In part 1 of this blog series, I talked about how we as Christians living in America need to see ourselves as missionaries, and our communities as our mission fields. I created a survey and sent it to 5 different missionaries, asking them specific questions about being a missionary. In part 2 of this blog series, I shared the missionaries responses to the first 4 questions of the survey, as well as some questions for us to consider based upon their answers.
In this 3rd and final part of this blog series, I want to share what we can learn from the missionaries answers, and how we can begin to live as missionaries in our own communities and culture.
We as Followers of Christ are all called to be missionaries in our daily life, no matter what our job is. Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, 1 Peter 3:15, and 2 Timothy 4:2-5 are all verses that talk about sharing our faith…and all of those verses apply to every Follower of Christ, not just full-time missionaries.
There are four main things that we should learn from what the missionaries shared and apply to our own lives as we seek to live as missionaries in our daily lives.
We need to make sure we know what the needs are in our communities
Where there are people, there are needs. Be it physical needs, emotional needs, or spiritual needs. If we want to be effective in reaching out to our community, we have to pay attention to what the different needs are. We should actually be intentionally looking for the needs in our community, so that we can begin to address them. Yes, we want to share our faith, which is a spiritual need…but we also need to seek to take care of physical needs that we are aware of (James 2:14-17). We can’t expect people to care about what we know until they know that we care for them. Often, taking care of physical needs will lead to opportunities to be able to share our faith…which leads to the second thing we should learn and apply.
We need to be praying for and looking for opportunities to share our faith
To live as a missionary every day requires that we have the mindset of a missionary…a mindset that says we are ready to share our faith, and we even are preparing for the opportunities to do so. That begins with praying for those opportunities to come, praying we are ready for them, and praying God gives us the words to say when we take advantage of the opportunities that do come our way. This also means we have to be reading God’s Word so we know what to share…it is difficult to share with someone what you don’t know yourself. The goal is to be prepared at all times to share our faith (1 Peter 3:15). Look around you and begin to see all the different opportunities that come your way every day. There are potential opportunities all around us…we just have to be ready. This truth leads to the third thing we should learn and apply.
We need to get to know the people we live around and regularly coming in contact with
I shared 2 quotes from the missionaries when I shared their answers to this question in part 2. They were such great quotes, I want to share them again. When I asked them ways that they go about meeting people, one said “Being friendly and saying hello” and the other said “Getting out of our house and going to where the people are”. Those are things we can do. They actually aren’t even hard to do. We just have to be willing to leave our house and meet people. We have to be willing to get out and say hi, go to where people are and begin conversations, and to be willing and able to spend time with people. This really comes down to whether or not we really care about neighbors (Matthew 22:39). If we do, we will want to go out and meet them…if we don’t, we won’t really care about meeting them. But the truth is, we can’t be a witness to people if we aren’t getting to know people.
We need to rely on God for strength because living as a missionary will not be easy
There is this cliché statement that is often said in Christian circles…”in God’s hands there is no safer place to be”. That is nice sounding, but that statement is actually not true. I can think of a lot of places that are “safer” than stepping out of our comfort zones and going where God calls us to. Sitting in our house watching TV, only going to places we are very familiar with, spending every day in the church building, etc. The reality is that God calls us to places that are not always safe and that often will have difficulties associated with them. Consider that all but 1 of the 11 remaining Disciples (after Judas left the group) were martyred for their faith, or that in many countries today Christians are being treated poorly, tortured, and even killed for their faith. Yes, God is sovereign and in control. Yes, there is security and peace in knowing that what happens is ultimately his plan. And yes, as Followers of Christ we have a secure future with God in Heaven. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to our safety or lack of difficulty on this earth when we are doing what God calls us to.
In John 16:33 Jesus said to his Disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When we are willing to Follow where Jesus leads…to live as missionaries in our own communities, to begin looking for opportunities to share our faith, then we will experience difficulties. Spiritual Warfare is real…Satan will attack us when we are living for God. So we must rely on God for strength. Jesus didn’t say we wouldn’t experience difficulties. Rather, he said we should expect it, but we can rely on him and find peace in him because he has overcome the world.
There is one last question that I asked the missionaries in the survey that I have not shared their answers to yet. Allow me to share it now…
Any other thoughts concerning living a life of missions that you want to share?
One missionary shared the importance of making sure you know and understand as much about the people and culture as possible. They said “we have found ourselves in conversations with people who are genuinely hurt because missionaries have spoken poorly of the people’s culture. Yes, there are parts of cultures that are based in the occult, and I am not saying go to temple and make sacrifices with them. I am saying that it is important to understand as much about a culture as possible.” That means we have to spend a lot of time to get to know people as best we can, which takes time. We also must learn to be very careful when we talk to people that we don’t say things that will make our ability to share our faith more difficult.
That same missionary also said “One thing I would say is that moving to the mission field does not make you a super Christian. If you weren’t sharing your faith in the States, 9 out of 10 you won’t share your faith on the field.” What a powerful truth! We need to be sharing our faith here first.
Another missionary said “being an overseas missionary was the best thing they ever did for their family”. Even with all the difficulties and work it took, it was the best thing they ever did. They had to be willing to deal with the difficulties though in order to discover that.
A third missionary said “I truly believe that every Christian is a Missionary. God has commissioned us all to share the gospel. Some do it through different ways, but every Christian ought to seek opportunities to love God and reach out to neighbors every day. We’re all Missionaries.”
That perfectly sums up what everything, so I will simply end with this challenge from that missionary to you…be the missionary you are called to be!
Another blog series that is similar to and works in conjunction with this one is the series on Discipleship.