What comes to mind when you think of being a missionary? For many years I thought it meant working in the bush somewhere among people who had never heard the gospel. In addition, it meant sacrificing yourself and all your happiness to a life of poverty, where death can come at any time while serving God among a people with little to no access to the gospel. The first missionaries in Africa experienced the demanding commitment required for engaging in missionary work. It scares many people as most pursue being rich and having all the good and comfort the world offers. It is most challenging, especially in the materialistic world, for many to commit to an unpredictable life of a missionary. The above challenges may lead one to struggle with whether or not to be a missionary. Now, who is called into missions, and how do you know you are one of them?
The idea of calling has been taken too far by many today. One expects to hear a voice from heaven, have a mysterious dream, a prophet sent from far to confirm, etc. Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19) is not the normative pattern for the missionary call, neither Moses’s experience in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) nor Isaiah’s experience with the open heaven (Isaiah 6:1). God is not confined to any formula but works differently with different people. God has called many people through personal conviction as they study the Bible, become part of a local church, and seek God in deep prayers.
The call to Christianity comes with many parts. We have been called to freedom (Gal. 5:1). We have also been called to live a holy life that resembles who God is (Eph. 4:1–16, 1 Pet. 1:14–2:3). We are called to suffer for the gospel (John 15:18–21, Phil. 1:28–30, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Pet. 2:19–21). Finally, we are called to the mission God has given his people because everyone who responds to the call of the gospel becomes an heir of Jesus’s command to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18–20).
Internal Conviction and External Confirmation
The call for reaching out is for every Christian. However, the commitment to a specific kind of ministry is determined by several factors. First, the Bible says Christ gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to the church. This means that specific ministries are given to different people for the edification of the body of Christ. Calling into ministry is very vital if one will endure to the end. A number of the issues in calling are addressed in the link above and won’t be repeated in this article.
Before you commit to missions, there are things to consider that may enlighten you if this is where you are called to serve. First, you should appreciate that while you may hear God’s voice leading you to missions, God’s voice becomes clear as we walk closer to him. Therefore, your first duty is to walk closely with God, serving where you are, which ensures growth through personal involvement, keeping his word to the letter, and taking time to prepare before committing. Many people join the ministry as a pastor or other offices out of impulse and quit when they face something they never anticipated. Consider the cost before starting (Luke 14:28-30). Whatever challenges one encounters in the ministry come with many blessings as well. It is not all thorny, and neither is it all rosy. Just like Paul said to Timothy, we too can confidently say, “The confidence of my calling enables me to overcome every difficulty without shame, for I have an intimate revelation of this God….” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Preparation for the Mission Field
How has God prepared you for mission over the years? What are you doing currently concerning missions? So many people desire to serve God in various capacities but lack the patience to be prepared for it. I have always appreciated what God has done in my life since he called me into ministry. It could have been rougher if I had jumped into ministry before training, but God provided for my preparation for service. It took 30 years of preparation for priests to be ready to serve in Israel. In addition, Samuel started schools in the Old Testament to equip prophets (1 Samuel 19:18-24). No one just did service for God without equipping. Where you intend to go, the language to use, the challenges you will likely face, etc., are all preparations that make your work easier. The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). One who rightly handles the word of truth “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).
In considering mission work, there is great wisdom in seeking counsel from other Christian leaders and missionaries. Plans usually fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed (Prov. 15:22). It is essential to acknowledge that we are not the first and neither shall we be the last in the mission field.
If, while on the mission field, you find people interested in receiving Christ, have them follow the link and leave their details so we can continue assisting you in discipling the new believers.