Bible teacher and best-selling author Francis Chan announced he will be moving to Asia in February to be a missionary and challenged other Christians to ask themselves if they, too, are willing to boldly follow God’s call on their life.
“My family and I are going to move to Asia in February,” he announced Wednesday during a chapel sermon at Azusa Pacific University. “A few months ago, we were in Myanmar and my wife and I and kids, we were just with a translator going from hut to hut in these slums, trying to explain to people who Jesus is. These people had never even heard of Him. And the eagerness, the way they listened, seeing people get baptized — it was just like, wow, what do we do on a normal day that even compares to this?”
“As we got on the plane home, I was like, ‘Honey, I think it’s time to move,’” Chan said. “I describe it like this: I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life and now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”
“What if I heard of a lake that’s like a five-mile hike away, and no one’s fishing it. And they’re saying, ‘Man, the fish are biting — just throw a hook in there and they’ll go for it!’ Man, I’ll make that five-mile hike if I love fishing,” the Crazy Love author continued.
“What would keep me at that same pond? I’ll tell you what would keep me at the pond is I built a house on the pond, and all my friends have houses on the pond. And we don’t even fish that much, we just go out, and we hang out, and we talk, and we play, and I don’t want to leave my friends.
“But if my calling is to go fish, and there’s no one fishing over there, why wouldn’t I go?”
The former pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, Chan has ministered in the United States for over 20 years. He admitted that facing the reality of leaving the United States caused him to become “nostalgic.”
But amid his doubts, Chan said the words of 2 Corinthians 4:2 “convicted” him. The verse reads, ”But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
“I thought, man, I try to be too clever sometimes rather than just openly saying it, especially in this day and age,” Chan said, explaining he’s been tempted to “slowly ease” listeners into understanding who God is instead of giving an “open statement of truth.”
“But that’s not the way Jesus taught,” he stressed. “Jesus would get in front of a crowd and He goes, ‘Hey, I’m about to leave here and be nailed to a cross. So unless you are willing to ditch your life and pick up the cross next to me and go get nailed to this cross, don’t bother following me, because unless you deny yourself, all those desires you have, all those dreams you have — unless you’re ready to leave all of that and pick up your cross and follow me, you can’t be my disciple.”
The Erasing Hell author said he realized that if he truly believes the Gospel, he needs to “just say it”: “If you don’t believe it, then there’s nothing I can do to talk you into that. I realized for years, we keep trying different kinds of bait. But the truth is, the fish just aren’t biting. They’re blinded.”
The pastor admitted that when he began his ministry 20 years ago, he spoke with great boldness and passion, adding, “Sometimes we drift and we just don’t realize it."
While the Bible used to be "revered," there has been in recent years a "rise of our own feelings and opinions and our thoughts," the pastor warned.
"This book is slowly drifting and we’ve been so scared — 'well, don’t dare hurt their feelings, don’t offend.’ Suddenly, we start speaking to not offend people,” Chan said.
“The truth is, this Word is becoming less and less and people are just rising in their opinions and they’re just believing what they want to believe."
People don’t want to believe there is a “day of judgment” where they will stand before a “Holy God,” Chan stressed, explaining most people want to believe they are “good.”
“That is such a lie,” he declared. “The Word of God says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. How are you going to twist these words?”
Chan, who in 2012 launched a discipleship movement called Multiply with David Platt, warned that far too many Christians are concerned with “appeasing” nonbelievers and their feelings. He pointed out that Scripture warns against “lukewarm” Christianity.
“[Jesus] says, ‘I’m knocking on the door. You want to get real with me? You ready to surrender to me? You ready to start submitting to this Word even if no one else does?” Chan said. “If your thoughts contradict this book, then you need to come under His thinking.”
“I’m going to come under this because I’m going to stand before Him one day and I’m going to be judged by Him, and I don’t want to be judged as a coward,” Chan concluded. “That’s the greatest joy you’re going to find in life, is when you understand you have a holy, holy judge for a Father who is rich in mercy and full of love for you and is knocking on the door.”
Watch Chan’s entire message below.