Kidnapping and even martyrdom are possibilities. Unusual illnesses are common. Intense spiritual warfare and stressed out marriages- sign me up! I want to start a DMM. Or not. It is no joke to pursue the launching of a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) among the Unreached. Suffering and Disciple Making Movements seem to go hand in hand.
The costs are real and the challenges great. How do we keep from being destroyed by the incredible cost of this effort?
What Makes It Worth It?
Suffering is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is particularly noticeable though, in the lives of those who pursue DMMs. It is not just likely, it is highly probable that you will face intense suffering as you work to start a movement. Some would say that experiencing suffering is characteristic of those who launch movements.
There are two main things that make the cost worth it. One is that in the midst of the pain we encounter, we know God more. Secondly, we have the joy of knowing our sacrifice will not be wasted. Lost people will be found by our Almighty God. The unreached will know the power of His radical, unconditional love. Whether today, tomorrow or years from now, the seeds sown by our tears and pain will bear much fruit.
Every Breakthrough Came With A Cost
It seemed like every time we had a forward advance in our work, I got sick. A divine appointment with a potential national apostle happened. I got hepatitis. We launched a new type of training for church planters, my back went out. We hosted a large missions conference calling thousands into ministry among the unreached. With it came unusual challenges in our marriage. It seemed we were at odds with one another for little reason.
“Every breakthrough we saw came at a personal cost to my husband and I.”
Other times, it was the challenge of getting visas to remain in the country. This took a toll on our sense of well being and emotional health. There was also the loss of death. At key moments of forward movement in ministry, tragedy seemed to strike. A co-worker was killed in a sudden accident. This happened just a week after we had prayed for special covering and protection over all our staff.
“What was I to do with this continual loss and suffering? How would I keep it from destroying me? Was it just part of what was necessary to see breakthroughs and movements released?”
Questions swirled in my mind when we faced these difficult challenges.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8: 17- NIV
How God Uses Suffering
Dan Allender writes in his book Cry of the Soul, “Suffering may be caused by the hand of an enemy, but God uses sorrow for the sake of redemption.” While painful and extremely difficult, together with suffering comes blessing. We can know the joy of hope in God no matter what we face as we pursue movements.
1. In the midst of the pain, we encounter and know God.
This may not come immediately. I am in no way trying to minimize the tremendous price that is paid. Many times, in the midst of loss and pain it feels as if God is silent or distant.
As we walk through the hardship, He reveals Himself. He gently comes to us with His Presence and love. He is there to comfort, even when there are no answers to our questions of “Why God?” Like Job, at the end of our trial, we meet Him as the sovereign God worthy of praise.
We have scars but are deeper in our faith. Faith that has been tested is a stronger kind of faith. The fire of adversity allows the true nature of God’s love to surface within our struggling hearts. We meet God as more than a Santa Claus. He is a God that is bigger than our doubts. We meet Him as the Healer of our bodies, marriages, and hearts.
As this suffering shapes us, foundation stones for the movement are laid.
2. There is joy in knowing our sacrifice will not be wasted.
“How do you know it won’t be wasted?” you may ask. Both the Word of God and the testimony of church history give evidence of this. Romans 8:17 tells us that as co-heirs with Jesus, as we share in His suffering we will also share in His glory.
We identify with Jesus’ pain at the cross as we willingly accept the trials we face as ambassadors of good news. “For the hope set before Him, he endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2).
Another scripture that promises our sacrifice will not be wasted is Galatians 6:9. “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Every movement that has taken off to exponential growth has had a high personal cost for the pioneers of it. Look at the movements in China or Korea. The ones taking place today in the Middle East, Africa or South Asia are no different. But that suffering, that pain, has not been lost. It’s led to the transformation of whole regions. Thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people have been swept into the Kingdom of God.
Misery Is Optional
As Tim Hansel writes, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.” We don’t have to be miserable. Living our lives full of hope is our inheritance from God. Press in to discover God’s goodness and character in the midst of your difficulty. Hold onto the dream and remember the promises of God. He is faithful. Your suffering will not be in vain.
Do you fear the hardships of starting a movement? Feel like the price is too high? Be real with God. Tell Him how you feel. Receive His strength and grace today.