Romans 15 contains Paul’s statements about his desire to go to Spain and hopes that the Roman Church could be of some benefit to him in that endeavor. I have always found Paul’s statements of his work being completed to be bewildering. He says that he has completed the message of the good news of Christ (vs. 19). He also remarks that “I no longer have any room for work in these regions… (vs. 23).” I have always thought Paul had some vision problems because I’m undoubtedly sure their were still lost people in Asia minor that needed the Gospel. Paul is basically communicating the truth that his work as a “pioneer preacher” has come to an end in those regions. Paul means that “his presence is no longer required in the regions in which he has labored up till now, since in them the pioneer work of evangelism which is his special task has already been accomplished.” Paul was not called to preach the Gospel to every human being living in those areas. His role was to establish Churches and lay the foundation of the Gospel to the Gentiles in those areas. His calling from God did not constitute a command to stay until every last person was a believer (although that would have been great).
Thinking about Paul’s experience, I have mused over the fact that the Lord calls his people to different places for different purposes for different periods of time. I am called to be involved with Missions when I finish all my schooling. Does that mean that I will teach in a seminary/Bible college furthering the cause of God’s mission in the world or die in a poor, mud hut preaching the Gospel amongst some unreached people group? Such decisions are up to the Lord and are not static. I may be called to one place for a specific time and then the Lord may move me to the next. God has called me to the service of teaching and equipping his church. I know I am supposed to teach God’s Word; I am to equip God’s people for missions which is a life of worship. I believe theology is vital to that equipment (go here). My professional career will work in concert alongside the local church preparing them to better meet the needs of a lost world.
I currently reside in New Orleans, Louisiana. The city is known for being one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. The city is full of both Blues and Jazz, good food, odd people as-well-as gun violence and sex trafficking. This is where I am attending seminary. This is my city. For this time in my life, I am called to be here, fully here as Jim Elliot would admonish. I serve as a youth and college director at Grace Presbyterian Church (GPC) in Metairie, LA under the guidance of an elder board that loves God’s people and cherishes God’s Word. The Church has been both warm and receptive of me. I have about 15-20 youth whom I adore under my tutelage. We meet twice a week to study God’s word and plans are in motion to continue ministries within our needy city. Frederick Buechner once wrote that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I have been daily enriched and blessed as I have ministered alongside and to GPC youth and college. I cannot believe that I get to do this for a living. It really is a joy.