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Most of us have been in situations where God was leading but did not give us

all the answers we needed. Key elements were missing. Perhaps He put a

person in our life whom we found to be more of a challenge than we wanted.

As pastors, He may have sent us to a particular church only where we

encountered more pain than pleasure. Worse still, some may have married the

partner He sent only to find fighting and jealousy awaiting them. Please know

that I am not suggesting God is responsible for sin; nor am I speaking of

situations which resulted from our own foolish decisions. I speak of God’s

having perfect foreknowledge of all things and yet refusing to share certain

facts with us which were vital to our well-being. He may have joined us to a

difficult business partner because He planned to use us in their rescue--and the

effort failed.

Let me illustrate what I mean by God’s giving only part of the information:

Bruce Olson, one of the greatest, most successful missionaries of modern

times, obeyed God implicitly, and as a single, 19 year-old young man went

alone to the jungles of South America. God had called him to take the gospel

to Columbia’s stone-age Motoloni Indians. Bruce’s decision was not a small

one; the Motoloni tribe murdered every stranger who came among them--

including natives from other tribes. Before leaving home Bruce carefully

made arrangements to be met at the airport, to be housed, and be assisted in

his missionary preparations. When he arrived in South America, none of that

happened. No one met him. Nothing was provided. Instead, he soon found

himself as a penniless vagabond on the streets of a strange and dangerous city.

In a short time Bruce was without food and no place to go. Finally, he sought

refuge with men whom he later discovered were gangsters and professional

thieves. Several years passed–then after fording jungle rivers alone, fighting

snakes and poisonous insects, and crossing the towering Andes Mountains on

foot–Bruce finally entered the Motoloni territory. His welcome by the tribe

was their shooting him with an arrow, imprisoning and nearly starving him to

death. In pain and isolated with the most backward people on earth, Bruce had

long hours to reconsider what he had done. He had to deal with the memory of

his parents ridiculing his stupid "call of God," accusing him of being a fool,

and of wasting his youth on religious fanaticism. Now alone and sick, the

question pounded his heart: "Why had not God rescued him or forewarned

him of these troubles before he left home? Why?! Why?!"

Later, after the Motoloni’s had begrudgingly allowed Bruce to live and his

ministry was beginning to take root, he was captured by Communist guerillas,

tied nearly one year to a jungle tree with his hands behind his back. Even

then, Bruce did not relent on his obedience to God. How does Bruce involve

us? While our circumstance may not be as intense as his, we have all been in

crisis situations. That being so, let me ask some important questions: When

God left you without answers and did not come to your rescue, did you panic

or did you trust Him? Did you get angry at God and abandon your faith?

During that painful process, did you realize that God actually had two projects

in mind: The one He told you about--His plan to use you--and the other (an

unannounced one), a plan to change you? God knows that your preparation is

as important as your willingness to go. One without the other is dangerous.

Because of that, God does not call anyone to represent Him and leave them as

they are. Everyone has to be changed. Some of the greatest saints in Scripture

walked alone through the "valley of the shadow of death."

Before going further, let me emphasize this point: God never causes someone

else to sin so He can teach us a lesson. Never! Where sin is active, God is

innocent. As in the case of Bruce Olson who obeyed God and was tragically

abused I have a question: Was all that pain necessary? Under no

circumstances did God make the savages commit sin so He could "get Bruce’s

attention" or make him more humble. But, God is sovereign! Can He do

anything? No!, He emphatically declares that He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Hear

this: The sovereignty of God will never violate the Covenant of God. That

would constitute falsehood on God’s part and cannot happen. What He has

provided in Covenant, He will not trespass with another conflicting Word. He

said, "My Covenant will I not break nor alter the thing that is gone out of my

lips" (Psalm 89:34). At the same time, when God called Bruce into the jungle

He never promised him safety. Bruce knew all that before he left home.

With that understanding about man’s sin and God’s sovereignty, let’s look at

key Biblical examples of God’s having provided only partial-information to

others: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary

was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child

of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not

wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord

appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to

take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy

Spirit.’" Matthew 1:18-20.

Question: How long did Joseph have to wait from the time of discovering

Mary’s pregnancy until the angel made the explanation? Was the delay

necessary? What was accomplished in Joseph during that time of tragic

despair? Read on, such delaying-tactics for Joseph are not ended: "Now when

the wise men had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in

a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt,

and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to

destroy Him’" (Matthew 2:13). Much later, we read, "But when Herod was

dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

saying ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of

Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.’" Matthew


Joseph returned to Israel with the limited information he had--but, again, the

angel did not tell him the full story. On reaching their homeland, Joseph,

Mary, and Jesus, were stopped abruptly with the discovery that Archelaus,

Herod’s son, now occupied the throne. He was as ruthless as his father. Why

did the angel neglect to tell Joseph all the facts? Why make the man wait to

learn the whole truth from the secular world? (Matthew 2:21,22) Had He so

chosen, the angel’s first appearance could have alleviated months of Joseph’s

pain. Instead, Joseph walked through what we can best call "progressive

revelation." Why was the angel’s message given in two parts? We do not


We find a parallel of this "progressive revelation" soon after the break-up of

Paul and Barnabas’ joint ministry: "Now when they had gone through Phrygia

and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in

Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the

Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and

pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after

he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia ..." Acts

16, 6.

There is an identical parallel with Joseph’s traveling in Egypt and Paul’s

traveling in Turkey. With careful study you may see the same pattern in your

own traveling. During an important missionary journey, Paul was forbidden to

preach in Phrgia, Galatia, or anywhere in Asia. No other instruction was given.

He faced a harrowing desert with the voice of God silent. He might have

feared he missed the will of God in coming to Turkey. Perhaps, he thought, he

should have sailed to Crete instead. In the confusion, Paul attempted to visit

Bithynia and Mysia, and again without explanation, God stopped him. For a

period of weeks Paul was left without direction and no response to his prayer.

Finally, when Paul reached Troas and fell into troubled sleep, a vision

appeared in the night and a man in Grecian dress pleaded with him to come to

Macedonia to help them. All the while Paul had been traveling in the right

direction but did not know it. As a consequence of God’s postponement, Paul

went through weeks of confusion and uncertainty. This was a trying time for

the man--as are such times for us. Why such unnecessary pain for those who

are doing the Lord’s work? God remains silent. He did so then and He does


Speaking of one’s having only part of the needed imminently, John the Baptist

was confused about his own identity. He told the Pharisees he was not the

promised Elijah. John 1:21. Jesus said he was. Matthew 11:14. Who was

right? The fact was, John did not know he was the promised prophet, Elijah–

because God never bothered to tell him. Missing information? You will not

find a better example of that mental gap than the man of whom Jesus said,

"Among those born of women there has not risen a greater than John the

Baptist." Matthew 11:11. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get all the answers

you want.

But, why?! Why does God withhold needed information from us? Admittedly,

we do not know, but it seems God has two projects in mind: The first is to

prepare us. Such preparation requires change. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones used to

say to his Westminster congregation in London, "The most dangerous thing

that can happen to a man is for him to succeed before he is ready." R.T.

Kendall, the pastor who followed Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones at Westminster, has

quoted that to me many times. And I believe it! Joseph, who was Jesus’ step-

father, had the greatest honor and responsibility any human parent has ever

been given. God knew exactly how to prepare him for that assignment. So,

with Paul; changes took place in the desert of Turkey he never understood and

God never bothered to explain. That happened with Bruce Olson in the jungles

of South America. Hopefully, it is happening to you and me.

Before God finished, Bruce Olson’s ministry was imminently successful and

gave the world an example of what the Holy Spirit can do with one obledient

servant who is willing to believe and obey the Lord’s command. Here are

some of Bruce’s original accomplishments with the Motilonis: Though now

out of date, here are some of the early statistics: The Tribe was converted to

Christ, then made peace with their bitterest enemies, and evangelized 18 other

tribes. Today, in Motoloni territority there are more than 28 modern Medical

Stations and 50 Motilone-Bari Health Centers in the jungle that are staffed by

native doctors.

They have established 45 Bilingual Schools, Spanish and Tribal, publish a

newspaper in their own tongue, operate 42 Agricultural Centers, and have

more than 250 Motilone graduate- missionaries actively preaching the gospel

in 22 different Latin American tongues. The Tribe now has a representative in

Columbia’s National State Assembly and another is the Director of the Office

Of Indian Affairs for the National Government in Northeast Columbia. When

Colombian earthquakes left 180,000 homeless, a Motilone Medical Team of

native physicians and nurses gave assistance to more than 5,000 victims.

Bruce, the "fanatical" young man whose parent’s accused him of being a fool,

has been given Honorary Doctorate Degrees and addressed the United


In his early days Bruce met a young missionary girl who was as devoted to the

Motilones as was he. They became engaged, planned to devote their lives to

the Tribe. On a return trip to civilization she was killed in an automobile

accident. It was weeks before Bruce learned she was never coming back. She

was the only love of his life and after her death he never married. Did God

know her death was coming? Yes. Did He cause it? No! Why didn’t He tell

Bruce? His silence is the great mercy of His sovereignty—forcing us into a

life of unrelenting prayer and dependence on Him. Without His silence we

would continue in our independent and God-forsaking Ways. Of those crisis,

the poet said it this way:

God's purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste—

But sweet will be the flower!"

Thank God for men like Bruce who are willing to obey God over the

opposition of parents, friends, and in their obedience help change the world. I

met Bruce ('Bruchko' as the Tribe calls him)in Chicago years later at a

Missionary Event during one of his rare returns to civilization. We talked

about his first Motoloni convert, a young man named Bobibarashora who

experienced the Holy Spirit’s radical anointing so powerfully that he was

changed–forever. For days he visited isolated parts of the Tribe, singing his

hours-long testimony of being converted to Christ. It was he, as much as

Bruce, who presented Jesus to the Tribe and converted them. Tragically, he

was killed by invaders wronglyfully entering the private territority of the

Motolonis. Unknown to me at the time of my visit with Bruce, God had other

plans for blessing me through Bobibarashora. I was in a restaurant in West

Florida when a stranger came in and placed a long, reed-like piece of wood in

my hands. "What is this?," I asked. Almost reverently he replied, "This is the

personal spear that belonged to Bobibarshora–I want you to have it ..." I broke

to tears! Thank God for Missionaries!


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