people we will meet. Pray for more workers to labor in the Lord’s vineyard. And if you could be so kind, a little note, message, or email telling us you’re praying for us does a world of encouragement to strengthen weary arms and feeble knees.
Second, I ask that you give. Give of your best for the Master. Give your time in His service, your energy in His field, your funding in His cause. Wherever He leads you to go, and whatever He asks of you to give, please give–with the heart of a missionary, not a mercenary–with a heart steadfast onthe completion of the harvest and not on personal gain or reward in this life, or in the life to come. If you desire presently to help financially make the upcoming mission possible, or if in the future you would like to support upcoming ministry endeavors, you may do so below.
May God our Father bless and keep you always, and may The End come. Even so, come Lord Jesus.