Can we measure the immeasurable?

We’re very used to measuring our successes. It’s how we figure out if something is effective and if it’s achieved what it set out to do. So when it comes to mission, it can be easy to fall into a numbers game.

“How many churches did you plant last year? How many people did you share the gospel with? How many food parcels did you hand out during the pandemic? How many migrants have you housed?”

Measurable goals are no bad thing. It’s important to know if a ministry is meeting a need, or if it’s doing no good! However, mission can’t always be measured with graphs or figures. God promises us quite the opposite, in fact.

“To him who is able to do immeasurably more”.

Immeasurable means too large, too extensive, or too extreme to measure. So our measure of success (like counting the number of food parcels) is often far too small, limited and tame to measure what God is doing in his huge master plan.

The Hollands at the circus

The stranded circus

At the start of the pandemic, the Hollands family had to choose between flying back to the UK, or living through a period of great uncertainty in Colombia, only weeks after their placement with Latin Link began. They felt confident in their calling and decided to stay, but they knew this wouldn’t be the trip they signed up for.

A few days later, a circus rode into town and set up just down the street from where Dan and Katharine and their two young children were based. Then Colombia went into a strict lockdown and the circus troupe was left stranded there.

And with that, God had teed up the most unusual setting for a missional encounter – one that the Hollands family had not planned out.

In the weeks and months that followed, their placement church began taking food parcels to the circus community. Dan and Katharine took their children along, who promptly befriended the children there.

And before long, faith-fuelled conversations were happening, Bible studies started, and discipleship opportunities formed. God’s love was shared between two groups of people who should never have crossed paths.

Dan and Katharine had plans for their time Colombia, but they certainly didn’t involve sharing Jesus with a circus. As they stayed open to God’s agenda, he did something different; something more.

Maribel sharing food parcels in Bolivia

The blocked road

Elsewhere, as Louis and Maribel Woodley set off on an organised mission to evangelise and give practical help in rural communities in Bolivia, their path was blocked by landslides. Their plans were scuppered! What was going on?

The pastor of the church they were with didn’t want to waste the opportunity to serve – especially seeing as Louis, Maribel and four others had already travelled here from Potosí – so he began making some calls. The group was soon heading off in the opposite direction with a new plan.

“We soon found out why God had changed our destination,” Maribel says. “We stopped by seven small communities and found out that, just the previous day, a river had spilled its banks and destroyed many people’s crops – with some people losing their entire yield. In this area of the country, there is only one harvest annually, so they had just lost their main income for the year. We were able to encourage and help them in a small way with our food and clothing contributions and friendship at that tough time.”

While they were there, the mission group provided some Bible teaching and children’s activities. The pastor, who is a doctor, also offered simple medical aid to those who needed it.

It was clear to Louis and Maribel that God had known about the grief those communities were going through, and had steered their group to go and join in what he wanted to do there.

They only had limited help in their truck, but God did immeasurably more with it.

“We saw a good number of adults and children come to faith,” Louis says. “One lady that accepted the Lord was Silvia, the niece of one of the local church leaders – she was one of those who had lost all her crops in the flood.”

Explore God’s ‘Immeasurably more’

It’s stories like these that get us excited. They remind us that our measures of success and failure don’t line up with God’s. Being stuck in a lockdown away from your intended project – failure? Blocked road scuppering your mission trip – failure? That’s not the way God works. It seems that often, the times when we think we aren’t achieving something, are opportunities to let God do something even bigger.

You might feel like you don’t have much to offer to world mission. Perhaps you feel too old to go and serve, too ill-equipped to make much difference, too insignificant to pray for the world, or too nervous to try something new.

But God uses our ‘less’ to do his immeasurably ‘more’. If you just give him your willingness, just as the Hollands family and the Woodleys did, you might be surprised by how he uses you.

Let’s stay open to him and not limit what he wants to do with us. It’s more than we can measure!