A New Kind of Leader

The scene in Exodus 32 is very interesting.  Moses was spending time with God, listening.  He had been away from those he was leading for 40 days.  The people were becoming disgruntled without their leader around.  Imagine if your leader, in your business, home, church, or whatever realm you are in, decided to take 40 days to be alone or “to seek God.”  How would you or your colleagues behave?  The people grew so restless that they called Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man, and complained: “Come, make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (vs 1) And Aaron, under pressure, listened to their complaint and followed them.  Probably a leadership lesson there … lead from the inside out not the outside in.  But back to the point…the people wanted a God who they could tangibly see and follow.  So, Aaron built a golden calf.  And they worshipped it.  And God disciplined them.   

Many of the world’s peoples today live in spiritual darkness following the gods of the age, idols of all kinds that have made their way into many folk religions … Islam, Buddhism, etc.  There is the combination of the more formal kind of religion with “folk” beliefs generally in shaman, the Spirit world, idols or amulets, and a host of other syncretistic behaviours.  They not only believe in the basic tenets of, for example, Buddhism, but they also have a mixture of other “folk” beliefs thrown in that are keeping them in spiritual bondage and fear. To believe in the one true God and Jesus Christ, His Son, is a challenge to their worldview as they can’t see him or touch him tangibly. 

On the one hand the apostle Paul writes: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  (2 Corinthians 4:4).  And on the other hand, Peter writes to the believers who were suffering in exile: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy....” (1 Peter 1:8) 

What stands between these two?  The effective witness of the gospel among people and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives: “…by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God…for God, who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:2b, 6-7)

Every year, Pioneers Canada, hosts two or three orientations to help train and prepare missionaries to go to some of these challenging places, places where people often have a confusing set of folk beliefs.   We do this in part because one of our aspirations is to develop men and women into leaders who are biblically grounded, culturally agile, and growing in character and intimacy with Jesus Christ.  These three phrases guide our curriculum for the week we are with our candidates, so that they are certain of what they believe.  We are thrilled that the Lord of the Harvest continues to raise up men and women and that we get to partner with their churches in sending them.  If you or someone you know is interested in serving short- or long-term among those in these folk religions, contact us at go@pioneers.ca.