I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has said repeatedly “Oh I could never…(fill in the blank).” I am fairly certain that I said I could never go into missions, could never live in the jungle, could never translate the Bible for an illiterate people, and so on. (I mean, haven’t you?)
Well if that is the case, we definitely aren’t called to the mission field!
There are several truths found in Scripture that have freed my heart from fear and resistance to the mission field. My prayer is that in reading these truths you too would be willing to go to the most dangerous of places. You might be thinking…well I know I am not called to go. I would argue that one cannot know if they are called or not when their hearts are so filled with an unwillingness to be called. My only request is that you ask yourself if you are willing to go.
The truths that have freed my heart (and I pray will free yours!) from anxieties that were keeping me unwilling to go to the mission field are as follows:
1. God’s Grace is Sufficient
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “… a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Oh what an incredibly freeing passage! The Lord give Paul a “thorn in the flesh” and Paul pleaded with him to take it from him. But the Lord said – no, I won’t take it from you but I will show you that my grace is sufficient for you to bear it. In fact, the Lord’s power is made perfect in weakness. The very fact that there are huge snakes on the mission field, or that we have to leave our families, keeps us weak and dependant on the Lord. And it is at that point that the Lord’s power is revealed. I want everyone to know that there is absolutely nothing special about Dave and I – what is special is the great God who lives inside of us who will be with us wherever we go giving us power to endure hardships, persecutions, calamities, and so on.
2. God has Given me a Spirit of Power, Love, and Self Control
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
When you think about going to the mission field and fear fills your heart, that fear is not from God and needs to be repented of. The Lord calls us out of sin and death, gives us a new heart, the Holy Spirit, and makes us into warriors. If you are a believer, who you are at your core is a soldier – you are defined by power and love and self-control. You are designed and equipped to fight “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
A common prayer I pray when I am afraid is “Lord, please forgive me for this fear that has come into my heart and help my heart to trust in you. I know that you have given me a Spirit of power, love and self control and I ask that you give me the grace to be who I am. Give me the grace to have my mind rest on how powerful you are. Give me the grace to think about how you are the one causing the hearts of my adversaries to beat. You are determining whether they live or die. Lord you are the one who created and cursed that snake and I know that you are more powerful then it is. May my mind be stayed on you and may you keep me in perfect peace.”
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
My responsibility is to keep my mind thinking on the Lord and his joy is to in turn keep my heart at perfect peace.
3. I don’t have to Bear Tomorrows Worries Today
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When we tell people we are going into international missions, a common series of questions we receive is "What will you eat?" and "What will you drink?" and "What will you wear?" The truth is that we do not know the answers to these questions, but we are told not to seek these things. Instead, our responsibility is to seek first the Lord’s Kingdom and his righteousness and he as our loving father is well aware of the daily needs we will have. We trust him to provide.
4. All of Life’s Events are for my Good
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
Because I am in Christ, the Lord’s every purpose for me – whether that be sickness, death, loss of a loved one, persecution, and so on – is for my good. His disposition towards me is one of warmth, kindness, love, tenderness, and favor. Therefore, I have nothing to loose. The Lord is all powerful and says that he will work everything for my benefit - what then would stop me from going into missions?
5. The Lord is with me Always.
It is very difficult to leave dear friends and family and to go out to a foreign place with different people, customs, language, and culture. Nevertheless, I love God more than anyone and even when I am separated from all or most earthly relationships, I am never ever separated from the Lord.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”- Psalm 139:7-12
If I am alone in jail, the Lord is with me. If I am sitting in a hut translating the Bible on distant island for 30 years, the Lord will be sitting right beside me. If I am surrounded by demon worshippers and dark religion, darkness is not dark to me because the Lord is with me.
6. I will for all Eternity be Free from Pain, Hardships, and Sorrow
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." - Revelation 21:1-4
Lord willing, my life here on earth will be about 70 years. But my life in Heaven will be free from crying, pain, and suffering FOREVER. It will have no end.
I will NEVER have to say goodbye to brothers and sisters in the Lord ever again
I will NEVER feel pain
I will NEVER feel hunger
I will NEVER sin
I will NEVER have to worry about money
I will NEVER cry
I will NEVER grow old
I will NEVER be mocked for my faith in Christ
I will NEVER get sick
Since my salvation is secure in Heaven, I can endure suffering here on earth because it is only for a short while and it is, "preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Cor 4:17)
7. We’re all Going to Die Anyway, so Why not Die Tired?
Unless Christ returns within the next 100 years everyone alive today will be dead. Some will die in hospital beds, some in the war in Iraq, some in car accidents, and some will die as martyrs for Christ. If therefore all of us are going to die one way or another why would I not go onto the mission field? I cannot preserve my life, none of us can. Some people seem to think that if they go into missions they’ll die and if they stay in America they will live. This is not the case at all – all of us will die either here or there. Rest belongs to the next life, laboring in service to our King belongs to this one.