The Christian Missionary

What is a missionary?

A missionary is someone who is sent by God.

What is the task of a missionary?

The task of a missionary is to do

  • what God wants,
  • where God wants it,
  • when God wants it,
  • how God wants it.

What is necessary if I want to become a missionary?

To become a missionary

  • I must have learned to listen to the voice of God and do what he says,
  • I must have learned to love,
  • I must know that my own strength and ability and wisdom and love are not enough, and that I really need God for everything,
  • I must accept and use all the gifts God has given me: His forgiveness for my past sins, the life of Christ in me that can transform my life, and most of all the love of God poured into our hearts.

Then when I go, God provides everything I need: Food, clothing, money, strength, stability, wisdom.

The best preparation for the vocation of missionary is

  • to let the LORD cleanse and transform me,
  • to make amends as far as possible for the wrong things I have done,
  • to decide to forgive all those who have offended, slandered and harmed me, possibly very deeply, and perhaps left very serious lasting damage. I must choose to forgive now. In severe cases, it may take years for my soul to truly come to peace.
  • to reconcile with everyone, as far as I can.
  • to learn to let out the love of God that is already within us, and
  • to faithfully do the seemingly small and unimportant things that God has called me to do now.

God now allows temptations

to prepare you for your future ministry, so that

  • you learn to trust in him and not in yourself,
  • you learn to use His abilities,
  • you become strong through Him in times of temptation,
  • you learn to wait for the moment of God,
  • your character is transformed into the image of Christ.

When you are sent out, you will be thankful for all the trials and temptations God has allowed, because these experiences will help you greatly in your ministry, and God has used them to make you a person He can use.

What about the lengthy training required by certain missionary societies today?

To prepare you for sending out, some missionary societies require you to

  • four years of Bible school or a degree in theology,
  • a time at the center of this missionary society,
  • 1 – 2 years language school,
  • half a year in Singapore or Hong Kong in order to adapt to the situation in Asia and
  • a time at the center of this missionary society in the country to which you are sent.

This can mean 6 to 8 years of preparation before you can finally take up the work you are called to do and come to the place where you are to work. And if you are called to serve in a village, you may find that you have to learn a new language and that a Chinese city and a village in northeast Thailand are worlds apart. And to gain the trust of the villagers, you will have to live among them for years. If God calls you to a particular missionary society and to a particular ministry within that society, then that’s all fine. But you have to be prepared to learn a lot on the mission field after having learned a lot before. If you think that the treasures you have acquired in your long years of study can replace dependence on the Holy Spirit, you are in for a big surprise.

However, there are many missionaries without this long preparation phase.

Jackie Pullinger completed her music studies at the age of 21, majoring in oboe. The following year, she followed God’s call and went to Hong Kong. She worked as a primary school teacher in a region controlled by brutal Chinese gangs. God used her to build a foundation that freed at least 500 drug addicts from their addiction, and she even reached the hearts of the leaders of these criminal gangs.

Bruce Olson had begun to study linguistics, but at the age of 19, God led him to go to Venezuela. 2 years later he began living among the wild Motilon tribe. God used him to help the Indians of this tribe become Christians and find a way to cope with modernity.

Most souls in the Third World today are won by poor missionaries who have not studied at a university or Bible school. The churches that send them out simply don’t have the money to pay them.

Neither Jesus nor his 12 apostles studied at a university.

What then is required of a missionary?

  • He loves God and the people to whom he is sent. Without love, he is nothing, bears no fruit and harms the kingdom of God.
  • He is constantly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • He is open to new things and ideas that the Holy Spirit gives.
  • He is prepared to really listen to the people to whom he is sent and to understand how they live and what is important to them, how they speak and how they think. This takes years, often many years, and it means living where they live.
  • He is prepared to invest his life in the situation he is sent to. How can you really make a difference in a village if you have to leave after a few years because the children have to go to a German grammar school? For the people you work with, it makes a big difference whether you only want to stay for a while or for many years.
  • He doesn’t run away like a hireling when things get dangerous.
  • The way of a missionary is to be close to the heart of Jesus and to follow him wherever he goes. That means giving up everything.
  • Life as a missionary means leaving parents, relatives and friends.
  • Life as a missionary can mean long years of hard work without seeing any fruit.
  • Life as a missionary can cost you your reputation, your health and even your life.
  • The only way a grain of wheat can bear fruit is to die.
  • Rules and regulations can be a good thing, but when they block the Holy Spirit, they bring death.

We have to ask ourselves:

Do we build the kingdom of God or our own kingdom?

Do we want to spread the kingdom of God or our own culture and interests?

Can God rule, or do we want to control everything?

Do we want people to follow Jesus, or do we want people to follow us?

Do we want God to be glorified or do we want our name to be praised?