While some abortion center sidewalks are hopping with action, chaos and many opportunities to plant seeds and the missionaries see frequent, visible fruit, that is not always the case. There are some abortion centers where few abortions occur, the opposition is minimal, and interactions are almost nonexistent. No visible fruit may be evident for months … if EVER. How do we know it is worth it? How do we remain committed to the ministry in these “boring” situations?
Let me be the first to admit it is not easy. We know we should be praising God that few abortions take place, and that we are standing in front of a seemingly dying abortion center; however, it is natural to want to fully engage in the battle with the sword of the Spirit slashing every demonic stronghold while waxing eloquent with the Gospel pouring forth from our anointed mouths upon wounded, desperate souls. We want to recount glorious tales of people flocking from the abortion center, falling on their knees in submission to the Lord, and so many babies saved that a new Kindergarten must be built and named after … well, ME.
It is OK to desire action and be assured that our labor is not in vain. We hope this article will give you a new perspective when the sidewalk ministry in your area is more like a slog than a jog.
One of my very favorite prophets is Jeremiah. He ministered for 40 years and saw almost no apparent fruit from his work. He preached his heart out, only to be ignored and persecuted. He could not understand why God delayed bringing about what Jeremiah KNEW should be the consequence of the rebellion against God. He questioned if he was better off just being silent.
But listen to what he found when he tried to be silent when God had so clearly called him to the path he was on.
“But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.” Jeremiah 20:9
Jeremiah recognizes a key point in ministering when it seems futile.
If God has called you to this ministry, He will give you a burning compulsion to be faithful in executing the tasks to which you have been appointed.
Practical application: Have you been called by God to do this work? Did He make a mistake in calling you to a difficult abortion center at which to minister? Do you feel a deep desire to serve Him in abortion ministry? Then trust that you are being used despite the lack of evident fruit.
Not only did Jeremiah NOT see fruit from his decades of ministry, he was TOLD that would be the result!
““You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you.” Jeremiah 7:27
This helped the weeping prophet to understand another key point in ministering when fruit was seemingly absent.
The absence of visible results is NOT surprising to God, and, in fact, has a divine purpose!
Practical Application: Faith is the evidence of things unseen. God has a plan and purpose, but sometimes, we are not privy to exactly how He intends to achieve it. Trust that God is there and probably working behind the scenes to bring about exactly what He intends. Be faithful in what you can do: pray, prepare and engage when the opportunity presents itself.
I am not saying God desires that babies die in abortions; but there are countless examples in Scripture of God allowing sin to continue and hard hearts to grow even harder. Pharaoh is one example, whose heart hardened repeatedly as Moses begged him to let his people go. By the time God finally opened the path for His people to escape the slavery of Egypt, God had shown Pharoah that his gods were all false, and the one true God would ultimately prevail. In other words, God’s plan is not always apparent and sometimes we wait a long time as He works out the victory. It may or may not happen during our lifetime. It did not in Jeremiah’s.
Jeremiah served during the final days before Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians. Most of his ministry was while the Jews were in exile. False prophets opposed Jeremiah, claiming the exile would be brief, but Jeremiah spoke the truth as God inspired him: the exile would continue a LONG time. In fact, it would last 70 years. It would be easy for Jeremiah to languish in the knowledge of this terrible prophecy.
Instead, Jeremiah tells the exiles that they are to get busy in establishing their new lives in Babylon by doing ordinary things like build houses, plant gardens, marry and bear children; indeed, they are even to seek the welfare of Babylon while they are there. Jeremiah proclaims another key point in periods of waiting for the action to begin.
While nothing seems to be happening, be busy seeking the welfare of the place where you are planted.
Practical application to sidewalk ministry: While on the sidewalk, do what you know promotes the welfare of those whose lives you may touch. Pray for all the moms who may have turned away from abortion when they saw a Christian presence. Pray for the babies, many or few, who will die in that abortion center. Speak to all those you can and share the truth of God with them as well as the truth of abortion. Be alert and ready to engage any who may pass by or enter the abortion center.
Jeremiah faced deep discouragement and sorrow. The second book penned by him in the Bible is Lamentations, the name of which gives you a clue to the sorrow he endured; however, despite the long years of waiting for God to save His people and waiting for those people to give any sign of trusting or believing Jeremiah, he was NOT without hope. One of the most famous Bible verses of hope occurs in Jeremiah 29:
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’” Jeremiah 29:11-14
Jeremiah was given the gift of hope from God who reminded him that in the end, all would be made right. The key point Jeremiah learned was invaluable in sustaining him through those long and lonely years.
God is there, always working, and His plan will NOT fail. One day, the fruit of faithfulness will be revealed.
Practical application: Keep focused on the goal, which is to glorify God. You can do that with or without visible fruit. Is your witness in front of the abortion center consistently one that magnifies and reflects your Lord? If not, your mission may be to trust more and focus on becoming more like Jesus while engaged in ministry. You never know who your example may influence for God.
The amazing thing is that despite all the woes of Jeremiah’s life, he never quit. He wanted to! As we mentioned earlier, he would TRY not to speak for God – but he knew he had a mission appointed by God and he fulfilled it. He did not pretend to be joyful when he was not, but he refused to quit. This is perhaps the most important key point that Jeremiah demonstrates through his life.
Never give up. Finish the race God has called you to, no matter what.
Practical application: Don’t. Give. Up. Never, EVER, give up!