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Resolution #10 – Me, A Missionary?

Finally, almost a quarter of the way through 2024, we come to the 10th and last cross-cultural mission related New Year’s resolution that Chuck Lawless gave us. Lawless’ tenth challenge to each of us is: “I will honestly consider and answer the question, ‘Is God calling me to be a full-time missionary?’ Every believer must ask and answer this question. Be open to God’s calling, and listen well through His Word, His Spirit and His people. And while you’re praying this way, pray for your children and grandchildren to do the same.”

A number of years ago I was a speaker in a large church in Oxford together with a respected colleague, Howard Peskett. Howard worked with OMF for a number of years. He made a simple statement, which was that every Christian believer needs God’s direct guidance for their job or profession, and indeed the location of that work, just as much as a missionary does in her or his calling to the mission field. To think that only a missionary needs to be called by God, but anybody else, with or without prayer, can engage in any secular job, was nonsense in Howard’s thinking – and in mine. So if we do pray seriously concerning where and what God wants us to do, the missionary option has to be included in our prayers – for each of us.

I have related various of these 10 resolutions to the apostle Paul, and this one is no exception. The difference surely with the apostle Paul and you and me is that his first statement in his encounter with Jesus defined his approach to his future. “Who are your Lord?” That is an extraordinary statement. Paul without knowing yet who Jesus was, automatically approached Him as ‘Lord’. Jesus replied, according to Luke’s record in Acts chapter 9, with two brief statements. 

The first was: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The key issue is defined, Jesus is Lord, as well as Saviour. He now would call the shots, not just forgive sins.

Then Paul, seeing Jesus as Lord, “trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’” The reply was immediate. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” Three days later, after Paul had spent those days blind and without food or drink, the Lord kept His word very clearly. The understandably hesitant Ananias was enlisted to bring Paul the answer: “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). No discussion, no negotiation, no salary package were included in the conversation. Indeed, the salary was suffering – and also many visitations and answered prayers from the Lord Jesus. It was absurd. Paul had been a Jew who daily thanked God that he was not a Gentile. Now Jesus called him for the rest of his life to be the apostle to those same Gentiles, to reach them with the love of Jesus. All so sudden and so clearly in the will of God.

As a lifetime missionary I wish I could say it was that easy for me – or probably for you. My call to serve in cross-cultural mission came second. First was the requirement from the Lord Jesus that He needed to be Lord of my life, not just my Saviour. That was a severe battle. Fortunately, He won. There followed after that a hospital experience which concluded with a nurse asking me if I had ever thought of being a missionary to China. I had not, nor had I any concern or personal experience of the Chinese in the early 1960s in the UK. But coming on the back of that first step of surrender to Jesus as Lord, now I had finally got to the place that Paul reached in the first ten minutes of his Christian experience, I knew that was a word from the Lord and not from man. 

So when Lawless asks us honestly to consider the question, ‘Is God calling me to be a full-time missionary?’, that is always the second question which we need to face. The first is whether we have ever asked Him to be Lord and indeed given Him the right to ask that question.

I wrote last week about J. Oswald Smith. He will have the last word: “I want Thy plan, O God, for my life. May I be happy and contented whether in the homeland or on the foreign field; whether married or alone, in happiness or sorrow, health or sickness, prosperity or adversity – I want Thy plan, O God, for my life. I want it; oh, I want it.”

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