27 Jan Interested in Missions?
Ryan Murphy, Teacher, Rift Valley Academy, Kenya
and Member, Teachers In Service, Inc.
From time to time, I’ll get emails from former students or youth group members—some of whom are now graduated from college…man, I’m getting old—mentioning that they are “interested” in missions. I tell them that’s great, but I can’t get much further into the conversation without mentioning that “interest” in missions won’t even get you off the couch, let alone out your front door.
I have two simple pieces of advice for those who are at the starting point of “interest” in missions.
One. Tell people. Tell your best friend. Tell your uncle. Tell your church’s mission pastor. Tell the guy who slices your deli cheese. Tell the lady who cuts your hair. Why? Well, if you’re really truly sincerely interested, then you won’t mind other people knowing. If your interest is ever going to lead somewhere realistically, then it’s good for the key people in your life to know ASAP.
But…if you’re fearing the sacrifice or knowing that it’s not probable for you or if you’re puffing yourself up as spiritual, you won’t tell people. Because you really aren’t interested.
The other benefit to telling people is that they will keep you accountable. They will encourage you down the road and help you take steps to reach your goal. Or perhaps they’ll help you to see why you shouldn’t actually go? In spring of 2004, our missions pastor had 8 of us stand in front of the congregation, all of us claiming to be “interested” in missions. From there, conversations happened for many of us which led us closer or farther away from missions. Even though a few of those 8 people haven’t gone out (yet), they still are being helped and challenged toward the serious calling of career missions. “Interest” isn’t enough. You need to tell people.
I’ll try to be a little more positive with #2. There are huge rewards with missions. Sadly, the first thing that pops into the head when the word “missions” is uttered is sacrifice and struggle and loss. Those are certainly a part of the calling to missions, but the rewards dwarf the hardships. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all.” Our focus as believers in general and as missionaries in particular must be on the eternal glory, the rewards in store for us.
Sure, you probably will see tangible fruit in your missions endeavor. Perhaps a Bible will be translated, a village will be converted, a deathbed patient saved, a child’s life changed. Most likely there will be awesome rewards along the way for the missionary, but there’s also a slight possibility that when you hold up the joys of the missionary life with the sacrifices—family, friends, comfort, cultural familiarity—you may not even feel that they’re worth it. But you’ll need to remember, these will not be the greatest reward.
The verses that I need to come back to over and over are Jesus’ words in Mark 9:29-31. “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”
The leaving is necessary but so is an expectation of reward.