With the diversity of ethnicities represented in our own local communities, with the advancement of social technologies, with ‘churches’ springing up virtually everywhere, with the ever rising dangers of a world in conflict, and with the sheer availability of the gospel even in the remotest of places, why does the Church still need missionaries? Isn’t the day of foreign missions finished? Better yet, why does the world still need missionaries?
I just spent a few days with a group of 40 future missionaries, and by ‘missionaries,’ and for the purposes of this post, I mean those that would like to serve full-time cross-culturally. Their passion to exert themselves to the ‘ends of the earth’ with the good news (Gospel) of Jesus inspires me. They struggle, stretch, and search for ways to actualize the call that God has placed on their lives. The missionary life is certainly not easy, and is certainly not easily attained. In developing countries, those that usually receive missionaries, the difficulty of the missionary task increases exponentially. it’s a lot harder to ‘send’ than to receive. The traditional support models don’t find wide acceptance amongst indigenous peoples, especially in impoverished areas, because being a missionary is thought of as an option for the privileged.
In Latin countries, people often reject the idea of sending missionaries to other countries because ‘those people’ are ‘ just looking for a free ride.’ From my experience, this might be true in some cases, but not typically. These 40 have demonstrated that they will do ‘whatever it takes’ to comply with God’s call to make disciples of ALL NATIONS. (Matthew 28:19,20) They believe that the Church still needs missionaries. They believe that their individual calls come directly from God. They believe that the ‘need’ expressed by others across the globe is genuine.
How about you? Do you, assuming that you’re a believer, believe that the Church still needs missionaries? If not, why?
Before you answer those questions, consider the following;
- Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth has never been withdrawn — nor will it be until He comes again. (Mark 16:15)
- There are BILLIONS of people who have no knowledge of the life changing message of Jesus.
- There are BILLIONS of people who have not seen divine reconciliation in action or the love of neighbors exemplified.
- There are, whether you like to think about it or not, still ‘lost’ people (Ezekiel 34:16), and forces that perpetuate lostness. (1 Peter 5:8)
- It’s the duty of every believer to “pray to send out workers into Jesus’ harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)
If we’re to petition the Lord for more workers in whatever field needs them, then why entertain the thought that missionaries are no longer needed. In fact, I can’t think of a single scenario, other than “a new heaven and a new earth,” (Revelation 21:1) which would end the need for missionaries.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone heralding the gospel to them? And how can anyone herald the gospel unless they are sent?”
I’d like to encourage those who think that ‘being missionaries in our own contexts,’ or ‘being content in our station,’ or even ‘remaining in the situation which we are called’ (1 Corinthians 7:20), is the end of the missionary line. Yes, we can be missionaries in our own contexts, we can ‘incarnate’ Christ in our natural settings or wherever we find ourselves, but likewise others can, and should be, missionaries whatever contexts God calls them to.
In review, a few questions;
1. Does the Church still need missionaries?
2. What are the ‘signs’ that someone has been ‘called’ to be a missionary in ‘another’ context?
3. Is it prudent, mission-arily speaking, to say that ‘everyone is a missionary?’
Part of the work here in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador is to ‘develop’ missionaries to serve locally and wherever God may call them. If you would like to support that work, check out our “Optimize Mission 2015” opportunity.