What a zinger! No, what a ZINGER!! You do know what a zinger is don’t you? It’s a comment or question that just cuts right to the bone. It jolts the conversation, slaps you in the proverbial face and pushes the reset button in your thinking. Well, that’s the type of question Dr. Jerry Rankin posed to me in the year 2001.
At that time, Dr. Rankin was serving as the President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was at the First Baptist Church, Gulfport, Mississippi, the church I was serving as Senior Pastor, to lead a weekend focus on international missions. We had gone to dinner prior to the evening service and as we enjoyed a delicious plate of Gulf Coast seafood he just blurted it out. Right there before God and everybody he asked me, “Chuck, where did you go on your last international mission trip?” Then he sat back and waited for my answer. Well, my mind went blank. I stuttered, stammered and stalled searching my mind feverishly for a place somewhere on the globe. I was confident I had been active in international missions but for the life of me I couldn’t readily identify the destination of my most recent trip. Was it in Asia, Europe or South America? My mind was racing through a catalogue of cities and countries searching desperately for an answer. Then, Dr. Rankin broke the deafening silence when he said “If you can’t remember the destination of your last international mission trip, it’s been too long!” And you know what, he was right!!
In that convicting moment I realized my sin. I had allowed myself to become so consumed with pastoring my church that I had lost sight of the “nations” that desperately needed Jesus. I mean there were sermons to prepare and counseling sessions to lead and business meetings to moderate and committee meetings to attend and hospitals to visit; all important tasks but none the most important task. I had become so busy as a Senior Pastor that I had taken my eyes off of “Go and make disciples of all nations…” That focus which should have been primary in my ministry had been pushed off my radar screen by the routine of stateside ministry. I was living in disobedience to the Great Commission.
So, today I pose to you the same zinger God used to convict me of my sin in 2001. “Where did you go on your last international mission trip?” If you can’t remember, it’s been too long!!