The whole concept of missionaries got me thinking about how missionaries begin their journey. Do theses individuals have an experience like Paul in the dessert where a blinding light shines on them with a deep voice instructing their next move? Are they selfless people who never considered another career? Were they raised by saints brought up to work for God. The idea got me thinking. Where do missionaries come from?
First, to address the question one must consider the definition of missionary.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Learning Dictionary
A missionary is a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work (such as to convince people to join a religion or to help people who are sick, poor, etc.)
What This Means for Us
If we go by this definition we make a few assumptions.
To be a missionary one must be sent to a foreign country.
To be a missionary one must do religious work.
To be a missionary one must be there to help the sick or poor.
To be a missionary one must be convincing people to join a religion.
Looking at this definition and the assumptions I cannot help but see where they derive from. Still, I would like to examen these assumptions and provide a different perspective. When referring to Christian missionaries, a person might assume the missionary is sent by a few sources either an organization, God or self. I believe it is important to look to the Bible for another perspective.
There was a man in Lystra who couldn’t walk. He sat there, crippled since the day of his birth. He heard Paul talking, and Paul, looking him in the eye, saw that he was ripe for God’s work, ready to believe. So he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Up on your feet!” The man was up in a flash—jumped up and walked around as if he’d been walking all his life. (Acts 14:8-10 MSG)
Ready to Believe
So, with this scripture we see Paul recognizing the qualifications for a missionary. The man was, “ready to believe.” With this in mind, I would challenge the definition of a missionary.
Missionary Qualifications – According to the Bible:
Ready to believe – Accept Jesus gift of salvation.
Willing – Willing to do God’s work.
If we take this definition seriously, this would mean all believers or Christians are capable of being a missionary. No where in the Bible does it say one must travel to foreign lands or convince someone to become a Christian. It only requires believers to be ready and willing.
So my challenge to all believers is to examen their lives and see where God has called you to be a missionary. What is your mission field? Your office, neighborhood, or city? No need to quit your job, just be willing to do God’s work? No idea what God’s work entails? In the upcoming posts, we will take a look at what God’s work consists of and how it applies to your life.