fair warning: before reading through this post, you might want to find a warm beverage and somewhere comfortable to sit down in.
As someone with a background in languages, communication, and language practice, the concept of numbers, and more specifically the mathematical side of things, are of little interest to me. However, I find it fascinating that letters, or linguistic concepts are often represented by numerical values.
When I studied sociolinguistics back in the day, as part of my (second) undergrad degree in Language and Literature, I was intrigued to find that an alternative name for language, is code — a neutral term which denotes language, or a variety of language, and within the discipline of code switching specifically refers to the hybridization of language by mixing the elements of two languages into the same sentence or clause.
Simply put, this simply means that two independent forms of code may be used together to form a single (or plural) form of communication to a (potentially) mixed audience.
Ask any South African if they do this, and the answer will, ten to one, be YES. With 11 official languages, most South Africans are bilingual, at the very least, and with such a diverse cultural and linguistic makeup, one often finds yourself engulfed in a conversation that may, for instance, switch around between Afrikaans, English, Zulu, or any other combination of local languages. This phenomenon (code switching) is of course not singularly applicable to the South African context.
In one of my earlier posts, I shared how thirty is not just a number, and that’s why I’m providing this rather extensive background regarding sociolinguistics and numbers.
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Old Testament, and the fourth of five books in the Torah. The Hebrew name for Numbers is BEMIDBAR (Bəmiḏbar), and means “In the Wilderness” or “In the Desert”, and contains the stories of the Hebrews passage from Egypt to the Promised Land.
thirty is not just a number
- In the Biblical context, the number 30 is representative of dedication to a specific task or calling
- Aronic priests were dedicated to serving in the temple at 30 years of age — Numbers 4:3
- John the Baptist (of priestly descent through Zechariah) began his ministry at age 30
- Jesus began to publicly preach the Gospel of the Kingdom at age 30 — Luke 3:23
- the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran, and of all the scrolls discovered since 1947, 30 copies of the Psalms have been identified
- God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if at least 30 righteous men could be found
- King David was 30 years old when he began to reign over Israel — 2 Samuel 5:4
- in 30AD the New Testament church was born. It started in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when God’s Spirit initially came on 120 individuals, and after Peter preached, an additional 3000 people came to believe the Gospel of the Kingdom — Acts 2
The book of numbers marks the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and can be (roughly) divided into three main parts and two road trip parts.
- Sinai → Numbers 1-20
- Reed Sea → travel: Numbers 20-12
- Paran → Numbers 13-19
- travel: Numbers 20-21
- Moab → Numbers 22-36
- Built the Tabernacle
- Moses received the Ten Commandments
- formed a covenant with God after coming out of Egypt
- Sent 12 spies to Canaan
- of the 12 spies, only TWO came back with a positive report → even after EVERYTHING that God has promised to them, the challenges that lay ahead seemed overwhelming and because of their fear, an ENTIRE GENERATION missed out on their inheritance
- King Balak reigns over Moab, and freaks out at the amount of foreigners travelling through his land, so he hires a sorcerer named Balaam to curse the Israelites.
- Balaam tries to curse the Israelites on three different occasions, but ends up blessing them instead.
- Balaam prophesies that “Out of Israel will rise a victorious King,”
- This prophesy from Balaam points directly to the birth of Jesus in the New Testament → all New Testament promises are fulfilled in Jesus, and is also connected to God’s promise to Abraham to bless all nations through him and his family
not a job description
I was 16 years old when I first knew that I wanted to (officially or unofficially) spend my life telling others about Jesus. Of course, I had to finish High School, and after that, I spent 7 years studying, and then worked in the corporate world all while being involved in some form of ministry and outreach.
And finally, after praying about an opportunity to do full-time ministry for more than 10 years, I met Overland Missions, and immediately knew that this was where God wanted to me to be next! I have been involved (officially and unofficially, full-time and part-time) in missions and ministry since 2006, and for the first time since I felt God call me toward sharing the Kingdom in the nations, did I feel as if someone was using the same language as me when talking about ministry, and missions in particular.
You cannot be a missionary without being a visionary — truly, it is so much more than a job description. Fulfilling the call of God on our lives may look different from person-to-person, and there’s certainly no guideline or manual on how to do that, other than walking in obedience to Holy Spirit.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin, I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ” — Ezekiel 37:5
In the Biblical context, the number 30 is representative of dedication to a specific task or calling. I recently celebrated my 30th birthday, and with consideration of Numbers, and the significance it holds from a scriptural perspective, in conjunction with the call of God on my life, and the incredible job I get to do on the daily (it’s not only a job, but a fulfilment of years’ worth of praying and dreaming), I am in awe of the extraordinary manner in which the seasons of my life have come together through God’s divine working.
I may not know the exact details of what the next 30 years may hold, but I know that the Kingdom will always be a part of it. For now, at least, I am looking forward to joining our Overland Missions team in the Democratic Republic of Congo where our full-time missionaries and ministry partners pioneer the Gospel to remote and forgotten people.
The Great Commission is not only a calling that applies to a “chosen few” to serve as foreign missionaries, but to every believer — whether in vocation or in lifestyle. Moving forward, 30 is not just a number, it’s not only a transition of seasons, or a journey that progresses through the wilderness to the promised land, but it is an undertaking to pioneer the Kingdom to those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This year, despite having to leave DRC for many months, and travel restrictions in the wake of COVID-19, our team along with our fiery ministry partners in Haut Katanga province, have moved mountains to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, to train and equip new believers with the Word, and have set their communities ablaze with the power of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, ministry is not only about the numbers — how many souls were saved, healed, delivered, how many baptisms, of the amount of kilometres you travelled to reach the people you are ministering to. But without you, and your partnership, these numbers would look very different. Whatever season you’re in, or whatever ‘number you’re on’ — we’d love to include you in the work and ministry we do here in the Democratic republic of Congo and beyond!
We are continuing to grow our team, and there is room for you! To find out how you can become part of Overland Missions’ international team, CLICK HERE to sign up for Advanced Missions Training.
Your partnership and generosity is so very needed, and greatly appreciated! By generously giving your finances, prayer, time, and resources we are able to be the boots on the ground, and you are an extension of our ministry — every testimony we celebrate is an inheritance you share in!
If you would like to know more about how you can join our team, or have specific questions — I am available on social media as Cornelia Grace, and you are more than welcome to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn — I would be delighted to get connected with you!