In 2005, a fresh-out-of-prison graffiti artist was asked to paint some murals in the office of a small startup in Palo Alto, California. As payment, the artist was offered thousands of dollars in cash or company stock. Eight and half minutes of searching Google will tell you that even though the artist thought the startup was stupid, he made a gamble and chose company stock. In 2012, when Facebook went public with their stocks, the artist’s shares were worth around $200 million.
It’s nice when things work out like that.
But that’s not usually the way it works. Whether you’re picking up produce at the store, beginning a new relationship, or buying stocks, there’s no guarantee that an investment will live up to your expectations. Sometimes you score big. Other times you cut open your farmer’s market avocados and find they’re the color of your toddler’s diarrhea.
The risk of failure makes it difficult to know how we should invest. As we grow older, we become a little less daring. We have a little less faith in goodness and lot more belief in the real world.
Unlike us though, Jesus was the kind of guy who took risks on unlikely investments. He was the kind of guy who believed in the little things, not as a philosophy to cross-stitch and hang above the toilet, but as part of who He was. It caused Him to applaud women who emptied not just the last couple pennies out of their wallets, but their hearts onto the offering plate. It caused Him to multiply a hungry boy’s lunch into a picnic for five thousand people. He had maximum belief in those who felt minimized or that their actions were small. He wasn’t a cynical gambler. He was a small gift investor and believer.
Jesus was the kind of guy who took risks on unlikely investments.
At Light Bearers, we have a passion for bringing the gospel to the entire world through the little opportunities we have every day. One of the most cost-effective methods we’ve found to do this is printing and sending gospel literature in containers overseas. If you look at one tract, it doesn’t look like much. How far can a piece of paper possibly go? Well, that tract gets put with another and then another and then another and then ano—you get the idea. Those tracts get put into boxes and those boxes fill up a container that carries roughly 2 million pieces of literature. The containers are then sent to conferences and divisions all over the world.
The East-Central Africa Division (ECD) believes in the power of little things too, so much so that they want every member—from the oldest pastor to the guy whose clothes are still wet from baptism—to be involved in evangelism. It’s part of an evangelistic initiative called Total Member Involvement (TMI) and they’re using Light Bearers literature as part of the process.
Made up of 11 countries, the ECD is using the tracts in a variety of settings. Some literature is divided between individual churches so the members can easily access it as they do personal evangelism. Some are used in large-scale evangelistic initiatives. For example, in Rwanda, over 2,100 evangelistic campaigns were held simultaneously, and over 100,000 people were baptized. A container of literature is being used to follow up with these new members. Kenya and Tanzania are on the same track as well, with thousands of evangelistic sites organized and a plan to use literature during the meetings.
When it comes to investing in the gospel, there will always be a return…
The tracts are also going where people aren’t free to attend an evangelistic series. In Kenyan prisons, the literature is being warmly received. In fact, one prison was given a two-acre piece of land because they had so many inmates study the lessons and they established a church.
When it comes to earthly pursuits, there’s always a level of risk that comes with giving our time and resources, whether it’s to a social media startup or a new relationship. But when it comes to investing in the gospel, there will always be a return, and though you may not see it till heaven, it will be worth way more than $200 million. No matter what your past experience is with people, careers, or business endeavors, Jesus is always worth investing in. A smile, a tract, helping someone change a tire—there will never be a time where it won’t be worth the energy and love it takes to share who He is with someone else, even in the smallest of ways.
“So shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV).