Sovereign God remolds two old ‘jars of clay’
Editor’s note: Once a month throughout 2005 The Pathway will present columns from Southern Baptist missionaries around the world encouraging Missouri Southern Baptists to support the Cooperative Program. This is the fourth in this continuing series.
By Bill and Carol Bowers
April 5, 2005
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
– 2 Cor. 4:7
The more years we spend on the international mission field we are finding just how much God delights in remolding these old jars of clay. We are Bill and Carol Bowers serving with the Durban Urban Evangelism Team in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, for two years now.
God chose to send us overseas for long-term service in 1997 at the age of 50. Depending on your perspective, some of you would say that is quite old and others might say that we were just in our prime. How does God take old jars of clay and remold them?
We believe that God uses past experiences to shape us and then He uses current circumstances to remold us to fulfill his purposes for just this season. What is even more exciting and amazing is how God shapes us in ways far beyond our imagination. He takes our weaknesses and shows us just how strong He can be in unusual circumstances.
Let us share with you a little bit about how God has been remolding us just for this time and season. God took a farm boy and girl and placed them in a huge metropolis. How can that work? He has allowed us to work with Baptist churches similar in size to those with which we worked back in Missouri! Also, the makeup of this city is such that as you pass from one part to another, you pass through unoccupied areas of either wild vegetation or sugar cane fields.
At first, Carol somewhat resented the title of “church and home worker” as she had always been employed with work outside the home. God has reshaped her so that now she enjoys and takes pride in using her home as a place of ministry. God has remolded her to put priority in her “quiet time,” teaching her to see how important prayer is as a precursor to ministry. Thus He is using her to teach others how to pray as they go. God has also shaped her to use her writing abilities to serve as the Team Prayer Advocate, writing prayer requests that are sent around the world via the Internet.
Carol has always loved working with children or teens, which has been shaped into opportunities to learn how to work with children of the Zulu culture and even to write lessons for Friends of Jesus Clubs used with children all over Southern Africa.
Having been a director of missions’ (DOM) wife for 19 years in Missouri has given Carol a great concern for ministers’ wives and this is shaping into starting a fellowship with South African ministers’ wives beginning with a study of Lana Packer’s book study, Wives Making a Difference in Marriage.
Sometimes God has a giant-sized task involved with the remolding of the clay. Bill’s many years of serving as a DOM in Missouri has prepared him for administrative work and supervision. When first asked to serve as team leader for the Durban Urban Evangelism team, he greatly resisted the idea. But the Holy Spirit would not allow him to let go of it. Just recently he has taken on the task of team strategy leader for our nine-member team.
Reshaping of an old DOM who has a heart for pastors and evangelism has given Bill an opportunity to redirect his training of pastors and lay pioneer evangelists toward “pioneer evangelism.” This is a concept involving lay leadership in starting Bible studies that propagate themselves among the lost.
Taking a farm boy and placing him in cities of several million population has gotten Bill way out of his comfort zone. The stretching and molding process has given him a heart for reaching people in multi-family housing through the use of evangelistic block parties, a new concept in South Africa.
God is not finished with us yet! He continues to remold us and shape us for the tasks at hand. Please pray for us in regard to each of the above activities. We are weak but He is strong! (Bill and Carol Bowers serve as International Mission Board missionaries in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)