Ellen Got the Better Deal

The Joy of Worldwide Ministry

I just finished a delightful meeting with two of our church’s missionaries to Mexico, Sam Hornbrook Sr. and his son Sam, Jr.  They were here in Lafayette for the memorial service of Sam Sr.’s wife Ellen who recently was promoted to glory.  Later today they and their families will be flying back to Mexico, but they wanted to spend some time praying and fellowshipping together before they left.  I was reminded again of the privilege of having friends and coworkers who are serving Christ around the world.  Because our God loves the nations, He allows His children the privilege of being involved in relationships and activities that literally surround the globe.  I was also struck how, because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, these men could sorrow, “yet not as those who have no hope” (1 Thesalonians 4:13).

The Challenges of Ministering for Christ this Side of Heaven

At one point in the conversation, I asked my friends how I might be able to pray for them.  We discussed several personal and ministry requests.  They have a lot on their plates right now for sure.  Then Sam Sr. began talking about something I had not considered.  He asked me to pray for Sam, Jr. and his family this summer when they cross the border from Mexico to the U.S. in their van to begin their year of furlough here in Lafayette.

Both men began telling me about the dangers along the roads near the border.  The leaders of the various drug cartels are regularly fighting with one another and the police and there is always the possibility of driving into some sort of skirmish along the road.  There is also the issue of a rogue leader and his band of thugs setting up random roadblocks where they demand money, your vehicle, or any of your possessions they find appealing.  The wife of a missionary who recently refused to stop at one of these roadblocks was shot and killed.  These people are wicked, ruthless, and often a law unto themselves.

I had honestly never thought to pray about this particular aspect of missionary life.  But you can be sure now that I will pray much more fervently for Sam Jr., his wife, and their two daughters when they cross the border this June on their way home to Lafayette.  What an incredible sacrifice.

Back to Ellen

After we had prayed together about the many challenges we were facing in this sin-cursed world, I said to my friends, “Boys, I think Ellen got the better deal here.”  That’s true.  Because of her sweet faith in Christ, we can be sure that for Ellen, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”  (2 Corinthians 5:8).  In heaven there will be no random roadblocks or senseless murders.

As my friends walked to their car, I thought about why they’re willing to face such dangers and hardships.  I think I know.  It’s because they want the men and women of Mexico to have the same hope Ellen had.  They seem to be more determined then ever to accomplish that mission.  I am too.

Steve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.