“I SEE YOUR BAGS PACKED”
Rev. Pedro Rosado, Naples, Florida
“I see your bags packed.”
At those words, Pedro Rosado’s eyes opened wide. Startled, a slight breeze would have knocked him over. For years he had been searching for the Lord’s will, asking the Lord if it was time for him to begin a new mission field in SW Florida. He had a full ministry in New Jersey, but there was this disquieting urge to begin a new mission.
Then, during a worship service, Rosado had his eyes closed, silently praying, asking the Lord if it was time for him to leave everything in New Jersey and move his family to Florida. From behind, a man reac hed out and put his hand on Pedro’s shoulder. A friend’s soft voice said, “I see your bags packed.” This was the assurance the missionary needed. He left his job, his home, packed all he owned and transported his wife and little girls to the sunshine state, eager to share the true Son.
Let me say at the outset I am a firm believer in strategic planning; other words for strategic planning are “good stewardship.” Jesus says as much in Luke 14, “28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” Each of us has been given a set amount of resources to work with to serve the Lord. However, that is one part of the story. But there is another part, where the Lord says “Go,” and gives no instructions on how or where.
In Genesis 12 the Lord said to father Abraham, ” “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Abraham had not planned this. The same with Philip, Acts 8:29, “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Philip hadn’t gone into the desert between Jerusalem and Gaza thinking he would find an official of a royal court. When the Lord calls, you go.
When I was a pastor at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey we conducted a survey of the poor in our community. Discovering that most of the economically poor were single parents, we realized there was an urgent the need for a day care center. None of the seventeen people on our planning group knew anything about starting a day care – but we did what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing. We formed a committee. And we prayed. Now, this was a congregation that had just started making payments on its loan from the Church Extensioon Fund after not having paid anything for seventeen years.
After the committee was started two people joined the church who had helped start day care centers. A member of the church approached us to say his company was giving grants to local service projects; we received a grant that covered our costs for the first year.
One month before we were to open the director we thought we were hiring informed us she had been offered more money by her current employer and would not be taking the position. However, another day care center west of us was closiing so one of our committee called to see if we could purchase any of their furniture. The director said, “No – but are you still looking for a director?” This director had been chosen by Rutgers University as a site for bringing students to observe how a day care should be run.
In my experience it takes at least three miracles to begin a new mission, more to start a mission field of several new churches. Itt has been five years since Missionary Rosado began the first new mission; seventy Spanish speaking people are now gathering every Sunday in a rented space to find strength and worship the Lord. This was miracle two.
A third is needed: if anyone knows of a property in the Naples, Florida area that the church can have, or purchase at a reasonable price, please let us know. Faith is having confidence in the guidance of the Lord, like Abraham, like missionaries, like Pedro Rosado. Missionaries in particular know the reality of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. What about you? I see your bags packed.