Tom and Gayle Shook, who serve with Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Reachglobal, were recent guest speakers at Faith Bible Church where we now attend. They began their presentation with a photo taken at their wedding in Las Vegas, underneath which was written out this verse: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (I Cor. 1:27). The passage goes on to say… “and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God” (vv. 28,29).
When Tom and Gayle were married, he was an unbeliever and she a struggling Christian. In the photo, he had very long, curly hair, looking like a hippie from the 60’s! But, she had a Christian sibling who continued sharing with them and inviting them to church. One Sunday Tom was convicted of his sinful lifestyle, repented, and received Christ into his life as Savior and Lord. Then at a New Year’s Eve service, they made a commitment to God saying, “We will go anywhere and do anything you want us to, Lord.” Soon after that as they were looking through a list of countries to pray for, they landed on Mongolia and Tom says, “That’s where God wants us to go!” Well, if you know your geography, Mongolia is located between Russia and China, and at that time it was still under communist domination and there were no known believers in the country.
But, as they had promised God, they went there and began befriending the people, thinking of how God would use their serving them to open the door to share the Gospel. Tom said that he and Gayle were actually a bit cocky and proud of how they had followed the Lord and sacrificed for Him and how God would thus mightily use them. He would, but not before He humbled them. They happened to be in Mongolia during the time of the fall of communism, and the country was in economic chaos. Some people had pocketsfull of money, but there was nothing to buy. Inspite of the situation, the Shooks decided to remain there with their three young boys. Then, one of the boys, while looking for something with a candle for light (they had no electricity), accidentally set the house on fire and it burned down. The Mongolians asked if they would now return to America. They said, no, we will stay, but we will need your help. Well, guess what? The Mongolians proved to be very caring and provided them with shelter, clothes and food–and it proved to be the way in which the door opened for them to share the gospel, but only after they were greatly humbled before God and those they were serving. Soon there was the first convert to Christianity in Mongolia and before long a church was meeting.
After developing some leaders in the newly formed church, the Shooks moved to another location, further north, in Mongolia, and again lived among the people, waiting for an open door of sharing Christ. It was very difficult for them as their boys had now grown up and headed back to the States for college. They experienced the death of some loved ones back home and felt very helpless and lonely so far away in Mongolia. But, they persevered, finally led someone to faith in Christ, and soon a church was planted. After 17 years in Mongolia they left behind a vibrant church with national leadership.
There’s no limit to what God can do through us when we commit our ways to Him, saying, as did the Shooks, “Lord, we will go anywhere and do anything for you.” But, we also must be humbled and acknowledge that it is not about us and our skills and abilities, but all about Him, and He will do what is necessary for us to realize that. Then we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
The Shooks have recently been helping with the cleanup in Japan (and resulting ministries) caused by the Tsunami, and now feel God is calling them to a ministry to those in North Asia. It is exciting to see what God is doing in countries which have been closed to the Gospel. He is definitely building His Church from every tribe and nation. We can all be part of that in some way if we humble ourselves and make ourselves available to Him, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong…that no man should boast before God” (I Cor. 9:21,26,27). Do you feel foolish, weak, inadequate? Hey, you qualify! Tell Him you are available.