My son and I often read Bible stories together, and occasionally he
asks my wife or me, “Does God still do that?” Often the familiar events
of the New Testament have become simply stories to our modern ears because
we have not seen Christ’s miraculous hand at work in our homes and in our
churches. Our eyes have been blinded by familiarity, and that leads us to ask
within ourselves if God is still calling out disciples. Do you think God has
stopped calling missionaries just when the opportunity is the greatest? It is not
God the Father—He obviously has provided many places for ministry around
the globe. It is not God the Son—the great commission is still the same. It is
not God the Holy Spirit—His power is still available to us. If we do not lack
the place, the plan, or the power, what do we lack? We lack the personnel; we
lack the people.
Why are the missionary numbers dwindling? Why aren’t the people of our
churches responding to the Macedonian call today? Six reasons stand out to
1. Fear- Some people are just plain scared. They are scared of the unknown and of
failure. Some are scared they cannot share their faith properly, while others are fearful
of being called to serve alone. Fear can be crippling to the work of God. It is the very
reason many never step out of the boat to walk in obedience with the Father.
2. Selfish Apathy- Sometimes our own personal needs seem so insurmountable that
we cannot see past them to help those around us. Although fully God, Jesus was also
completely man. He felt needs in his mortal body, but the Scriptures record over and
over of how He set those physical and emotional needs aside to meet the spiritual needs
of others. We believe in Hell, but how many of us live our lives as though Hell is real?
3. Lack of Commitment- Can we really expect more from our children than we are
willing to give ourselves? Half-hearted commitment and inconsistent faith is producing
a very weak second-generation of believers. As parents, it is up to us to show our kids
that God is the most important One in our lives. Obedience to our Heavenly Father
must be mirrored before them and expected from them.
4. Materialism- Many people will not heed the missionary call because they simply do not
want to give up the good life here in America. Christ said the love of money is the root
of all evil, and the American church is reaping the “fruit” of materialism. It seems that
the only thing important to our young people today is what they can own, but to be fair,
it is not just our young people. What about us? Would you be supportive if your son
or daughter told you mission work was God’s will for his/her life? Would you quietly
discourage their enthusiasm and lead them towards something more lucrative?
5. Family- Materialism is not the only reason parents do not want their kids to be
missionaries. Keeping family close at hand is often more important than obeying God’s
call to a foreign field. Jesus said we must be willing to leave our families to follow Him.
While family is a gift from God, they are not equal in importance.
6. Feelings of Inadequacy- To be quite frank, many of us simply do not feel qualified
to be a missionary. While there is no room for pride in the work of the Lord, we must
remember that Christ does the qualifying. Hebrews 10:14 says that through Christ’s
sacrifice, we are “perfected”. Although we still live in a body of flesh, believers can
rejoice that our inward man has been renewed! Remember, if God calls you, He will
equip you to do the job.
There are probably many other reasons why people don’t heed the call to
missions, but in essence they are only excuses. We know that God does not
expect everyone to be a missionary in a foreign land nor does He call everyone
to leave their job and prepare for the ministry; however, He does expect us to
be willing to go. As Dean of Students at Gateway Christian College, I am thrilled any time I hear,
“I’m willing to help any way you can use me. What needs to be done?” How
much more does our Heavenly Father long to hear words of willing surrender
from His children? As Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.”
Remember, mission involvement is not an option for a born-again believer,
it is a command. Reaching an unreached world is the marching order for the
church of Jesus Christ.