By George W. Flattery
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News! It's the good news for the whole world! Jesus said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world." In the Great commission Jesus said, "Go out into the world." God always thinks globally. God acts globally. God loves globally. God redeems globally. His heart breaks for the hurting, the poor and the lost globally! Jesus tell us in Mark 16:15, that we have the responsibility and privilege to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Go! It's a command! Go! Missions is for everyone! Are you committed to reaching the world for Jesus Christ?
Notice I didn't write, "saving" the world but "reaching" the world. Oswald Chambers said, "God is not saving the world; it is done. Our business is to get men and women to realize it." It's a command that I take very, very seriously. It's a command that my father takes seriously. And it is a command that my grandfather takes seriously. Let me tell you about my grandfather, George Warren Flattery, a pioneer missionary to French West Africa.
Grandpa was born in 1914 in Clearwater, Kansas. From the very beginning he was very serious about his life and about God. He writes, "that year (1927), the faculty-sponsored student's yearbook contained prophesies concerning what each 9th grade student might become best known for. Concerning me it was: "George Flattery for his seriousness." From the beginning at his conversion to Jesus Christ on August 16, 1931, Grandpa felt a calling to go to Africa as a missionary. After Bible School training at Southwestern Bible School in Enid, Oklahoma, Grandpa married Stella Engel on May 8, 1934 in a simple ceremony in his home.
After pioneering churches in Kansas, they left for Africa on July 25, 1945, and landed in Dakar, West Africa on August 23rd. From there they went to Ouagadougou, Upper Volta. They arrived in Ouagadougou, on Tuesday, September 4, 1945. After having been in Africa for only a day or two, Grandma wrote her parents, "Africa is just as we had pictured it in our minds. They wear anything to cover themselves. The more they can get wrapped around them the prouder they are. And of course even in a city you see them in their birthday clothes."
Grandpa writes, "but now (October, 1946) God was speaking to me about beginning evangelistic meetings among the Kasena tribe at a place called Corabie (about 110 miles south of Ouagadougou). The Kasena of that area had not yet been reached with the gospel of Christ. The Kasena of that area were all animists, and attributed conscious life to nature and natural objects.
Their first convert was a witch doctor, whose name was Nasia. Grandpa writes, "shortly after his conversion, Nasia brought us a large dried python skin. He told us that the snake which had lived in that skin had gone to his yard many times during the four years before we had opened the mission in Corabie. The snake had eaten many of Nasia's chickens and eggs during that time, in which Nasia was afraid to try to kill the snake-or even drive it away. Satan had caused Nasia to think that if he resisted the snake, it would bring leprosy upon him. But when Nasia repented of his sins and received God's forgiveness of them, the love of Christ entered his heart and removed satanic fear of the snake from him. In such love "there is no fear" (1 John 4:18). The next time the snake entered his yard, Nasia clubbed it to death!"
Anyan the priest
One person they came into contact with was Anyan, a heathen high priest and political head of the Kasena at Corabie. When they first went to Corabie, Anyan gave them a little hill about a mile from the center of the village of Corabie to build their mission house.
They built the house there before they learned why Anyan gave them this particular piece of land upon which to build. In their animism, the people of Corabie believed that this hill was the abode of evil spirits. They thought they had seen those evil spirits in the form of balls of fire rolling about on top of the hill. They feared those spirits and, therefore, had built no houses near it. Anyan thought that those evil spirits would scare them away and keep them from establishing a Christian mission among his people.
But Grandpa writes, "But he knew nothing about Psalms 91! Its verse 11 assures God's people that God will "command his angels" to protect them against all evil." From the time we started building, our mission station was no longer...the dwelling place of evil spirits. God angels scared them away! We finally learned, through some of the Corabie Christians, why no one had built a house near our location: after they were saved, they told us that before we had begun to build, they thought they had seen evil spirits on the mission site in the form of flames of fire dancing in the tree tops."
He further writes, "But Anyan continued as long as he lived to persecute Christianity. When we went to the United States on furlough after the rains of 1948, he did something that he felt would keep us from going to Corabie again, and would put an end to Christianity among his people: he gathered other priests and the Corabie people together for a ceremony in which he sacrificed a cow to his fetish. Then he pronounced curses upon us and upon the local Christians among whom we were planning to work again. But his curses acted like a boomerang: instead of hurting either the local Christians or us they fell upon Anyan's own head! A few days after he pronounced those curses, he suffered a mysterious death, which no heathen could explain. The Christians of Corabie...knew that it was God who had delivered them from his persecution."
During their second term of service, Grandpa and his family ministered in Po, Upper Volta. It was at that time that he writes, "after returning to Po, I began spending considerable time in translating portions of lessons from Myer Pearlman's Adult Teachers' Quarterly, first from English into More, then from More into Kasem. During the last part of our second term in Africa (while at Po) I translated 52 of Pearlman's lessons into both Kasem and More....my last major 1953 task...was writing rather than manual labor-it was my translation of the book of Acts from More into Kasem."
Their third missions term brought them to live and minister in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, where they built a large church which was completed on October 5, 1957. About 1000 people filled the church for its dedication service on December 1, 1957. While building the church there were nightly healing meetings. Many were saved and healed but he writes, "...as I was leaving the stadium on the 3rd night with the evangelist in my car, stones were thrown at us, but none entered the car.....The first night at the stadium, about 3,000 people attended."
Their fourth term of service was in Senegal, West Africa. There, grandpa continued to translate the Bible into Wolof the language of the majority of Senegal's people. Thank God for the faithfulness of missionaries like George and Stella Flattery! Not all of us can go to Africa as missionaries, but we can all pray. We can pray, and we can give. But we can also share our faith to those around us wherever you may be. Let me share with you briefly how you can share your faith with someone who does not have a relationship with Jesus:
1. Be a loving person.
Tony Campolo tells the story of Joe, a drunk who was miraculously converted at a Bowery mission. Prior to his conversion, he had gained the reputation of being a dirty wino for whom there was no hope, only a miserable existence in the ghetto. But following his conversion to a new life with God, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever known. Joe spent his days and nights hanging out at the mission, doing whatever needed to be done.
There was never anything that he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up the vomit left by some violently sick alcoholic, or scrubbing toilets after careless men left the men's room filthy, Joe did what was asked with a smile on his face and as seeming gratitude for the chance to help. He could be counted on to feed feeble men who wandered off the street and into the mission, and to undress and tuck into bed men who were too out of it to take care of themselves.
One evening, when the director of the mission was delivering his evening evangelistic message to the usual crowd of still and sullen men with dropped heads, there was one man who looked up, came down the aisle to the altar and knelt to pray, crying out for God to help him to change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, "Oh God! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!"
The director of the mission leaned over and said to the man, "son, I think it would be better if you prayed, "Make me like Jesus." The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression on his face and asked, "Is he like Joe?" God help us all to be "Joe's" in the faith! Be a loving person. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
2. Find out about the person. Ask questions.
Just because someone has rejected church, does not mean they have rejected God! Just because someone is spiritually adrift, doesn't mean they don't seek an anchor. Ask about their walk with God, their spiritual destiny.
3. After asking questions, listen.
Listen. Listen. Listen. Most people need someone to listen to them. Someone who will take the time to listen and to care.
4. Share with them your experience with God.
For most people the question is not, "Is Christianity true." The question is, "Does Christianity work?" Share with people how your life has been changed through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The story is told that when we get to heaven, we will be asked two questions. These are powerful questions, and we all need to think them through. The first question is: "Did you come alone?" Wouldn't it be awful to go to heaven and see God and his Son Jesus who died for the sins for the whole world and when he asks, "Did you come alone?" we shuffle our feet and say, "Well, I, ah; I think I did."
Wow! Did you come alone? Are we happy with just getting there ourselves? Is that our goal – to just save ourselves? Can you imagine the impact that's going to have on us, when we shuffle our feet and hang our heads and mumble, "Yeah, I came alone."
I think the second question, after we said, "yeah, I came alone," is just a one-word question." "Why?" Why? Why would you come to heaven alone?" That's a question that Grandpa and Grandma are going to rejoice in answering. They are going to be able to point and cry out, "over there; there are some people I recognize! I lead them to faith in you, Jesus!" What a day of rejoicing that will be!