[forthright] The Hazards of Fishing

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2006 15:15:29 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Field Notes

The Hazards of Fishing
by Michael E. Brooks

"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two
brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his
brother, casting a net into the sea for they were
fishermen. Then he said to them, 'Follow me, and I
will make you fishers of men'" (Matthew 4:18,19).

Fishing in the world's seas is one of the most
dangerous professions on earth. That this is as
true in the Indian Ocean as in the Atlantic off
New England, or the northern Pacific in the waters
of Alaska was brought home this week. Storms in
the Bay of Bengal have left approximately 100
known dead and over 1,000 missing, almost all of
them fishermen. In addition to storms, Bengali
fishermen face pirates lurking to rob them, and
natural predators, the Bengal tigers, who continue
to take scores of human lives annually. Many of
those killed and eaten by tigers are fishermen,
seeking to wrest a livelihood from the waters of
the Sundarbans.

Many are familiar with the metaphor Jesus uses to
the Apostles, who having been catchers of fish, he
will transform into catchers of men (Luke 5:10).
We recognize its appropriateness when applied to
the activity of evangelism. Just as one goes out
seeking fish and works to bring them into
captivity, so the Apostles were to seek men and
bring them into the Kingdom of God. What we may
not immediately realize, however, is that the
analogy is very fit in other ways as well. One of
these is in the hazards of each profession.
Consider Jesus' instructions to his disciples as
he sent them on their first mission:

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of
wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless
as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver
you up to councils and scourge you in their
synagogues. You will be brought before governors
and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and
to the Gentiles .... Now brother will deliver up
brother to death, and a father his child; and
children will rise up against parents and cause
them to be put to death. And you will be hated by
all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the
end will be saved" (Matthew 10:16-18; 21,22).

The greatest and most obvious danger that
Christians face in their evangelistic activities
is persecution and opposition from the enemies of
the Gospel. Just as Jesus was himself rejected,
beaten, and killed, so many who have proclaimed
his name have suffered. The apostle Paul states it
as inevitable law, "Yes, and all who desire to
live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer
persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). History records
multitudes of cases of martyrdom for the name of
Jesus, including those of both these first men to
be called by Jesus to become "fishers of men."

Others perish from hazards of the activity itself.
Shipwrecks, traffic accidents and plane crashes
have caused the deaths of numerous evangelists,
and injury to many more. One cannot "go" without
incurring risk, and the longer and more often the
journeys are, the greater the accumulated risk.
Additionally, travel and stressful work exposes
one to many diseases and health risks. This is
true of many occupations, of course, but it is
certainly true of evangelism and mission work.

All of this is not to praise those who embrace
these dangers, but to cause us to carefully count
the cost (cf Luke 9:57-62) of carrying out our
mission. But, having done that, we also must
recognize the potential rewards. No occupation has
the eternal significance that evangelism does. No
occupation entitles its practitioners to as many
blessings as that of the preacher or missionary.
And no occupation brings greater satisfaction.
There is no indication whatsoever that any apostle
ever regretted his change of profession, to become
a seeker of souls. May we know the joy that was
theirs in serving the greatest Fisherman of all.

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