Rex Cobb from Baptist Bible Translators Institute wrote the following article encouraging missionaries to stay the course! Or course there are legitimate reasons missionaries must come off the mission field, but we hope, as I’m sure the author does, that this article will encourage those on the field to keep going and those who are considering missionary service to be in it for the long haul.
With eight billion souls in our world, and three hundred eight-five thousand being born every day, the words of Jesus still ring true, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” We need thousands of new missionaries; and we need the present ones to stay the course! No one announces their intention to go to the mission field without a desire for a long, fruitful ministry. Yet, it seems that missionaries who spend decades on the field have become less common. Why? Recently, a missions-minded pastor asked me to share my thoughts on selecting missionaries to support who will stay the course. This article, which I pray will be a help to both missionaries and pastors, is the result.
While we encourage all to consider missionary service, presenting yourself to the churches as a missionary is like matrimony—it should not be entered into lightly. Some missionaries have asked churches to invest in them only to fail to reach the field or to depart prematurely. William D. Taylor with the World Evangelical Fellowship Missions Commission claims that 71% of early missionary departures are preventable. God’s people want to invest in new missionaries, but they deserve some measure of assurance that the missionary will stay the course and do what he promises.
Missionaries are expensive but well worth the cost if they accomplish their goals. We understand that sometimes it becomes impossible for a missionary to reach the field or remain there. He may face political unrest or visa problems. But if this happens, it may be God’s direction to a different field, not His leadership back home. Sickness is a common reason for leaving the field. Missionary friend, if this happened—we should say when this happens—consider getting medical help there or in a neighboring country. If you must return stateside for treatment, determine to return to your field as soon as possible. Give up your support and stay home only as a last resort.
Sometimes missionaries leave their field due to unresolved conflicts with other missionaries or nationals. If these painful incidents occur, seek counsel from your pastor and others. Separate yourself from that location, if necessary, but not from your mission field. (See Acts 15:36-41.) God put you there; don’t let a man send you home!
Failure to learn the language well and become comfortable in the culture is often an underlying factor in early departures. Inability to communicate is very frustrating. Determine to spend at least your first two years in nothing but language and culture learning. Our pre-field linguistic training will help you learn quickly and accurately and help you to recognize and deal with the language and culture shock you will inevitably face. Your ability to adapt is vital to success in communication. It is difficult to remain in an uncomfortable place when you struggle to communicate.
If you are a supporting pastor, we suggest you not simply rely on a questionnaire or brief phone conversation before adding a missionary for monthly support. A personal call to the missionary’s sending pastor might reveal some valuable information. Does the pastor have any reservations about sending him? Is the sending church completely behind him, and how much money are they investing in him? Is the pastor willing to visit his missionary couple on the field to ensure that they are adapting well and learning the language?
Next, ask questions about the missionaries’ family life and active ministry. Are they humble, hospitable, and ministry-minded? Have they served faithfully in the church? Have they taught Sunday School or Junior Church, cleaned toilets, worked in the bus ministry, the jail, or in the nursing home? How well does the pastor really know the man, his wife, and his children? Does he only see them on Sundays and Wednesdays? What is the home really like? Is the couple training their children? Is the wife completely dedicated to a life on the foreign field? Are they willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the ministry?
Discover the character of the missionary. Is the pastor quite sure his missionary is not viewing pornography? Is he (or his wife) addicted to his cell phone or social media? Can he stick with a task? Can he put down his electronic toys and get his hands dirty? Is he an extra-mile Christian or does he do only what is expected? How does the missionary react to adversity? Can he respond Biblically to interpersonal conflicts? Is he faithful and consistent in giving of his finances? Language learning and missionary work require that he endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Finally, discover all you can about the missionaries’ preparation. Do they know their Bible? Have they been to Bible college, or do they have a good explanation why it was not necessary? Do they plan to get specialized linguistic and cross-cultural training before going to the field? Do not accept the response, “We don’t have time.” They take time for financial preparation. Nine months of Advanced Missionary Training will prepare them to communicate clearly in a new language. Have they researched their country and know its history, heroes, culture, and government? What have they learned about the Bible they will be using? Do they care about its accuracy and purity? Do they know or care about the status of people groups in the country? Are they reached, unreached, or Bibleless? Is the missionary willing to find answers to these questions?
Before taking a missionary on, it is wise to have a face-to-face meeting. If you have concerns related to any of the topics above, share them. Be kind and gentle and do not expect perfection. Remember that God holds us all to the same standard. Give the missionary godly suggestions in the areas where he may be lacking and schedule a future interview; give him six or eight months to implement your suggestions. Be willing to qualify and slow to disqualify this precious missionary family! Above all, pray for discernment. God knows who will stay the course!
So, for the past several articles you have read about Islam and its great need of the gospel. With Islam spreading all around the world and continuing to grow, what should our response be to Islam and Muslims. Here are a few things we, as Christians, must do in response to Muslims all around us:
Pray for them—Pray each and every day for them. Pray that God will work in their hearts and lives and save them. Pray that God will send laborers into the Muslim world to reach it with the gospel. Pray that God will open doors not only into the Muslim hearts but into the Muslim world.
Befriend them— In almost any city and place you will find Muslims. Many Christians try to avoid them and don’t talk with them. I would tell you, that is not a Christian response. Rather, we should go out and befriend them! Get to know them and let them get to know you. This will open doors for you that were closed before. This will also allow to them to see what true Christianity is all about.
Love them— This world is filled with hate. Many Christians are prejudiced towards Muslims because what a few of them have done all around the world. That is the wrong response. A Christian should never respond with hate. A Christian should respond with love. Show them love and love them even when they don’t deserve it. Because guess what, God loves you and loved you when you were in your sins. By loving them and showing them love, you will show them the heart and mind of Christ!
Include them— Don’t exclude them from events or activities rather, include them! Invite them to events at your church. Invite them to church services. Include them in things that you are doing and allow them to really get to know you!
Witness to them— After doing all these things you can build a great relationship with them which can open doors to give the gospel to them! Be open to share the Bible with them, study it with them and point them to Christ. You do not have to have crazy strategies to give them the gospel, just point them to Christ and what He did for them. Let the power of the gospel work in their hearts and lives. Give them the gospel! They must know of the love of Christ and their eternal destination without Christ! We must be witnessing to Muslims in a loving non-confrontational way or they will not listen to us!
Christians should have these responses when it comes to Muslims and Islam. We must pray, befriend, love, include and witness to them! We must be doing everything we can to point them to Christ and share with them the love of Christ! Do not hate Muslims and say they deserve hell. Rather, let us show them Christ and how He died for them just as much as He died for us! Let’s respond to Muslims as Christians ought to respond with the love of Christ!
There are many arguments of which fields are the most neglected fields in the world. People would argue about people groups, countries and even cities, but I can tell you, hands down, there is one group that has been neglected for centuries! That is the Muslim world!
You see when Islam began its rise Christians did not know how to respond to it and did not capitalize on an opportunity to take the gospel to them. As it grew through war and expansion, instead of a missionary response, the Christian world responded with force and war. Hoping that taking the fight to the Muslim world would stop its spread. But if instead of war we had sent missionaries, maybe the spread and impact of Islam would have been stopped.
Really it wasn’t until the 1300s that the first known missionary to the Muslims, Raymond Lull, went to them! But guess what! Look throughout the centuries and the years and you will see missionaries going to all sorts of places, but still sitting neglected is the Muslim world. Go, try to find a large list of missionaries to the Muslim world of the past and you will have a short list with people like Lull, Zwemer and Falconer to name a few.
But let us fast forward today. There is much talk about the 10/40 window in churches today, but little has been done to go to the Muslim world! If you go into most churches and put pins on the map of where their missionaries are, you will see a certain place that would maybe have a few pins but not many. That would be the Muslim world. The Middle East and Central Asia have been neglected and are in need of the gospel! I think we need to keep sending missionaries all over the world because the need is great every where! But we have neglected an entire mission field throughout the centuries! The Muslim world has gone unevangelized because we have sat idly by and not sent people to these fields.
People say they are closed, they are dangerous, they are difficult, Those could all be true, but if businesses can get there why can’t the gospel? If we can go to many of these countries on vacations, why can’t we go there as missionaries? It is time for people to take serious the need in the Muslim world! It is time for Christians to step out in faith and take the gospel to a world blinded by Islam! Let’s flood the Muslim world with the Gospel and let it become not the most neglected mission field, but the most reached mission field in the world! Lets take the gospel to the Muslim world!
But Why Consider Taking the Gospel to a Muslim Country?
Why should someone even think about going to a Muslim country? Why should someone leave the US and go to a place that will be difficult? You may not see much fruit and it could be dangerous. Shouldn’t they just stay here in the states and give the gospel here. Isn’t there a great need here in the US for the gospel? I would say yes, there is a need in the US for the gospel, but there is so much light already here! There are thousands of churches in most communities. It is time for those Christians to wake up and do the job that was given to us from Christ. It is time for them to obey the Great Commission. SO why go? Well, here are some reasons people should consider going instead of staying:
We have been commanded to take the gospel to the whole world — The Great Commission was given and we were commanded to take the gospel to a lost and dying world. Many Christians today take it as a suggestion instead of a command. Well, it is a command and we need to be doing it. We need to be going and taking the gospel to those who have never heard.
Islam is growing while Christianity is shrinking— Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. It is a missionary religion and they are willing to go for a false prophet and a false god and take their message all around. Why won’t we as Christians go and take the news of Christ to them? Our Saviour is alive and we owe everything we have to Christ so why stay when we need to be going!
If no one goes they will die and go to hell— Hell is a real place and those who do not trust Christ as their Saviour will die and spend eternity there. The Muslims all around the world have been blinded by Satan and do not know about Christ. Someone must go. Many people must go and take the gospel to them because if not, they will die and go to hell. Not necessarily for rejecting Christ, but because they never knew of what He did for them!
Christ died on the cross, not only for us but for them— Why do people need to go to the Muslims? Because Christ died on the cross for them. Christ and God love them and want them to be saved, but without someone willing to take the message to them they will never know of that love.
But they don’t deserve it!—Guess what! We did not deserve salvation. We deserved hell and yet Christ came and died for us that we might have life eternal! So in all reality, nobody deserves heaven. Everyone deserves hell. But because Christ came and died and rose again the third day for us, then everyone deserves to hear and know no matter who they are or what they have done.
The love of Christ— The love of Christ should constrain us to go! We must look at them through the eyes of Christ not the eyes of an American, the news media or others. We must look at them as souls in need of a Saviour!
There are many more reasons why you should consider going to a Muslim country but these were just a few of the top reasons. What a great need in the Muslim world. Would you consider giving your life to go and take the gospel to them? Will you show them the love of Christ? Will you go to the Muslim world? If you are interested in going to the Muslim world or knowing more about it we would love to hear from you. Feel free to email us or comment below!
What is the greatest piece of writing in all of history? What has confounded the conscious with its truths? What book endures through the scientist’s scoffing, the theologian’s theorizing, and the multitude’s misunderstanding. This book is the Bible. How could knowledge from such a powerful book be wasted?
I believe that the Bible is powerful. It should be studied and learned. But, I also believe that more than it should be learned, it should be used!
“The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: But the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” Proverbs 15:2.
The word useth explains to us that a wise man will not only fill himself with knowledge, but he will pour it out through his actions.
If we are not sharing the truths from God’s word, we are wasting our Bible knowledge. With that in mind, let me give you three ways in which you can learn to use God’s word.
You should be using God’s word to share the Gospel.
‘’And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’’ Mark 16:15
Take your Bible knowledge and use it to reach people with the Gospel! This is the Christian’s primary job. Use the Bible facts you know to start Gospel conversations with the lost around you. If you aren’t doing this regularly, you’re failing at your command to preach the gospel. Your knowledge of the Bible is being wasted.
You should be using God’s word to disciple others.
‘’And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.’’ Matthew 28:18-20
This is your command: Make disciples of all nations! The only way a new believer can learn to follow Christ is if somebody disciples him. I’m not against discipleship material, but the key resources for discipleship is the Word of God. How are you using your Bible knowledge to disciple people? When was the last time you taught someone the truths of the word of God? When was the last time you helped a new believer strengthen his walk with the Lord? If you aren’t doing this regularly, you’re failing at your command to make disciples. Your knowledge of the Bible is being wasted.
You should be using God’s word in World Evangelism.
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47
If you have a tool, it would only make sense to use it when needed. We have the most urgent task set before us, and we have the tool to accomplish it.
Austin Hill, headed to China, could tell you of the Chinese man who thought that Jesus was a what and not a who.
Jeff Brown, headed to India, could relay countless stories of Jesus being worshiped alongside other gods.
In Turkey, the Muslim call to prayer will daily ring out, yet the gospel has hardly made a sound.
Your Bible knowledge could be used in these places! I’d like to encourage you, take your Bible knowledge to the mission field, it will not go to waste there.
The first time I was on deputation, I was going as a church planter to the inner city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. When I look back sometimes it makes me laugh. We would be at a missions conference surrounded by families who were flying across the sea, but the church members would walk up to us and say, “Be careful, I think you’ve got the most dangerous field of any of those folks!” I was always kind, but in my heart, I would chuckle. We had already lived in Pine Bluff for five years. We had knocked on doors in the worst neighborhoods in town. We knew it wasn’t as dangerous as some imagined it to be.
Why were they so concerned for our safety? To put it bluntly, it was because of the population demographic of our city. The neighborhood was over 70% African American, and that scared people. This tended to bring out racial bitterness from the past. I had faithful churchmen tell me, ‘’Better you than me starting a church for those (racial slur).”
On one occasion, I even asked one of the men why he felt so badly towards black people. I received an answer that could have been sapped straight from the sinful lips of satan. The answer was filled with hatred and bitterness. Years ago this man was offended by groups of African Americans. Because of this, he wanted to deprive them of a Bible-believing church in their neighborhood. This would ultimately destroy, degrade, and damn them to a literal Hell simply because of the pigmentation of their skin.
This stance isn’t held solely toward the people of color in our nation. Since I’ve been on deputation headed to Turkey, several people have been angry that my family has a heart to see Muslim people saved. Their reason is the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the martyring of believers around the world. I understand the hurt of 9/11. The sight of those planes crashing into the twin towers is etched into my memory. I also feel the hurt of knowing that my brothers around the world are suffering for the cause of Christ.
Too many churches are okay with the fact that Muslims are dying without ever hearing the true gospel. Why? Because of bitterness that has turned into prejudice. With that in mind, let us consider some verses from scripture to remedy our hurting and hating hearts.
PRAYER IS HINDERED BY BITTERNESS
Mark 11:25 – And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
When I think of those in the American churches who are bitter at minorities and use this bitterness as a justification to not reach them with the Gospel, my mind quickly goes to many of their prayers for Revival in our nation. It’s kind of funny how we are fine with other nations perishing, but we want God’s blessing and renewal on our own. Of course, a quick perusing of the news will reveal that this revival has yet to reach our nation. I wonder if this simple truth is one of the reasons why.
How can we sit in a gospel-saturated nation and beg for renewal when many places haven’t even had the opportunity to become new in the first place. Instead of going to those who have never heard, we ask God to give us a second chance. Sometimes I wonder if our disobedience to Acts 1:8 is the reason for our dying churches in America. Take care of God’s plan and God will take care of your community! America does need a fresh drink of God’s blessings, but before we worry about a refreshment, why don’t we worry for those who are dying of thirst.
We must forgive those who have hurt us. If that includes minorities or illegal aliens, let it be the same. We cannot allow our political views to stop us from obeying our Gospel mandate! We must plant churches in the minority neighborhoods of America. We must send missionaries to the countries we previously feared. We must FORGIVE.
BITTERNESS IS IGNORING OUR SINFUL NATURE AND THE PRICE CHRIST PAID TO SAVE US
Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
This is the first verse I refer to when counseling someone who deals with bitterness! Every time someone says, “I can’t forgive” I quickly read this verse and reply with, “I’m glad you’re not God because we’d all be going to Hell.’’ To the man who doesn’t want the Gospel to go to the Muslim because of terrorism, I want to remind him that his sin is just as strikingly imperfect as the radical extremist. We have to remember that if Christ forgave us, we can forgive others. Christ has forgiven many in America. In turn, we can forgive the world and give them the gospel of Christ!
BITTERNESS IS AN ISSUE OF HATE
Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
A bitter man is a man full of anger, lacking love. Bitterness makes sense from a lost man because he is yet to experience real love. But from a man who has drunk from the cup of perfect love itself, bitterness is not even a choice. If the church can’t forgive, nobody can.
In conclusion, I cry out a plea to the American Christian. Forgive any perceived wrongs that you have received by those of other nationalities and skin pigmentations. This is a plea for you to grab a Bible, some gospel tracts, an offering envelope, a passport, and maybe, most importantly, a prayer closet. Beg God to reach those who may be different from you. Let us rise and find a young man to start a church in a Gospel-famished neighborhood. Let us rise and send our best young men and women to the foreign mission field. Let us forgive and act. Let us see this world turned upside down with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.