Many are Called, but Few are Chosen
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” Matthew 19:29, 30. “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16.
These two texts and their meaning have puzzled me for a long time, but not anymore. I have learned that if we look at life’s circumstances and difficulties with spiritual eyes, God will show us answers to many puzzling truths. From the day we began our ministry work here in Honduras, we took on Missionary Volunteer Trainees. Although we did not fully understand what the end result would be, we knew that it was part of God’s plan for us to train young people in all areas of gospel medical missionary evangelism; so, by faith, we went forward.
Over the years, we have seen so many who have shown such promise—young men with multiple talents and skills. I often imagined what God must have in store for them. Unfortunately, too many of the young men did not persevere. They took their eyes off of Christ, and failed to see what He had in store for them. This was discouraging to me.
As the first phase of the training at our school ended, I felt a complete failure. It seemed that none of the young men were actually preparing to go forward. I was very hesitant to start up another training class. If we did not have continued education and training, what would happen to the youth, especially the young men? After much prayer, a small group of us put our heads together and established Maranatha Missionary Training Center—such a big name for a school with only three students. Teresa, who had been with us teaching the MICE (students of the Maranatha Institute of Christian Education,) agreed to outline the training schedule and begin teaching our MTs, (Missionary Trainees.)
Elsa and Teresa spent the first year teaching our students about and laying a foundation for character development. They did a wonderful job, but after awhile, it became apparent that the three young men needed a man that they could confide in, emulate and look to as an example. The Lord provided. It was also apparent that they needed to develop the strength of character that young men would need in the missionary field. They needed more physical work, persevering study and fervent personal devotions. This would not be an easy final round for the young men.
Just weeks before the end of the course, we received news that Jorge, one of the three students, had decided to drop out. He had decided to go home and work with his father. It was not easy losing Jorge from the team. He had always been the first to volunteer and assist me in medical procedures. He also seemed to be the most talented. The two young men, who remained, Rene and Roger, may not be the most talented, but they are diligent, faithful and spiritually determined. I can see that God has blessed them with the talents needed to accomplish His work. Both of these young men have had to withstand personal hardships—hardships that would have caused you and me to give up—yet, they held fast, not knowing whether there would be any work available for them at the end of their training. To be quite honest, I did not know if there was anything waiting for them at the end of their training, except a nice certificate of training, and a few recommendations to other ministries and churches.
This past summer, two things weighed heavily upon my shoulders: 1) What would happen to the ministry if something were to happen to both Elsa and myself, and 2) if we chose to establish a second Maranatha Outpost in another country, what would happen to this Outpost here in La Zona, as well as the church and the restaurant? God has done too much over the years, for us to be negligent in the affairs of His organization. We could not just abandon what God has started and blessed.
One day, we were thinking about how our MTs had advanced. They were not young boys anymore. They had become young men, nearly ready to take the mantel and carry forward the work of the Lord. All of the sudden, the thought crossed our minds: could this be what God had planned for us all along? Could it be that God was preparing these young men to carry on the work here in Honduras, in our absence?
When we look back, we are amazed at how quickly time has passed. It seems it was just yesterday that Roger was only interested in catching land crabs, and being a typical mischievous young boy. Today, we see in Roger a Medical Missionary in his own right, who has surrendered his all to Christ Jesus.
Then there is Rene. Rene from his very earliest years determined to be baptized and serve the Lord. Even as a child, he was always willing to stand up and speak for God. Now Rene is a young man. He has not waivered from the path God has placed before him.
Only time will tell the impact these two young men will have upon the cause of God. As we considered these two godly young men, we decided to ask both of them to consider taking over management of the Maranatha Medical Ministries Outpost, Honduras, after their graduation. We advised them to pray for God’s direction for their lives, and to ask Him, if this was in keeping with His will for them. After one week of earnest praying, Roger and Rene accepted the call. They have agreed not only to take over the Outpost, but the clinic and the restaurant, as well, and to be active leaders in the local church.
Yes, this is a tremendous responsibility for these men, but a glorious one for the advancement of the Lord’s work. Elsa and I will continue to be here, to mentor them a bit longer. But they know that the day will come, when they will independently have to make all the decisions. They do not know it yet, but soon, we are going to give them a temporary trial run at making all of the decisions. This is a wonderful day for the ministry. God has allowed us to see the fruit of our labors.
Few will ever experience what it is like to work as a missionary in a third world country. Thousands go on mission trips every year to countries like Honduras, but always knowing that they will return home in a few short weeks. This is not to say that we have done something extraordinary. To be quite honest with you, we had no idea that we would still be working, harder than ever, eleven years later. Yes, there are many disappointments, and countless hardships, but God always gives us the strength to move forward in Him. Some foreign missionaries may never see the fruits of their labors; yet, God has been gracious to us, in allowing us to see some of the rewards. He loves to encourage His children, and show us that our work, His work, has not been in vain.
Just recently we had a graduation for the two young missionaries—Roger and Rene. They have suffered in order to attend our school. They have had to learn subjects that are not taught at any other school in this country. They have had to endure ridicule from peers and older folk alike. They had to be trained in so many things that seemed foreign to them, but they trusted in God to direct and strengthen them. Whenever we place our complete faith and trust in God, we cannot fail. This has proved true in the case of our two young missionaries.
I wish each and every one of you, who have prayed, supported, and encouraged us, could have been here to witness this special event. What a day of rejoicing it was—at the Outpost and in Heaven.
Why are we afraid to educate our children in the School of Christ? Can we not trust God with giving our youth all that they need to “make it” in this world, as well as prepare them for Christian service? “The Lord Jesus has paid your tuition fees. All that you have to do is to learn of Him…. All who learn in Christ’s school are under the training of heavenly agencies; and they are never to forget that they are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men…. Upon every heart there is to be inscribed the words, as with the point of a diamond, ‘There is nothing that I fear, save that I shall not know my duty, or shall fail to do it.’” Our High Calling, 102.
Days after the completion of their training, our missionary graduates received a call to preach at a church on the Honduras Island of Roatan. This was the first time the young men had been off of the mainland, and it was a great opportunity for them to exercise their public speaking skills, and also, to share with the islanders God’s present truth message. Needless to say, Roger and Rene were both nervous and excited, but they knew this was a call from God and were eager to do their best. Roger presented the eleven o’clock message. It was a very convicting message on the importance of medical missionary work. I wish you could have heard him. God used this young man in such a powerful way. Elsa and I were speechless, to see how confidant, poised and spiritually gifted he was. We both realized that what we were witnessing was not a result of anything we had done, but rather the transforming power of God in Roger’s life.
After the services, the people were amazed at the wealth of information this young man gave them. They wanted more and more. What we are teaching our young men to do now is to always be humble and give God alone the honor and glory. God is opening up more doors for these young men.
We just thank the Lord that He has graciously allowed us to see some of the fruit of our labors. We request that you will remember Roger and Rene in your prayers as they enter their field of missionary labor.
By Joe Willis, Maranatha Medical Ministries, Honduras. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.maranathamedical.org. Donations can be sent to Maranatha Medical Ministries, PO Box 390, Keysville, VA 23947.