I want to be a maniac, maniac, maniac…a maniac for missions. My friend, John Rusk, aka ‘the Maniac for missions’ joined us at a missions banquet at Spirit Life Church in Bullhead City, Arizona yesterday morning. Three missionary units spoke to the congregation on the theme, God loves all the world. I spoke first telling fun stories about mission in Thailand and the funny story of banging my head into the wall.
However, I looked forward to the last speaker, John. His story energizes us, who are already passionate for God’s mission. John told the missionary stories, saying we love to talk about a few certain topics. All missionaries have a bathroom story, a food story, and a baptism story. We only shared one about baptism, and so did the other speaker, then John shared a baptism story as well from his time in Africa. He was baptizing in the river as the 500-6000 people gathered on the banks. They lined up in their different lines. This baptism location came with a caveat. To avoid the alligators who hang out in the calm water waiting for people or animals to come swimming, they held the baptism along the rapids. When John went to baptize his first candidate (person, what is a better term here), and as he went under John lost his grip and the man went floating down the river. His line quickly diminished as everyone found their place in another line.
John continued to tell his story of how he and his late wife went back to the mission field after pastoring a successful church in Southern California. He felt God calling him to the field again…to Africa this time. When he told his wife, Becky, he didn’t know what to expect. She immediately replied, yes, I want to go back to the mission field. I want to die a missionary. She wanted to die on the field.
Therefore, they went for it and moved to Cape Town, South Africa. However, three years into their term, Becky was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. She finally succumbed to the disease last February after battling for 9 months.
I can not imagine what that would do to me. How would I stay in the game? Here I am listening to this just a few months after her passing. I knew why when he told us what she said just days before passing. She said, if God heals me, I know there is time to get the work done, but if God doesn’t heal me and I go to heaven to be with Jesus, there is not a lot of time to get things done. She went on to tell him, “Get back in the saddle. Get going and keep working.”
He showed the video of how he legitimately got back into the saddle. He metaphorically climbed back into the saddle by getting on his motorcycle and riding across the US, 6,000 miles in three weeks to visit as many churches and people as possible on his way to the Foursquare Convention at the end of May. He rode to get the word out about missions. He truly is a maniac for missions, inviting all to be maniacs for God and his mission.
The crazy motorcycle idea came a few years ago as he prayerfully asked God how to help many of his friends in missions get the support they needed. How could he shake the roofs and rattle the cages of the American church to support missions. He wanted a fresh idea. One night, he felt God say for him to buy a motorcycle and ride to every state capital in the country and stopping at as many churches or friends on the way to share about missions. He knew it would be from God if his wife agreed. As he put it, she was the Theologian and had a verse for everything she did. When he presented the idea to her, she mulled it over and said I think the Holy Spirit is in this…go on and buy that bike. He did, and he rode 17,000 miles getting people turned on for missions over a 9-week period.
What crazy thing can I do, can you do to get people excited about God’s mission to have all the world know him?