The Sacrifice That is Needed
Missionary Gugssa Biru
Mission Nation Publishing was created to “Give a voice to the Missionaries to America.” Even the idea of “Missionaries to America” is still shocking to many. But as the number of Christians in America has declined, others around the world have felt a burden to do for us what in earlier years Americans did for them – share the power of the gospel. Out of His love for us, God is sending us missionaries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.
Because much of the world lives with less than the typical citizen of the United States, and because the Lord is the Master of His mission, there are many stories of miracles and sacrifices that have brought these missionaries to our country. This week I would like you to celebrate with me the story, yes, the sacrifice, of Missionary Gugssa Biru.
Gugssa Biru is a missionary for the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Before that, Gugssa was a leader in the Mekane Yesu Lutheran Church – a church body in Ethiopia, East Africa, with more than three times the number of members as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, more than twice the number of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In the video taped interview I did with Missionary Biru he told me he heard the gospel later in life, as a young man. Hearing about a God of Love, who loved him enough to give His life for him, was a life changing event. That message made him want to give his life so that others would know that love.
When he graduated from college with an engineering degree he decided that before he began his profession he wanted to work for a while for his congregation. It had been ten years since his life had been changed hearing the good news of Jesus, and Gugssa wanted to give a tithe of his faith life back to the Lord- he would spend a year working full time for his church, at no cost to the church. And he would tell no one that this year would be his gift. That meant no means of a regular income. He would live like many of the poor in Ethiopia, people who had no guaranteed income. The Lord would have to provide. And He did.
When Missionary Gugssa was telling me about the year he gave to the Lord he was smiling from ear to ear. There were difficult times, of course – but during that year the congregation where he worked grew from a little over 100 to over 1,000 members. And Gugssa grew in his faith, enough so that, instead of becoming and engineer, he became a full time missionary.
Professor Joel Elowsky recently shared a quote from John Chrysostom, the fourth century bishop of Constantinople (Istanbul): “Nothing suits one for spiritual leadership more than being able to suffer with others.” That is the sacfrice that is needed to be a missionary.
In my observation, no great ministry ever happened without someone making a great sacrifice. This is what St. Paul saw in Jesus, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be held onto, but made Himself nothing…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have alost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him…”
You can read more in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapters two and four.
God accepts Jesus’ perfect sacrifice in place of all our imperfect, waffling, hedging, grudging sacrifices. That is the Sacrice that is needed. That is the sacrifice that we all need.