More than a decade ago, a Gateway employee wrote a book detailing her experiences as a missionary in Romania just after Communism collapsed. She was invited into the country as a university lecturer and given freedom to speak about democracy, human rights, and the gospel. After her first presentation, which included the gospel, a Romanian professor replied, “We wait you. Why did you take so long to come?” Another professor humorously added, “When I was a child, we used to say that even if the Americans were coming in a wheelbarrow, they should be here by now.” It was poignantly funny only because liberation had finally come.
When I read this moving book, the three-word title captured my mind and has ricocheted there for a decade. Those three plaintive words—we wait you—summarize what so many must feel after hearing the gospel. What took you so long to get here? If you have known this good news, how could you not move heaven and earth to get it to me? What was so important you couldn’t come faster to tell me about Jesus?
Those three words—we wait you—haunt me. They come to mind when I am making ministry decisions about allocating resources, when I am dealing with people who insist some lesser issue must be my priority, and while listening to endless debates about temporal issues more related to personal preference than gospel expansion. As Southern Baptists prepare for our annual meeting next week in Nashville, perhaps we will have a more productive meeting if these three words occupy our minds—we wait you.
People who have never heard the name of Jesus, much less the gospel, are waiting for good news. Their lives are broken, distressed, and hopeless. They are enduring rather than thriving. They are seeking answers in religion, substance abuse, sexual pursuits, material gain, or some other vanity. We have good news for them, the responsibility to reach them, and a viable means—the total program of the Southern Baptist denomination—to get the job done.
We wait you. May those words be convicting and motivating as we meet together next week.
We Wait You by Taryn Hutchison (Pleasant Word Publishing: Enumclaw, WA), 2008.