“Make no small plans. They will not move the hearts of men.”
Whatever else Elton Trueblood may have said, those two sentences are right on. They resonate with me in my work, and with what moves my own heart. I have no brothers. I’ve never had a successful relationship. My interactions with the opposite gender are mostly related to ministry. Since I’m not in college any more I rarely hang out with the guy friends who were, not so long ago, an integral part of my life. Still I recognize the difference a man of God can make. I have a good father and I’ve met other good men, young and less young, who exhibit the powerful spirit of a man following Jesus. Often, too often, the stories presented to us are of men abusing their own character as a way to abuse others. In those stories power is not a gift, it is a heavy burden struck upon whoever these sorts of men choose as their victims. The everyday lives of millions of women are the evidence that both genders fail to treat each other equally. Genuine equality is still a rarity between us. That’s not the power I mean.
When I consider the purpose of my ministry in Australia & New Zealand, I see a wide vision and a detailed movement. The wide vision is to prevent the demand for human trafficking. The wide vision is to equip the Australian Church and the New Zealander Church to reverse the vulnerability of those who could become trafficked, traffickers, or part of the supply & demand. It is important that Jesus Christ is always considered the number one way to do this. Attempts to use money, education, and good intentions for this have proven themselves incomplete. The Holy Spirit alone can truly change a heart and Jesus is our only way to salvation.
The detailed movement is about men in Australian and New Zealander churches. Men with pornography addictions. Men who have committed themselves to a holy God but struggle with holiness. Men whose contribution to the global slave trade grows larger and darker because it is hidden beneath heaps of fear and shame. Some of these men yearn for the freedom of a holy spirit. Others are content in their darkness, content to speak faith with their lips but indulge in sin. Some will turn away from God out of choice, others because they think they have none. These men are not free. These men have potential.
It is fairly easy to get women to fight human trafficking. Or at least, it can be much easier than convincing men. This is not a mark of superiority but a special gift, the glory of which belongs to God, that over history women so often fight for what they believe in. I love being a woman. I love that women are created in the image of God and therefore display unique qualities about Him. Women easily understand the horror of slavery and easily, bravely, volunteer to stand up against it. But I do not choose the easy way. Men have potential to halt the demand for sex and labor trafficking. Men have the potential to carry out justice. Men have potential for revolution, revelation, and holy power. Each time I meet a man who reflects this potential, a man who is utterly human but all in for following Christ, I am driven to see this multiplied.
In women the spark of justice finds plenty of kindling. The fire rises in no time, though who can say if it will be allowed to die. In men I see the spark take time. It’s a slow, cautious burn. Last year I saw it in the eyes of a New Zealander man who was a leader in his church. He listened without comment but I saw it. The spark of justice was deliberate and careful. Who can say if it will be allowed to flourish? I’m overjoyed to say that in this man it has flourished, and he is the main reason I was invited to return to one specific congregation.
If we’re going to do all that our God tells us to do (Isaiah 58) the hearts of humankind must be moved. And if I’m going to follow my specific assignment, the hearts of men must be changed. This is why I can’t wait to return to ministry in the southern hemisphere. I’m taking Trueblood’s advice and regardless of what you or I deem possible, I will continue to make no small plans. Great plans are best for men with great potential…
and the Church of Australia & New Zealand has men with great potential.