Summary: Mission work is hard work. Many missionaries endure more things than you could possibly imagine. If you are not truly called to the "Mission Field", then please reconsider your position to serve in this type ministry. Let me share our exploits w/you.
The "Mission Field". What is it? Where is it? Who shall go?
We are missionaries and the road to become one was very peculiar....or was it? We know many successful missionaries and they all have something in common.....on how they were led to the mission field. Please read our personal testimony below. You will be touched if you read this entire message. These writings can be used as a sermon or can be read by someone contemplating mission work as a full time vocation. You will read about a prayer that you've never heard before. It's astonishing and very moving. This message is jammed packed with advice for the future missionary and the local church. Most churches really don't know what it takes to be a missionary. This is a must read for all clergy and mission boards/committees in the local church.
What is a Missionary anyway? There are many definitions out there, but let me share a couple.
Jesus said to them again, . . . "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" —John 20:21 (NIV)
Matthew 28:19 & 20 (NIV) - (19) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age".
Missionary: "a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country". Of course, missionaries don't have to be "foreign soil type". Many missionaries never leave their own country. A second definition is: "a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work". or "a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others".
In a few minutes, I'll share a quote by a very famous preacher and author Oswald Chambers, that I respectfully ask you study completely, but first, let me tell you the MOST IMPORTANT thing that must occur before reaching a decision to "go" abroad.....and become a missionary. You must first have a "PERSONAL ENCOUNTER" with God. I know many of you have heard this before, but have you heard it from a missionary who really did have a personal....life changing....encounter with our Lord? Let me share my story and maybe, just maybe, you'll relate.
About 20 years ago I went on my first "missionary trip". It was helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity. I traveled a whopping 11 miles from my home in Ohio to the work site. About 14 of us from my church "went" and we served. After completion, I felt something......but couldn't really put my finger on it. It was a real blessing......considering my life wasn't really full of the "giving attitude" that Christ was wanting of me. I grew up with the notion that we should strive to get everything we can during our short life here on Earth. I was materialistic to say the least.....greedy......and very possessive with "my" goods. God began a work "in" me that I really didn't realize at the time. I spent 20 years in the military and this further shaped my varied attitudes about possessions and how I should handle them. Not good.
The second mission trip was to a food kitchen in Cincinnati Ohio. (60 miles from home) We "went" and served about 100 lunches to some very poor people. Many had mental issues and most had hygiene issues. I was critical of them, thinking "why don't they just go get cleaned up and get a job?". Although I never said this to our church group, I sure felt strongly about "my" opinion of the matter. On the ride home, God spoke to me again. He softened my stance because someone said we all could be in their situation if we weren't careful. God gave me a blessing because I felt something stirring inside me......was it compassion? I was glad to have served "them" in this way. Boy did I miss the point. I wasn't serving "them". I was serving "Him", but didn't understand that. God blessed me anyway by giving me a wonderful warm fuzzy.
The third mission trip was way out for me. 26 of us went to Juarez Mexico (1500 miles away) to build a house for a poor family. This took us out of our comfort zone. We had to raise money, fly on an airplane, sleep on the floor of a church, endure the 105 degree heat and somehow communicate with people who couldn't speak "our" tongue. I though all Mexicans spoke English as their second language. Not! It was hard work, but God did another thing in my life. This time, I was really feeling good. Again, 20 years military told me "we came, we conquered, mission accomplished". This is how I was programmed. But God began to massage my heart in a special way. I actually shed a tear when we pulled away.....waving to the recipients of the house....whom I got to know briefly when building their home. It was a touching moment. I didn't really want anyone to see me whimper, so I turned my head and waved as I put the last nail pouch and circular saw in the bus. I still didn't get it. I didn't understand whom I was really serving. After a couple weeks back home, the feelings went away.....giving little thought to the people and their plight..... in Mexico.