If you feel that God is calling you to the mission field, I want to thank you for your willingness to stand in the gap for the lost souls of this world. You are needed more than you can imagine.
If you are ready to answer God’s command to the mission field, here is a question you need to consider:
How does someone understand where the Lord is calling them to go? God has clearly told us to go to every nation on earth. He said, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations.” There are 196 countries in the world today. Yet there are not missionaries in all of these countries. That means corporately we are disobeying a direct command of God. Furthermore, while there are some countries that have a missionary or two, there are many cites in that nation that have millions of people in them, and yet not one missionary.
I like what Hudson Taylor said while preaching at a conference of 200 Christian leaders. He said, “We have a command to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in light of this command, you do not need a calling to go to the needy mission fields of the world, rather you need to prove that you are called to stay home!”
I can’t say on an individual basis who should go where. I am not trying to indict any missionary for his choice of field, since I know God wants someone in every one of these countries. However, I am trying to get us to see some tendencies that we have, that can lead us to bunch ourselves up in a few countries.
These tendencies are as follows:
1. We go with what we’ve seen. I have listened to many people tell me about how they were called to the mission field. Many times it has to do with some type of contact with another missionary. I think this is awesome. Lamentations 3:51 says, “Mine eye affecteth mine heart.”
Missionaries on furlough can be used in a great way to burden hearts for the harvest. Many teens take mission trips, and I praise God for this. After going and seeing the need in that country, they are challenged, and often feel compelled to go back to that very country. I have good friends who were called this way to the mission field, and I don’t doubt their calling for a minute. However, many of us need to be burdened on that trip, and then go somewhere else where there is no witness whatsoever. That is what the Apostle Paul strived to do, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:” (Romans 15:20).
2. We go with what we know. Two points here. If I asked you where Turkmenistan was, would you be able to find it on a map? Few people feel called to countries they have never heard of. Yet those countries exist, and the people in them need Christ. Maybe before you let yourself feel too sure of your calling, you should simply get a map out, and examine it with the idea of “all nations” and see how God might direct.
The second point is this; maybe we feel God has prepared us in a special way by giving us the ability to speak another language. God prepared me that way. Before I even went to Bible college, I spoke Russian well enough to lead people to Christ. I had to ask myself though, where does God want me to go. Just because I speak Russian, does not necessarily mean that God wants me in Russia. However, when I analyzed the field, I found a great many cities with a million or more people without missionaries. I minster in the city of Samara right next to another city called Tolyatti. Our area has 3 million people in it and the nearest missionary to me is 16 hours away by train. When I was convinced of the need, I went.
3. We go with what we expect. Sometimes we see God moving in a great way in a country and we get excited about it. Many souls are being saved and God is doing a great work, and we want to be a part of it. Consider this, some small group of missionaries were the first to be in that country and God used them as a catalyst to start something great. How wonderful would it be for God to use you not just to be a part of a process that is already going, but to actually be the catalyst to start the process of a great spiritual work where it is not happening, and without God using you, might never start! John Keith Falconer said, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.”
4. We go with what is close. We might have relatives from a country, or have lived there for a time. We might have grown up near an immigrant group and had many friends in that group. We might have lived in many different countries, as a result of our parents’ jobs. Here is my big point. If all of us depend greatly on our life experiences to define God’s call in our lives, because many of us have very similar lives, we will end up in the same few countries. God wants some of us to go to countries that we are completely unprepared for, where dictionaries of the language can’t be found in America, from which there are almost no immigrants in America, and to which very few Americans have traveled.
5. We go with what is allowed. We all love freedom, and safety is nice too. Yet, there are millions of people who live in countries that are not free or safe. If we are not careful, when we hear that a country is “closed,” we feel absolved of our responsibility to reach that country. I don’t think any country is closed to God.
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.—Psalm 24:1
We just have to be creative and dedicated in methods to reach these countries. Does the country accept doctors from abroad, then become a doctor. Do they want to learn English, become a teacher. The Bible says, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; …I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22). It would be much easier to go to another country, and you would probably see more people saved. God tells us to try to reach every creature. Let’s obey God’s word, and leave the results to Him.
I am not trying to get you to go to a certain country, and I am not against missionaries working together. However, I am for every servant of God considering “every creature” and “every nation” and keeping his eyes wide open to the whole world. A preacher once said, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” God bless you as you follow Him.