Pastoral 2017

O Lord, Send More Labourers!

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 16 July 2017

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Every true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ knows deep in his soul that it is his solemn duty from the Lord to pray for full-time Christian workers. Who among us would forget our Lord’s earnest words - “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2)?

Those words of Christ confirmed in my heart His call in 1982 that I may serve Him as a preacher of His Word. Since then, those words of Christ have also placed in me a deep desire to see many others also serving the Lord for the salvation and edification of souls. After my marriage, my wife and I prayed that the Lord would call our children to serve Him full-time according to His good pleasure. Both of us were so deeply convicted of the gravity of the need for more labourers in the work of the Lord that we could do no other but desire, pray and dedicate our children to the Lord for His service. We are grateful to the Lord for all, both in our church and elsewhere, who have been praying along with us for the same burden.

About two months ago, when our firstborn, Cornelius, related to us of his conviction of God’s gracious call to serve Him full-time, both my wife and I were overwhelmed with powerful emotions – unspeakable joy and also overwhelming burden. It is not possible in this brief note to describe all those feelings. As we praise God for giving the conviction to Cornelius, we pray earnestly that he will remain faithful to the Lord, that he may do all His good pleasure in the Gospel work. We are grateful to the Lord for Gethsemane BPC’s prayerful support, which we, as a family, have been abundantly receiving as we serve Him in this beloved church. Please read Cornelius’ testimony of call to full-time service below, and kindly remember him in your prayers that God would equip him with all grace and knowledge to serve Him all the days of his life.

 

My Calling

To my spiritual family in Gethsemane,

I have received God’s call to give my life to serve Him, and I am very sure of it. I am certain because I heard His call through His unmistakable Word. I tried to resist it, but the call was irresistible. With such an irrepressible call into the ministry, I must needs bid His call. During our prayer meeting on Tuesday (11 July 2017), I testified how God worked through His Word to:

  1. alter my perspectives towards consecration and God’s sovereignty;
  2. allay the fears I had towards my abilities and the demands of the ministry; and finally
  3. move me to accede to God’s call to serve Him full-time.

Today’s publication serves as a written and summarised testimony of how I came to know God’s will concerning full-time ministry.

The Specific Call and Its Context

“… but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).

The context to this verse, found in 2 Timothy 1:5-9, deals specifically with Timothy, who is already a servant of God, serving alongside Paul. Timothy, however, needed spiritual strengthening, and Paul was God’s appointed encourager to Timothy. Just as Timothy was exhorted by Paul in v. 8, “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God”, I hear the Holy Spirit’s convicting call to me through Paul’s words to Timothy.

My Circumstances

By the providential leading of God, He has earlier led me to two passages which prepared me for this final and third call in 2 Timothy.

Firstly, from 1 Samuel 1-2, my perspectives were altered when I learnt, from Hannah’s life, that the consecration of a child is an acknowledgment that God is the Giver of life. By consecrating Samuel, she was affirming her trust that God is sovereign, and that He will provide. From the life of Samuel, I was rebuked by his life of pure obedience. Never once did he murmur against the sovereign will of God, but obediently he served in the house of the LORD in Shiloh. His obedience was unquestioning; it was swift; it was unwavering; it was lifelong – the theme of obedience recurs in 1 Samuel and culminates in the famous verse: “… Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22b).

Secondly, from Ephesians 1:3-12, my fears of the ministry were adequately allayed when I learnt that all spiritual blessings are promised to me, and that the salvation I have in Christ Jesus is the security (or evidence) that I will be equipped with spiritual graces necessary for an effective ministry.

The Spiritual Strengthening

In 2 Timothy 1:5-7, Paul exhorts Timothy to remember the unfeigned faith of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. Timothy had personally witnessed their unrestrained service, and here Paul encourages Timothy to stir up the gifts in him for God’s service, with the lives of his grandmother and mother as living examples that God will be with him. Paul then reminds Timothy that God has not given him a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. The vestiges of fear that resided in Timothy’s faith had to be eradicated with the remembrance of the faith of Lois and Eunice, and with the trust that God has given us the spirit of power, and not fear.

These passages were thus providentially given by God to prepare my heart to receive the call in 2 Timothy 1:8.

Qualification

I must qualify that the term “afflictions” in 2 Timothy 1:8 does not merely refer to the generic category of trying and painful encounters of every man, but the specific trying and painful experiences that meet the preacher of the Gospel. Paul writes to Timothy, using the singular second-person pronoun “thou”, thus directing his exhortation to Timothy and not to the body of believers at large. If Paul had intended the “afflictions” to refer to the broad experience every believer would face, he would have used the plural second-person pronoun “ye”. It is clear, from Timothy’s position as a servant of God, that the “afflictions” here refer specifically to the painful experiences that come with being a “partaker” or servant of the Gospel of Christ.

The Call Reaffirmed

Knowing that these verses refer specifically to the ministry of the Gospel, I am convinced that the LORD is calling me into the ministry. The LORD calls me to be like Timothy (a partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel of Christ), to suffer so that the truth of the Gospel may continue in the church and be preached to all; to preach the Word of God for the salvation of sinners and for the sanctification of believers; and to be an instrument through which the power of God – the Gospel – may work effectually to the salvation of many.

An Accompanying Promise

Afflictions notwithstanding, the LORD calls me to serve Him “according to the power of God”. That is to say, the afflictions of the Gospel will not exceed the power of God that He equips me with; there will be no affliction without the accompanying empowerment of God! This promise is assuring – that the spirit of power, which displaces the spirit of fear, will steer and propel me forward in the ministry, come what may.

May God be merciful to sustain me in the ministry, that I may be used effectively for the sake of the Gospel, and for His glory.

In service to God who has called me,
Cornelius Koshy