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Where is Malaysia Air 370 and its 239 passengers? Boy, a few years ago, that question obsessed people around the world and in the news day after day after day. I can’t remember a time when so many nations (I think there were something like 26 at some point) mounted such a huge search-and-rescue effort across such a wide swath of the world. It was incredible. Why? Well, to search for and, if possible, try to save the people who were lost.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Four Lessons From the Search for a Missing Plane.”

As I was watching the unfolding news…and praying at that time, God seemed to say to me, “There’s something else I want you to see here, Ron.” Suddenly I was hearing in my heart the words of Jesus. He said, “I’ve come to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Then it hit me. Jesus has launched a search-and-rescue force from every corner of the globe to seek and save hijacked lives that are heading for an unthinkable destination. His worldwide rescue force is His church; His people from “every nation, tribe…and language” (Revelation 7:9).

As ships and planes and computers were searching for that missing plane, they were looking by “grids.” In other words, each one had its own assigned stretch of ocean or land to cover. That’s like the rescue forces of Christ. Each of us who follows Christ has our assigned “grid.” And it’s the spiritually dying people who are in our circle of influence. We all have a circle of influence. There’s so much ground to cover; there’s so many eternities in the balance. The only way every unbeliever is going to have a chance at Jesus is if every believer is a rescuer.

Now our word for today from the Word of God asks these haunting questions in Romans 10:14. “How can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” The life-saving mission of my Jesus compels me to consider those questions in light of the people I know. “How can (fill in the blank) __________ hear about Him (in my case) unless Ron tells them if they’re in my circle of influence?”

Neighbors. Coworkers. Online friends. Social media friends. Family social acquaintances. They’re the “grid” where the Great Rescuer has assigned me and you to “seek and to save.” And the desperate search that dominated our headlines several years ago for that missing plane has a lot to teach us about our rescue assignment from Jesus.

1. Seek them – We can’t expect those who are lost to show up where we are. We have to go where they are, taking that eternity-changing news of Jesus outside the walls of the church. Showing up with Jesus at the office, the gym, the club, the store, the school, the game, the hospital.

2. Deploy every means possible. They put out ships and planes and computers to find that missing plane – every conceivable tool for the mission. We who know the eternal stakes of our life-saving mission can do no less. Social networks. Websites. Acts of kindness. Fervent prayer. Intentional relationships. Paul said, “That by all possible means, I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:23).

3. Work together – The Malaysian Air search depended on people from all kinds of different backgrounds coming together for a cause larger than their differences. Our failure to do so as the rescue force of Jesus is costing lives.

4. Time is lives – That’s what a Chinese official said about delays in that search. You know, that must echo God’s heart as His rescuers focus on themselves while lost people just keep slipping away into an awful eternity.

I answer and you answer to the Final Orders of our Jesus – as does every child of God. “Go and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere” (Mark 16:15 NLT). It’s the passion of God’s heart. It must be mine.