It’s easy to think that most missionaries are naturally extroverted adventurers.
But a missionary’s call isn’t based on personality. He sends those whom he has chosen, like Aaron: “He sent Moses his servant, And Aaron, whom he had chosen” (Psalm 105:26).
We might speculate that Moses and Aaron would have rather done a thousand other things other than serve God by wandering through the desert with a stubborn people. But they faithfully responded to God’s call because they were chosen.
Likewise, faithful missionaries go to the unreached and unevangelized not because they romanticize travel and global culture but because of genuine calling. God chooses to give even home-bodied missionaries strength because he chooses to send them. This was true for Gideon: “The LORD looked at him and said, ‘Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?’” (Judges 6:14)
While modern callings to missions don’t come via an audible voice from the Lord, God still stirs the heart through Scripture, prayer, counsel, and the needs in the world. Consider these five facts that compel even homebodies to embark on mission.
1. Missions Opportunities Vastly Outnumber Ministry Opportunities at Home
The reason many seminary students express disinterest in missions work is due to the desire to start a family. Missions is a hard life, many think. I’m still paying off college debt—how am I going to move across the world to live in poverty?
Here’s the truth: most Bible college and seminary students are competing for a narrow segment of the pastoral and academic job market that is already oversaturated with applicants. Christianity Today recently surveyed the National Congregation Study to report that there are over 380,000 pastors in the United States, compared with 2 million globally. Conversely, approximately 85 percent of the world’s 2.2 million evangelical churches are led by pastors with little or no theological education.
It’s not uncommon for seminary students to wind up working as coffee baristas for several years after graduating—not even using their gifts or expensive education. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there is no reason for ministry-minded young adults to grovel over the same small band of the North American church job market while a world of opportunities in church planting, theological education, and other full-time ministry roles are awaiting just outside the comforts of home.
2. More Than 7,000 People Groups Have Never Heard of Jesus
The Apostle Paul articulates the motivating logic of the unreached people group concept quite succinctly: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14)
Imagine an entire community of people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Imagine the lostness of that community. Imagine how paganism has ravaged their hearts, societies, and relationships. Now, imagine bringing Christ to that community for the very first time. Where Christ goes, tyranny subsides. Where Christ goes, retributive violence wanes. Where Christ goes, peace prospers. Where Christ goes, souls are rescued from Hell.
Now, imagine that taking place 7,000 times over. That’s what the church could do as members of the body of Christ faithfully invest their lives and talents in the Great Commission. This is too glorious an aim not to pursue.
3. Other Religious Groups Often Surpass Evangelical Missionary Efforts
While we comfortable evangelicals often find it difficult to motivate ourselves to serve globally, consider, by contrast, the fact that there are more than 70,000 active Mormon missionaries, or that the world’s Muslims are rapidly out-populating fruitless Christians in the West.
These religious systems—which both teach a different Christ as a false gospel if any gospel at all—expend enormous energy to win converts. How much more should we who have the true Jesus—God in the flesh, crucified and raised for our justification, made ours by faith, not works—be motivated to proclaim his saving gospel.
4. The Church Has 3,000 Times the Financial Resources Needed to Reach Every Nation for Christ
There is a myth that there isn’t enough money for the worldwide church to evangelize every people group. This simply isn’t true. Statisticians estimate that the global church has roughly 3,000 times the financial resources needed to finish the Great Commission.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you” (2 Cor. 11:18). His point was not that new, budding church plants “owe” the missionary sending church a debt; it was that a disproportionately small amount of sending churches often bear too much of the financial load of ministry.
Those frightened by missions are often intimidated by the prospect of raising support. But local churches are full of generous givers and resources ready to be shared to advance the gospel. Support is out there. More than enough support exists for God’s mission to be fulfilled today.
5. The Great Commission Is Still Binding on the Church
The Great Commission remains relevant for us. It was not rendered null by the geographical dispersion of believers in the 1st century nor by the globalism of the 20th century. The Great Commission is ours because we belong to the church:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
God derives particular pleasure by sending missionaries who are reluctant to go. God does not “need” missionaries. Most human beings prefer to live in their comfort zones. But by rousing the hearts of the slothful and unlikely, God brings more glory to himself.
Have you or someone you know considered the call to go? Armed with these five fact, pray that he would open your heart to long-term missions work.
ABWE exists to fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.