2017 Indonesia – Elizabeth Hogsten

Going After the One
(audio mp3)

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” – Matthew 18:12-13

I had an amazing time in Manado, Indonesia. I have not been able to go out on short-term missions in three-and-a-half years, so for me personally this was a long awaited trip, and it did not disappoint. There are many aspects of the trip I could go on and on about: The transformation of my team from a group of strangers to a family full of joy and love; the beauty of mountainous Manado; the lovely, amazing local ministers we had the privilege of ministering with and getting to know. But the greatest joy I had in Indonesia was simply the privilege of witnessing and being a part of God’s powerful, far-reaching love.

There was a lot of rolling with the punches in Manado. There were many times our ministry schedule changed last minute, and there were many times the ministry time looked different than we expected. Often the groups we ministered to were smaller than we expected, simply because a lot of college students were on vacation, this was our church’s first trip to the region, and so on. However, something God impressed upon my heart throughout the trip was the value of one person in His eyes. He goes after the one.

One of the first nights of the trip, as the team was praying together for the next day’s ministry, I found myself in tears, crying out to God that if even one person was touched by His love during our week in Manado, then all the sacrifices we had made to come there were worth it. I realized that was God’s heart. To Him, one person would be worth sending an entire team across the ocean for.

Of course, we ministered to more than just one person. We had the privilege of bringing freedom to a number of college students holding onto unforgiveness and the shame of hidden sexual sin. Dozens of people cried during altar calls at revival services as they were touched by God’s love, and 41 people raised their hands to choose Jesus for the first time during a ministry time into which the team––and I personally––had sowed much prayer. These fruits showed just a glimpse, I believe, of the work God was doing in people’s hearts throughout the preaching and relational ministry of our trip.

But the moments that stick out to me most are individuals that I had the privilege of ministering to during the trip. The ones God sent me to. The young woman who collapsed into my arms crying at the altar during our first revival service. The restless, curious boy peering all around at the people up at the altar I found myself unexpectedly sobbing over. The bubbly college student who went from enthusiastically welcoming us to her church to boldly marching up to the altar first to wiping streaming tears of joy from her face. The humble, stoic Papuan man whose feet I had the privilege of washing during our final service in Indonesia. As I prayed over his feet, feeling the heaviness of the mistreatment he has experienced as a dark-skinned minority in Indonesia, feeling the depth of God’s love for him, I was overcome by emotion. Even if I had come all the way to Indonesia only to restore dignity to this one man by washing his feet, to show him how much God values and loves him through my tears, it would have been well worth it.

That is the extravagance and love of our God. He comes to transform not only nations and peoples, but to reach the one. No one is too out of the way or obscure for Him to find. And He rejoices over that one with as much delight and fervor as if they were the only person alive.

His deep love is what motivates me––compels me––to live a life that is different than what the world tells me to live. The world says to focus on myself, on my potential, on my desires, but I find that I can’t. Before I consider any of those things, I must first look at the ones God loves––every single one of them––and then I know that whatever I do in my life must be about them, too. Whether that means flying across oceans to share God’s love, simply being intentional in showing kindness to those I cross paths with in my daily life, or faithfully remembering in my prayers those who the world has so easily overlooked.
I was so blessed to be an instrument of His love in Indonesia, and I hope to continue to be an instrument of His love wherever I go, that more sons and daughters may be brought to glory.