The Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.
So you’re a Christian and you want to know what being a missionary is like? and whether, just possibly, you too may be called to serve?
Well, firstly talk to some missionaries! Yes, they are human, not “super saints” who just lecture from the pulpit, and when they are home “on furlough” (there are some odd expressions around here) a lunch or coffee date would be appreciated. Ask them what you can pray for in their work and then pray regularly. Read some up to date books about missionary work today (which is usually very different from the “first contact” explorations so well filmed, and recorded in the ‘classic’ texts).
Secondly, go! Yes, you. We’re not talking about three years or a lifetime – yet. There are many short term missions visits of a week or two to perform specific tasks, including lots for teens as well. Many are overseas, but you could also just spend a day with a “home” mission in center city. Or you could take three days in the middle of that beach holiday in Thailand and visit the missionaries up country there…. you see, it can be done. Your church missions committee should be able to help you select what to do, but we also have some contacts through the organizations with whom we work which might be useful – send us an e-mail if you would like to know more.
You will probably be surprised just how far limited resources can be stretched in the Lord’s work (the parable of the loaves and fishes feeding a multitude comes to mind). You’ll see ‘ordinary’ people like you and us transformed by an extraordinary calling. You may also find frustrated people, attacks by Satan, lonely people – in short, life like it is back home, but lived in a foreign place with all the difficulties of being far from family and friends, in a different culture and environment.
Then pray again – really hard and often, and ask others to pray too. You will know if the Lord is calling you to a specific place. When Nick was considering going to Kenya with Africa Inland Mission, references to Uganda frequently came up in the newspapers. He went to Uganda! Afterwards references to Uganda and its troubles (AIDS, other diseases, insurgency) kept on coming up too – try reading the State Department warning on travel there and imagining a parents feelings. But it is the Lord who is in charge, and He provides the protection.
Finally, if you feel called to the field for long term service, and others in your church (particularly the elders and the pastor) agree this calling, you need to seek support. You will need to be accepted by a missionary organization, trained, and then funded. Don’t worry about the final step. We had to raise over ,000 for Nicholas, and there was precisely .28 in his mission account at the end. We gave that to Stephen, who rapidly became fully financed for Pearl River. There is work and organization involved, but it is the Lord who provides and He is faithful. Much more important is the patience to wait to be accepted and confirmed by the sending missionary organization. They also need to discern the Lord’s will, and maybe the posting He wants for you is with another team in another group. Just rest assured that He will work His purposes out in His time.
Or maybe you are not called to the field, but to home church support. Your Missions Committee will be delighted to have help! Prayer is the most vital, and communication and involvement of all in the church are also very important. At our home church we have arranged for home groups to “adopt” individual missionaries to get closer relationships. There is a place for everyone in fulfilling the Great Commission!