II Samuel 2 we find an interesting story concerning Abner, commander for the house of Saul, and Joab the commander for the house of David. Abner fled from the battle and in so doing was chased by Joab’s brother, Asahel. The sad end of this story in vs 23 is Asahel ends up impaled on a spear….dead. What happened? What was the cause of this?
We are in a crisis amongst missionaries. When I speak of missionaries coming home, I am not speaking of reasons such as health or a change in ministry. I am referring to the many who come home and now are no longer in the ministry at all. What happened to these men and principles from the life of Asahel may help us understand a bit clearer.
1. (vs. 18a) – Asahel came from the right family. Notice that his brother was the great Joab. Your family may have been missionaries or even missions minded. That, in and of itself, is not enough for when you reach the field.
2. (vs. 18b) – Asahel had natural abilities. It states that he was as light of foot as a wild roe. In the south we would say he could run like a scalded dog! You may be able to “preach”, “shuck the corn” or “bring the house down”. That does not mean you are ready at all for the field in which you are headed. A camp meeting service and a Chinese service are not the same thing. What will be successful for one may not be for the other. Just because you can “preach”, does not mean that you know people and how to work with them. Sadly, these days being able to “preach” does not even mean you are spiritual. If you are trusting in your speaking ability for success, what happens when you can not speak their language?
3. (vs. 19a) – Asahel was Motivated. He took off running after Abner with all he had. You also may be a man that is highly motivated yet that in and of itself does not mean you are ready for the field. What does your motivation lead you to do? You can be a motivated golfer but if you do not learn how to swing correctly, you will never improve. You will just do wrong with enthusiasm!
4. (vs. 19b) – Asahel was Focused. He did not turn to the right or left from following Abner. You talk about looking straight ahead and no wavering, Asahel was our man. You and I may also be focused even to the point of affixation. I can look straight ahead trying to get across the street and get hit by a car. Asahel was so locked in the he would not listen (vs. 21) or change. Being focused becomes dangerous when we no longer are willing to change.
5. (vs. 23) – Asahel was Dead. The sad end to this story is the young man ended up dead. He was finished and the people just stood still in amazement.
So it is today that many who have admirable qualities end up impaled by the spear of missions. They possess good characteristics and yet are still not ready. Asahel was a good warrior, Abner a great one. Asahel had a lack of experience and preparation compared to the task before him. We have to be very careful taking a guy who has taught a junior high boys class and then say he is ready to start a church 4,000 miles away in a different land with a different culture and a different language. He is motivated, focused, excitable, enjoys teaching his class and his dad is one of the deacons in the church. The only problem is the experience of teaching a junior boys class or running a bus route is only the foundational block of experience need to see this man successful and victorious on the mission field.
May each day of your pre field experience (if you are on deputation) be filled with learning, growing and gaining of experience. Prepare yourself the best you can for what is coming ahead. Pastor, please allow your missionary family the exposure and experience they need to have a chance on the field. Do not let the first time he baptizes, does the Lord’s Supper, preaches, sits in a deacon’s meeting, or is in charge of a funeral be when he gets to the field. When he is able to take over your church then he may be able to go to the field and start a church. Help prepare him so that he does not end up with a spear run through him and everybody in your church “standing around” looking at him.
Later I will give some suggestions of books to read as you get ready for the field. May God bless you as you serve Him.