- Adam Schell
Do Your Part
Last week at Melbourne Heights we started a sermon series called “One Small Step.” And based on that title alone, you could probably guess that we spent a little time last week talking about when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon and uttered those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But one of the interesting things about the moon landing is that Neil Armstrong wasn’t originally supposed to be the first person on the moon. That honor was originally going to go to Buzz Aldrin – who ended up being the second person on the moon instead.
As Aldrin explained in an interview back in 2014, “In all previous missions, if someone, a crew member, was to spacewalk, it was always the junior person, not the space commander who would stay inside." This was done so that the more senior person would be left safely behind the controls and in a better position to take action in case of an emergency.
So Aldrin, who was second in command as the lunar module pilot, should’ve been the first person to walk on the moon instead of Armstrong, who was the mission’s commander. But all of that changed because of where the hatch door was located on the lunar module. You see, the hatch door was on Neil Armstrong’s side of the lunar module. And that meant if Aldrin was going to be the first person out of the hatch, he was going to have to climb over Armstrong – while they were both in their full space suits – to do it.
And NASA originally tried to do it that way. They put Aldrin and Armstrong in their full space suits into a mockup of the lunar module and had Aldrin try to climb out. But as he was trying to do it, Aldrin ended up damaging the mockup. So NASA decided to change their typical protocol and have Neil Armstrong exist the lunar module first.
And with that one decision, Neil Armstrong became the face of space exploration. I mean, it’s been more than fifty years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon. In that time, 11 other men have walked on the moon besides Neil Armstrong, more than 500 other people have gone to space, and one cosmonaut – Gennady Padalka – spent over 32 months in space across five different missions. But in spite of all of that, Neil Armstrong is still the first person just about all of us think of when we think about space exploration. The truth is that most of us would have a hard time naming five other people who have even been to space.
And because Neil Armstrong’s name has become so synonymous with space exploration, it’s easy for us to forget that he didn’t make it to space on his own. I shared this statistic last week but it’s worth repeating, NASA estimates that it took a team of roughly 400,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians working together over the course of a decade to allow Neil Armstrong to become the first person to walk on the moon.
That team included people like Jack Garman. Now, chances are that you have never even heard of Jack Garman because he never set foot in a space shuttle but Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin never would’ve landed on the moon without him. You see, when Apollo 11 was only minutes away from landing on the moon computer alarms inside the lunar module started going off. When Armstrong and Aldrin looked at the screens to see what was going on they saw codes of a 1201 and 1202…but the astronauts had no idea what those codes meant.
So they asked Mission Control if they should continue or abort their mission – and never land on the moon. Well, because these codes involved the onboard computer, the flight director asked his guidance officer to make the call. Only the guidance officer, Steve Bales, didn’t recognize these codes either.
So Bales had to reach out to what NASA referred to as “back roomers” – people who were literally working in backrooms around Mission Control – to get his answer. And that’s where Jack Garman comes in. Garman was among a group of people tasked with memorizing all of the error codes involving the onboard computer, and he instantly realized these codes were related to a memory overload and that they weren’t a serious problem. So Garman told Mission Control the mission was still a go, and Apollo 11 safely landed on the moon a few minutes later.
And Jack Garman is just one example of the engineers, scientists, and technicians that were involved in getting Neil Armstrong to the moon. But there are plenty of other people that helped get Armstrong on the moon that didn’t have any fancy letters after their names. People like Ellie Foraker.
Now, when NASA began its work, Ellie Foraker was working for the International Latex Corporation of Delaware…which was best known for making women’s undergarments at the time. One day, as Foraker was sewing a pair of baby pants, a NASA engineer approached her and asked if she would mind trying to sew something else.
Foraker later recalled in the documentary Moon Machines, “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be making spacesuits.” But that’s exactly what she did. So without Ellie Foraker and her co-workers at the ILC factory, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin wouldn’t have had anything to wear when they made it to the moon.
And Jack Garman and Ellie Foraker are just a couple of examples that I can give you of people that were essential in getting Apollo 11 to the moon. You also have people like Eldon Hall who developed the computer chip that powered Apollo 11’s guidance computer. You had people like Emil Schiesser who were responsible for figuring out where the lunar module should actually land on the moon. You even had people like Rita Rapp who prepared the meals the astronauts would eat as they traveled through space. And the list goes on and on.
But what does all of this talk about the people who helped Neil Armstrong make it to the moon have to do with us? Well, I told you that last week we started a new sermon series called “One Small Step.” But this isn’t a series about space travel. This series is actually about something that many of us find every bit as difficult as sending someone to the moon. This series is about sharing our faith. And for many of us, the idea of sharing our faith seems as hard as sending someone to the moon.
The idea of sharing our faith seems as hard as sending someone to the moon.
And I think one of the reasons why the idea of sharing our faith seems so hard is because a lot of us think we have to do it all on our own. So, if sharing our faith is like working for NASA, we think we have to be able to build the rocket, launch the rocket, land the rocket, and even sew our own space suit so that we can walk on the moon.
And what this means is that when the preacher starts talking about sharing our faith, we think it’s our responsibility to go out on the street and find someone that we can share our faith with. And then we think it’s our responsibility to be able to tell them everything there is to know about Jesus. And then we think it’s our responsibility to be able to answer any questions that they have about Jesus. And then we think it’s our responsibility to convince them to believe in Jesus. And then we think it’s our responsibility to baptize them in the name of Jesus.
And let’s just be honest here, there aren’t very many of us who feel like we can do all of those things – I mean, I have a Master’s of Divinity degree and have been a pastor for 15 years, and I know that I can’t answer every question someone is going to ask me about Jesus. But because we feel like we can’t do it all when it comes to sharing our faith, we end up not sharing our faith at all.
Because we feel like we can’t do it all when it comes to sharing our faith, we end up not sharing our faith at all.
So if you have ever felt like you are ill-prepared to share your faith, if you have ever felt like you are unqualified to share your faith, if you have ever felt like you can’t do it on your own; I’ve got a story I want you to listen to today. This story comes from the book of Mark – so, if you’ve got a Bible close by go ahead and grab it and turn to Mark 2.
And, as you’re finding it, I just want to point out that Mark is a biography of Jesus. And in the passage we’re going to be reading today, we’re going to see what our actual responsibility is when it comes to sharing our faith. So let’s take a look at Mark 2 together and we’ll start reading in verse 1. Mark writes:
1 After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. 2 So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. 3 Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. 4 They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”
6 Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, 7 “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”
8 Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 9 Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? 10 But so you will know that the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, 11 “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”
12 Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2:1-12 (Common English Bible)
So in this passage, you’ve got four people or groups of people that we need to talk a little more about. First, you’ve got Jesus. And we all know who Jesus is. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is the only one who can change our lives and help us be who God wants us to be. The second person in this story is the paralyzed man. This man was hurting. This man was broken. This man needed Jesus. So this man is like the people we should be sharing our faith with.
The third group of people in this story are the religious experts. These are people who weren’t willing to do anything to help this paralyzed man…but they were more than happy to complain when Jesus helped him. So these are the people you sometimes run into who can’t believe that you would invite certain types of people to church.
And then you have the last group of people…and these are the people who carried this paralyzed man to Jesus. Now, this is the group of people we’re supposed to be like. We’re supposed to do what we can to help people who are hurting, to help people who are broken, to help people who need Jesus find Jesus.
And did you notice that it wasn’t just one person who carried this paralyzed man to Jesus? No, it took four people – who each played their own part – to bring this man to Jesus. And that’s what we’re really responsible for when it comes to sharing our faith. When it comes to sharing our faith, we’re responsible for doing our part…we’re not responsible for doing it all.
When it comes to sharing our faith, we’re responsible for doing our part…we’re not responsible for doing it all.
And when it comes to sharing your faith, you’re going to play different parts for different people. I mean, it took a lot of different people to help bring me to Jesus. I had Sunday School teachers who taught me who Jesus is. I had preachers who told me how Jesus could change my life. I had my parents who showed me the difference Jesus made in their lives. I had friends that I wanted to hang out with on Sunday mornings at church.
And all of these different people kept moving me closer to Jesus, until one man – named Ron Burgess – explained to me what I had to do to invite Jesus into my life. And then Jesus changed my life. But that wouldn’t have happened if this group of people didn’t do their part.
So, when you’re afraid to do anything to share your faith because you can’t do it all, well, that would be like hearing that Neil Armstrong didn’t want to walk on the moon because he couldn’t build the rocket that launched him into space. It would be like hearing that Buzz Aldrin didn’t want to walk on the moon because he couldn’t program the lunar module’s computer. It would be like hearing that Eugene Cernan – who was the last man to walk on the moon – didn’t want to do it because he couldn’t sew his own space suit.
But Neil Armstrong knew it wasn’t his job to build the rocket. Buzz Aldrin knew it wasn’t his job to program the lunar module’s computer. And Eugene Cernan knew it wasn’t his job to sew the space suits. Their job was to walk on the moon…and they did it.
So all you can do is your part to help someone come to Jesus. And that’s what I want to challenge you to do. You see, throughout this series, we’re not just talking about the reason why it’s hard to share our faith…we’re also showing you small steps you can take to share your faith. And right now I want to talk with you about one of those small steps you can take.
Now, in the story we read from the book of Mark a little earlier, we read about four people who helped carry the paralyzed man to Jesus. And the truth is that we don’t know a lot about these people, but it’s safe to assume these four people were friends of this paralyzed man. And each of the people knew that their friend needed something that only Jesus could do for him. So these four people came together to carry their friend to Jesus.
What does that have to do with you? Well, right now, you have people in your life who need something that only Jesus can do for them. You have people in your life right now that are hurting. You have people in your life right now that are broken. You have people in your life right now that need Jesus. And they need your help to get to Jesus.
So I want you to pray for these people. I want you to think about four people in your life that need Jesus and I want you to pray for them. And, if you can’t think of four people, ask God to show you who those people are. And I want you to pray for them every day between now and Easter – which is a little less than two months away. So write these four names down and put them someplace where you’ll see them every day. And pray for them. Pray for them by name. Pray that they will come to Jesus. Pray that God will help you do your part to lead them to Jesus.