Are You a Missionary?
Here’s a thought. If every Christian is called to be a witness, and if every church has a global mission at its door, why are only certain people called “missionaries,” and why do boards and agencies try to do the work of the local church? There is not a single hint in the New Testament that the early Christians saw evangelism as the responsibility of certain professionals. Of course, people and agencies that work with and through the local church may be said to be fulfilling their mission responsibility. But in reality, every one of us ought to be a “North American Missionary.” Weighty dissertations have been written by theologians on the “call of God” to missions, but every believer is called to missions – full time, I might add.
Jesus Himself was the ultimate missionary, and He entrusted to His followers world missions. And even if we cannot travel to a foreign field, the “uttermost parts of the world” have come to us. Just look at any college or university campus today. Missiologists call this “global missions in reverse,” but it is no less missions. That’s why I was so pleased and excited to hear that one of my doctoral students has been asked to teach communications at a secular university next fall. I imagine he will do more than disseminate information, too. I can see him giving himself in time-consuming acts of missional love simply because they are needed. After all, sharing one’s faith is simply helping anyone take a step closer to God.
I look back with awe at the mileposts God used in preparing me for my present responsibilities as a global “missionary” to Ethiopia, from meeting real live missionaries and missions-minded people while a child in Hawaii to missionary training in Wheaton with Greater Europe Mission’s Eurocorps team to sharing my faith as a student in Basel to preaching in such varied places as India and Korea. At the same time, I cannot and dare not lose sight of my “home mission field” of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, where the cultural and social barriers can be just as real as those in Ethiopia or India. A thrilling part of being evangelistic is seeing people of different citizenships becoming citizens of the kingdom of God and missionaries themselves. Think of a Bereket up in Gondar or Mohammed in an Alaba prison cell. I like to think that whatever work I do in my career as a professor and author, my ultimate task is to equip others to carry on Christ’s mission. And I mean all Christians, not just those who are professionally trained.
Are you, then, a true missionary of the Gospel? Are you creating cynicism or compassion by your actions? Are you heartbroken that countless people have never experienced the forgiveness of their sins? Or that their condition is wretched? Will you do whatever is needed in order to fulfill your commitment to God? In short, are you a missionary – locally, regionally, globally, even cross-culturally (see Acts 1:8)?
It’s a question worth pondering.
February 22, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.