Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Philippians 2:16

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:12

As my family and I prepare to serve God in Finland, some people have expressed concern about us. After all, my wife and I are no longer young; God has blessed us with seven children; Finland essentially is a pioneer field; Finnish is a very difficult language to learn; the true Finnish Bible has almost completely disappeared; Finland has one of the world’s highest tax rates and costs of living; we do not intend to serve under the auspices of a “mission board.” Because of these facts, some of the brethren seem to doubt God’s ability to support and provide for us in another land, reasoning that somehow God can only support and provide for us in the United States (and only in ways that are socially acceptable in contemporary American culture).

Our decision to go to Finland was not made quickly or unadvisedly or without much meditation upon the words of God. Indeed, it was from God’s words that we discovered four promises that apply to any…one who answers God’s call to serve Him in another area.

First Promise: God will prepare the way.

“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

In going to Finland, we will travel a path that God has already prepared. We will minister to people whose hearts God has prepared to hear His word (Psalm 10:17). This is not true because we are somehow “special” but because God has promised to do so. After all, He prepared the way for Abraham’s servant to go to another country to serve his master, and as that servant later testified, “… the LORD God led me in the right way” (Genesis 24:48). When God called Jonah to serve Him in Nineveh, He even prepared a great fish to take him there (Jonah 1:17). (In contrast, when Jonah tried to go his own way instead of God’s way in Jonah 1:3, he had to pay “the fare thereof.”) When the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, even His way was prepared for Him: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thee, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:2-3).

What God prepares, He provides.

“… thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it” (Psalm 65:9)

Second Promise: God will provide the need of those who sacrificially serve Him.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, in context of verses 15-19; notice the mention of “sacrifice” in verse 18).

As we go to Finland, God has promised to supply all our need if we live sacrificially for the sake of getting the gospel to others. After all, when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb for him (Genesis 22:8). During three-and-a-half years of drought and famine, God provided for Elijah’s needs-and in turn used him to provide the need of others (1 Kings 17:1-16). While the apostles fretted over being in “a desert place” and a financial expenditure that they couldn’t afford, God fed a hungry multitude because one young boy gave all he had (little as it was) to the Lord (Luke 9:12-17). Because Peter had sacrificed all so that he could follow the Lord (Matthew 19:27), God provided the money he needed to pay his taxes (Matthew 17:27)

Because God is faithful, we should be faithful.

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith, nothing wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23).

Third Promise: God will protect His children.

“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).

God has promised to protect us as we travel to serve in Finland. The God Who was a shield to Abraham (Genesis 15:1) and to David (Psalm 28:7) can also shield us. The God Who delivered Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 1-3, 6) can also deliver us. The God Who protected Paul in imprisonments and in shipwrecks can also protect us.

If God is your shield, nothing can “get through” to you.

“… be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me” (Psalm 31:2).

“… 10, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20).

Fourth Promise: God will prove Himself.

“… Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day,…” (Exodus 14:13, in context of verses 10-14).

God has promised to prove Himself (not us) in our ministry to Finland, using the base and foolish and despised things of the world (like ravens and widows and a whale and one boy’s food) to bring glory to Himself and to prove that He (not man) did what He promised He would do (1 Corinthians 1:17-31). Despite fearful accusations that He had brought them into the wilderness only to kill them, God proved Himself to Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-16). Even though scoffers questioned His ability to provide food for His people, God proved Himself in the wilderness, opening the storehouse of heaven to feed millions of Jews for forty years (Psalm 78:19-25). When Elisha’s servant feared that God couldn’t protect His people, God proved Himself by showing him the heavenly army poised to protect and defend him (2 Kings 6:15-17). When Rabshakeh blasphemously claimed that God couldn’t protect His children, God proved Himself and defeated the Assyrian troops (Isaiah 36-27). When Sanballet and others mocked the work of God (Nehemiah 4:1-9) and tried to sabotage it (Nehemiah 6:1-16), God proved Himself in such a way that even His enemies “perceived that this work was wrought of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16).

Because God will prove Himself, we too should prove Him in obedient trust.

“… prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

Because of these four precious promises of God, we should pray.

“… The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

Even though God has promised to prepare the way, to provide the need, to protect the servant, and to prove Himself, there is one thing that we need from God’s people: prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:25). God commands us to pray that He would send forth laborers to His harvest. When God called missionary laborers from Joppa, He did so in response to prayer (Acts 10:1-29). When God called missionary laborers from Antioch, He again did so in response to prayer (Acts 13:1-3). Please join us in praying that the Lord would send forth laborers to His harvest in Finland, that His word would “have free course” there, and that He would be glorified through the work in Finland and in other nations (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

The God Whose grace can get a sinner into heaven can also get a laborer into Finland to reach that sinner.

“… I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Daryl R. Coats (July 2004)
1187 Highway 529, Taylorsville, MS 39168

P .S. I have a new email address for missions-related correspondence:

Correspondence for other purposes can still be directed to: