Pioneering is …
seeing the opportunities that others don’t see, even when you are looking at the very same thing. I believe that pioneers have a special God-given gift, they have eyes that see different things than others.
The following short story bears a lot of wisdom about the pioneering spirit that the Lord puts in the hearts of some of His children.
A salesman was sent to a faraway place to sell shoes. When he arrived, he looked around. Everywhere, he saw people walking on bare feet. Immediately he booked his return ticket and headed home. When asked by his boss what happened, he answered: “It was pointless. Nobody was wearing shoes. We will never sell anything over there.”
However, another salesman was sent to the same place. Upon arriving and looking around, he immediately phoned his company and shouted with excitement: “Send at least 10 containers of shoes! This is the perfect market for us, nobody is wearing shoes! Everybody will need our products.”
Many church planters, missionaries, social justice advocates, community workers, and so on, have this special ability to get going and find a niche. They use it to make something for the Kingdom out of nothing. It is the Creator of all speaking something of His new creation into being.
Pioneering is …
having the courage to fail and try again. How often do we attempt something, it doesn’t work out so well and we let go of it? Maybe even muttering to ourselves, “Probably it was not the Lord’s will anyway.”
Paul encountered some very violent and disheartening situations. Acts 14 tells us that on at least one occasion, he was stoned and left for dead. In fact, he travelled from Antioch to Lystra, and to Derbe, and in all three cities he had to flee because of threats or violence (Acts 13-14). But he did not give up. In fact, he decided to revisit each one of these places immediately afterward, to strengthen the disciples, telling them that the normal pathway in the Kingdom is called “tribulation.” Bouncing back and again living our calling is part of pioneering. It is the risen Christ breathing into people and getting them back on their feet again.
Pioneering is …
a stretching gift for our church that needs to be nourished. One of our regional priorities is “pushing our boundaries – personally, as church, as district and as field.” If pioneers minister in a Christlike manner and step outside the comfort zone, they draw others with them and inspire them to live courageously for Christ.
As I live with a couple of innovators in my own life, I need to confess that I often scratch my head at the new ideas and initiatives that come my way. But I am convinced that we, the church, cannot do without pioneers. In pioneers, the Lord gives us His treasure. They are the way to learn how surprising our God is, what it means to live by faith, and be daring in our obedience.
But pioneers need to be nourished by the community of the church. One missionary returned from a visit to a very innovative urban ministry. When I asked him what he had learned, he answered: “They work in teams! What they would not do or dare by themselves, or what they would give up doing, they do together. They encourage one another; they complement each other. They have maximized being part of the team.”
I am not a pioneer myself, but I can hear the Spirit speaking through them, and I want to do my part to nourish and to be part of the team. We live in a fast-changing world with outrageous developments. The pioneers among us are an important part of the Spirit of Christ, enabling the church to respond in a Christlike and prophetic way to those developments.
Find out more about pushing boundaries by attending a Eurasia Regional Conference. Go to invisibleconference.org to register, or for more information.
— Arthur Snijders, Eurasia Regional Director
This article was previously published in the June 2019 edition of Where Worlds Meet.