Missions is the work of Christ. It's basically carrying Jesus' life and his desires inside of us, and moving into places where people don't know him.
God calls people to let go of their normal life, drop everything and live for his honor in the nations. We give up our own lives and plans, so that others can see him and live. We live as his messengers, ambassadors, and friends.Get Started!
There are still a number of places in the world you can go where almost no-one knows Jesus.
Go, live among the nations, learn the language, share Christ, and make disciples.
Let it go. God can use your career, but he doesn't have to, and neither do you.
You will suffer, but Jesus promised to be with us always. He dearly loves those that trust and follow him.
A lot of the places we’ve thought of as ‘mission fields’ are actually full of Christians now, and they don’t need our help anymore. This is great, but is there any place left for missionaries to go?
There are still a few places in the world where hardly anyone knows Jesus. People living in these places almost never get a chance to meet a follower of Christ face-to-face, especially not one that speaks their language.
In fact, 1/4 of the world has no personal access to a follower of Jesus. (stat) 86% of all Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists do not know a Christian. (stat) That leaves a lot of people that you can go to.
Go somewhere unreached, somewhere where people don’t know him, and start from scratch. Go somewhere, learn a language, and be the only living ambassador of Christ that people ever meet.
There are millions of people eagerly waiting for someone just to come and take the time to talk to them. And most of the time, they’re incredibly friendly.
“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”
Take a look at this map to see where the most lost people are. Aim for the thickest globs of red!
For more important stats visit The Travelling Team - Stats.
The idea of ‘missions’ can be quite daunting. There are all sorts of techniques, methodologies, strategies that people talk about. Thankfully living out the Great Commission can be wonderfully simple.
Go somewhere, live among people who don’t know Jesus, learn the language, talk to them, share Christ, and make disciples.
The job description is as basic today as it was 2000 years ago: He’s calling us to be his witnesses. Jesus asked us to talk about him, heal the sick, drive out demons, and teach others to follow him. As we do this, he will build his church.
We can live and make it our chief ambition to simply make him known. Our ‘strategy’ can be as basic as going somewhere and telling people how awesome he is and what he did.
What might this actually look like? You could pray each day and then go out to drink tea with people. Others could chat with women knitting in parks, or meet and hang out with super-friendly university students. However the Spirit leads. The opportunities are endless, but the laborers are few.
We need people on the field who will take years of time and effort to be available to do this simple thing: pray and talk to people.
Pray. Worship. Listen. Tell the lost people about Jesus. Pray for the sick. Then befriend and encourage (ie. disciple) believers to follow and trust Jesus fully. Just persevere and do this in a foreign language and culture for years.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Many people feel the pull to go while they’re in the middle of university, or when they’re just getting established in their careers. So what can the do to follow the call and make use of their career?
God can use your career, but he doesn’t have to, and neither do you.
In many cases, people have to give up their careers and dreams in order to get to these places where no-one knows Jesus. Sometimes God does clearly speak and lead people into a career or skill they need to use to go. But often times he calls us to leave it all behind.
After all, Jesus left all the glories of heaven just to come and walk among us.
So we can give away a really great career and education, just to be able to drink tea with a bunch of people far, far away.
It’s perfectly ok to throw your career/education away, even if you spent your whole life planning and working to be something.
Let go of your life, everything about your life, and let him lead and use you.
“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
“I’d love to help out in missions, but I don’t know what I have to give or do for people. What could I contribute?”
You have the life of Christ inside of you. What could possibly be a more valuable gift than that?
God is calling people to himself, and we represent him as carriers of his presence. You can walk into a place full of millions lost people, and be the only representative of Jesus people ever meet. Think about that. That in itself is a huge. I was amazed to see how eagerly God works through us to reveal himself, if we just step out there where no-one knows him.
You can offer Jesus. You can carry his words to the lost, and you encourage other believers and co-laborers with his love and comfort. You can share the message of the cross. You can be a simple jar of clay, carrying a very precious treasure.
“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” (2 Cor 2:14)
There are places full of darkness and death, simply because people who know Jesus haven’t taken the years of time and effort to exist there. We go and live there so that Christ can reveal himself to them, through us.
What do you have to offer? Your life, and the message of the cross.
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body… we ore always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Cor 4:10)
“I want to serve in missions, but do I need to be a doctor, or businessman, or computer techie, or tradesperson??”
Not necessarily. There are lots of unreached places you can go without any skill or profession whatsoever.
Let me say that again. You can go without any skill or profession.
Some countries do require certain jobs or qualifications. But even in those places, God can do amazing things by providing business or job opportunities for people in ways that they could have never expected or planned.
Actually, it seems most of the time it seems that God provides these kind of “professional” opportunities or qualifications after people surrender everything and trust Him for a way forward.
So if you feel eager and called to go, don’t discount yourself because you don’t have a profession or a head for business. God can powerfully use you to reach tons of people if you just trust him and give him the years to do so.
Ultimately the only thing you need to go and work in the harvest fields is surrendered life a heart full of the Holy Spirit. The only qualification you need is your membership as a son or daughter in the family of God.
Sadly, many people who are eager to go are laden with student debt. It’s a terrible tragedy that young people are led to believe they need to take out massive loans to pay for expensive degrees, just so they can live for the Gospel or get into missions. You don’t need to do that.
If you’re digging yourself into debt with student loans, stop now and get out!
If you do need to get a degree, trust God to provide all your needs, without taking out loans or becoming enslaved to lenders and debt. Stay free.
“The borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
It doesn’t take years of theological schooling to be able to tell someone that Jesus died for them. And you don’t need a degree to be able to lovingly pray and point people towards trusting and following Jesus. Remember, the disciples didn’t have have an ‘education’ by today’s standards.
But this life does take a certain kind of training. You need to be obedient and faithful to follow the commands of Jesus. You need to learn the Bible well. You need to be strengthened through prayer to stay faithful and healthy in the face of increased stress, loneliness, and temptation. The right kind of Bible College or discipleship program can be of great help, fostering and encouraging these disciplines.
Practically speaking, the main skill that you will need is an understanding of the language and the culture. And that’s earned by months and years of conversations and cups of tea. This is a serious skill, and a lifelong pursuit.
A nurse has to go to school for 2-4 years to learn the skills needed for the trade. A missionary often needs to spend 2-4 years of hard work to learn to get comfortable enough in the language to be able to have a heart-to-heart with someone who needs to be discipled. This takes time.
Why not spend your most valuable ‘education’ years learning this? We need people who will spend years of serious energies trying to get comfortable in another language and culture. Use your younger years to do this, and then live to pour out the words of life on thirsty ground.
Also, some practical training on things like cross-cultural adaptation and language acquisition are available through many missions agencies, or missions focused Bible Schools.
Whatever you do, please don’t take out student loans. Avoid them like the plague. Stay free from debt and be ready to follow him. Nothing is more tragic than seeing a young person eager to go, but laden with student debt. If you do need to go to school, trust God to provide without becoming enslaved to moneylenders.
Many people don’t like the idea of getting up in front of churches and asking for money. That’s understandable.
The good news is that you don’t need to fundraise or ask people for money.
God can move people to give and support you, without you saying a word. You also don’t have to worry about getting hired by a church or sending organization. And you certainly don’t need to worry about where your paycheck will come from years down the road.
God promises to provide everything we need if we trust and follow him.
Don’t worry about job security, paychecks, your financial future, retirement, or fundraising. Don’t worry about money at all. He’s got his servants covered.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:31-33, NLT)
“God’s work done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply.” (Hudson Taylor)
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8)
If you want to go run with him into the harvest fields, let it go, get rid of it all and give to the poor.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Feeling stuck to all your stuff? Let go of your treasure, and let your heart roam with his out into the harvest fields.
God’s leading can often be very subtle, and as faint as even a hint of a desire. After all,
“It is God who works in you to will (to desire) and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phillipians 1:13)
His call and his leading can be as obvious as an audible voice or vision (Acts 13:2-3) or as subtle as a nagging desire to talk to go and talk to ‘x’ people.
But what if a clear desire isn’t even there?
Some would even say that everyone is called to go. Matthew 28:19 says “Go,” and so our only questions should only be “Where?” and “How far?” Often times we are required to take steps of faith, and trust that God will lead and guide along the way.
Or, as one amazing missionary woman once told me:
“I knew that if it wasn’t God’s will for me to go, he could stop me.”
It’s almost always a best to go with a team, and not alone.
Teams and sending groups provide a lot of community, wisdom, and accountability that’s absolutely vital in this line of work.
Try to find a good, Spirit-led group of people you can go with.
Try to find a group of people that can encourage you and walk with you in the simple work of loving Jesus, praying, and making him known.
It may seem difficult to give up all your friends and community in your home country, and it is. But you will often find the sweetest friendships you ever had among other fellow-workers out in the field. I know I have.
Great! Use the freedom and flexibility of your precious single years to run and dive into a far-away people and language.
Singleness can be a huge advantage, even in traditional societies where being single is really weird. (For example, check out this story.)
And who knows, maybe your spouse is out there waiting for you! Our Father is the one who arranges these things after all.
Practically speaking, your chances of finding a life partner who’s passionate and committed to the same things you are are actually a lot higher once you get out on the field.
Just like people wanting to live for the gospel have to give up control over their career and financial future, they often have to give up control over this area as well. Trust that he will lead you and take care of you, whether you’re married or single.
You can! But it’s a lot harder to get married and then become a missionary.
You need to get connected with somebody who shares your passion to lose everything and waste your life in places where almost no-one knows Jesus. You can’t drag someone along in that kind of life, no matter how supportive or submissive they are.
If you’re going to be a missionary, your spouse has to be someone who holds the missionary call as their core desire, and actually lives it out. It can’t just be someone who talks about it or agrees with it. So many people talk about how passionate they are about missions, about how excted they are to go, but few of them actually go and persevere for years.
There’s a huge difference between someone who talks about being willing to go, and someone who’s a proven worker.
If you’re going to get married, you need someone who will joyfully run with you towards the same goal, through all kinds of nasty, trying circumstances. You need someone who will thrive on God’s passions in dry, thirsty, and lonely ‘pioneer’ places. Only God can set up that kind of match, so I say it’s best to take your hands off and avoid trying to make it happen.
If you want to go, don’t wait around wondering if that guy or girl will follow you into the mission field. Don’t get romantically involved or emotionally attached to someone who may or may not go. Just go, let go of everything, and go! Trust God to miraculously connect you with someone else who’s fully committed and happily living out the call. It’ll most likely happen out on the field.
Don’t wait to get married before you become a missionary. If you wait for marriage you may never get get to go. First become a missionary and go. Then let God get you married, if that’s what’s he thinks is best.
“I wouldn’t know how to share the gospel… I mean, where would I even start?”
That’s the funny thing… the places that most desperately need the gospel are also the places where it’s easiest to share the gospel.
Most unreached people groups are actually incredibly interested in spiritual things. And they’re often very rarely exposed to someone who believes in something different than them. And so, they are often very eager to have spritual conversations.
It often comes up in the first five minutes of conversation. People might be curious, or they might be trying to convert you, but the topic of religion is very hard to avoid. In many places, actually, talking about God and faith is about as normal and comfortable as talking about the weather, or the latest sports match.
Even if you’re not trying to share your faith, people will ask you about it, and you’ll be almost forced to tell them about Jesus.
No, it wont be safe. Jesus never guaranteed safety, it may not be safe. The question that we should be asking is: Is He worthy? Is it worth making him know?
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Matt 8:35)
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” - Jim Elliot
Great! Don’t worry about that. Just concentrate on telling people the gospel and making disciples. Let God assemble his gathering of believers and build his church. That way it can happen in a natural, local and indigenous way.
Let’s not try to import and establish our foreign ideas of church buildings or programs. That’s a huge headache for everyone involved. Let’s just import the gospel and love and obedience to Christ.
Is there any command in the Bible to ‘plant churches?’ No.
We plant the gospel, Christ builds his church.
Let go of him/her. Break up with him/her and you go proclaim the kingdom of God!
Sadly, this is a very common situation. People can feel torn because they have this great person in their lives, but that person doesn’t want to lay down their lives to take the gospel to the unreached. They might want to “try out missions” for a little bit, or follow you “wherever you go”, but they don’t have the same drive to devote their lives to this cause, no matter the cost. They don’t have the joy and motivation that will carry them through years and years of service on the field.
Whoever you get married to, they need to be someone who has no other ambitions or ultimate goals in life other than to make Jesus known in the darkest places. And I believe the best way to do this is to just get out there and then find someone who’s committed and doing the same.
To go to the field, Hudson Taylor had to break up with the girl of his dreams. It was brutal and painful. In fact, it was so bad that he almost didn’t go. He almost stayed back and got married to her. But he knew he had to go. And he saw the call to the unreached as higher than some potential for human love.
This is serious. Your call and a life of harvesting amoung the unreached is at stake. You need to sacrifice everything to go!
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