“How I would love to drift away into the ocean and spill out on an island filled with unreached, uncivilized people. Then I’ll build myself a wooden home, learn their language, spear a fish, climb a coconut tree, and ultimately preach the gospel to those unsaved people and teach them about the Lord” I stared at the ocean in front of me, imagining the scene in my mind. The desire and zeal for reaching out to those who haven’t heard the gospel yet have been stirring within me.
Just over 2 years before this event, when I was yet to know the Lord, the words ‘permanent missionary’ was a sour tasting word in my mouth. Why on earth would you leave all of this behind? Life is too good and pleasant here, people are too sweet, the future is bright, sure and very comfortable to look upon. To go to a strange place and leave this behind is mere folly… or so it seemed in my unregenerate heart, that was in love with this present world.
But, as Jesus said in John 12:25 – “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” And as Jim Eliot so accurately said – “He is no fool, who gives up what he can’t keep, to gain what he can’t loose.” The Lord saved me, and all the petty little things the world has to offer, looked pitiful in comparison with being a slave of the glorious Christ Jesus. The world’s appeal started to loose its sway and it started to be shown to my heart to be perishable, empty and unsatisfying. The Lord started to produce in my heart a concern for eternal things, like the eternal state of people’s souls…
Paul’s accusation to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 15:34 ‘haunted’ me as a young Christian: “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not keep on sinning. For some has no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame” Paul is here calling them to reality, awakening them from their ‘near unconscious state’ (stupor) – for they live as drunk people, as blind people, as people who needs to have their feet placed firmly on the ground again. Hear this, Oh Corinthians: The dead – will – be – RAISED! Do you not get that? This needed to register with them. Dear Corinthians, live, realizing the truth of the condition of people’s souls. Don’t live in your ‘let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ mentality (or our YOLO mentality) and just lean back and relax, for that is a foolish mentality, since resurrection is sure to happen. It was their shame, and I knew it would be my shame, and our shame, if we continue to live nonchalantly, in self-indulgence and sin, while people are perishing around them (John 3:16-21)
How I ought to be ashamed if I keep this delightful grace to myself. This simple illustration captured it so well to me: Christians are like those who found the only source of water in the desert, and they need to call others to this source of water to come and drink from it. How cruel and selfish if they find this water source and just sit and drink from this endless fountain, not having a care in the world about the thirsty souls wandering about.
The truth is, people will not find this water source, they will not find Christ, without someone going to them to preach the Gospel to them. Rom 10:13-15 – “For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed, and how will they believe unless they have heard, and how will they hear unless someone preaches, and how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
As a disciple of Jesus, my obligation to share the Gospel became more and more apparent. I had a growing concern and burden upon my heart to reach the unreached. The tribes, tongues, peoples and nations abroad who have not been warned to flee from the wrath to come, by placing their trust in Jesus. As Charles H. Spurgeon says:
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over out dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for“
Only later did I come to know how many groups of people are still unwarned, how many are still unreached. There are many children of God yet to be gathered! John 11:52 – “And he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for this nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” Jesus bought people with His blood from every tribe, language, people and nation (Rev 7:9-11) and His commanded his church to go and proclaim the Gospel to them (2 Cor 5:18-20, Acts 13:47, Luke 24:47, Psalm 96:2-4)
Missionary work is God’s idea, not man’s. It is a command, given to Jesus’ disciples, by Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given. As John Piper says, in the light of Matt 28:19-20, “you get the goers, you get the senders and you get the disobedient” Every child of God who have come under the grace of God ought to have a heart that seeks to advance the Gospel far beyond its current borders, and if you have that heart, you’ll do all that it takes to see it happen.
My heart was moved as I watched a documentary of missionaries who obeyed the command and started preaching to the Taliabo people, starting in Genisis. One of the ladies said “When I heard that God made me, I was so happy.” Growing up in a Christian home, that boggled my brain – imagine hearing for the first time that I am created by God. Not only did it boggle my brain, but it deeply touched my heart to think that there are still many people who do not know God, or Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
I wanted the unreached to know God. For among their false gods, who by nature are not gods at all, there is none faithful, all sovereign, trustworthy, all wise, just, merciful, good, righteous, loving, gracious, powerful, compassionate, slow to anger, all-knowing, omnipresent… one perfectly holy. They don’t know a god who is both a righteous god and a savior, for there is only one! (Isaiah 45:21) Oh, that I may tell them about my God! Send me Lord!
Many has had the privilege to broaden the border of the Gospel in generations past, to teach people about the only true God, and I was delighted to read biographies on missionaries’ work. I read about the unreached tribes before the Gospel came, their believes, their strange habits and culture. I read about the missionaries’ challenges, the adaptions, the joys, the blessings, the power of God, the much needed wisdom, the suffering endured, the refining fire… all for the sake of the salvation of the people who received the Good News at heart for what it is – Good News.
I no longer thought it so be folly, but still, the sufferings, sacrifices and persecutions which awaits frightened me some days. I couldn’t understand how Paul went to city after city, not merely thinking that he might suffer, but sometimes knowing that suffering surely awaits him. How did He continue so relentlessly in his work? One day, I came across Acts 20:23-24 – “The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and affliction await me. But I do not account my own life as being of any value, nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify of the gospel of the grace of God”
How was Paul able to do this? By not loving and fondling his life here on earth, and making himself comfortable, settling right in as though it is a permanent dwelling. By obeying Jesus when He said “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Which is exactly what all of Christ’s disciples have to do anyway, every single day, in order to hearty servants of Christ. I might as well go and do it abroad.
And so, the Lord worked in my heart over many years, through His Scripture and the lives of missionaries of old. I spoke with my parents, who love the Lord, continuously about this growing desire. I will never forget the first time that I made this desire known publically, outside of my family. I was at our youth group, after we’ve watched a film on the work of Jim Eliot in Ecuador, and I told my friends “please pray for me, I am seriously considering becoming a missionary.” Later on, I started discussing the possibility of becoming a missionary with my pastors at my home church, seeking for their approval, if they deem it fitting, to send me to an unreached people group. A small handful of friends greatly encouraged me to pursue missions, and the way they spur me on to trust the Lord to open up the way, be it His will, has been priceless.
The Lord guided me when I had a thousand doubts, questions, and uncertainties in my head “what kind of person should become missionaries? How do I know if I’m supposed to go? How do I move forward and trust the Lord and commit myself to go? Maybe I should first go study at the university? Maybe I should wait a few more years? Do I have my motives set straight?” He lead me and leads me and will lead me through all uncertainties, follies, joys, ambitions, faithlessness, unfaithfulness, zealousness and weaknesses, because He is faithful and He is the commander and sustainer of the great commission. He said “and behold I will be with you always, until the end of the age” and so He will.
Mark 10:29-31 – “Jesus said: ‘truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father of mother or children or lands, 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.” The joy of heaven lies before me, with my God promising that he’ll never leave me nor forsake me.
While here on earth I know that I will only be moving from one sin-cursed place to another. This sacrifice is very, very, very small when compared to my Lord Jesus Christ! Christ, the ultimate example for us to follow, He who made the greatest sacrifice one can imagine, who came from heaven to earth, to die for sinners, unworthy people like myself, on the cross. Phil 2:4-11 – “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This is some of the major thoughts and influences that aided my decision making. I’ve learned a lot in the mean time
- One of the greatest helping tools, that greatly helped me in my decision making, was a free booklet written by Joel James on biblical decision making. I can really recommend this for all who are uncertain, or even dread making decisions.