Missionaries, like other servants of God, face the temptation of discouragement. Some things that contribute to discouragement include working among an unresponsive or hostile people group; frequent ministry trips away from spouses and family; trying to solve problems and counsel with people in a language that one is still trying to learn; limited fellowship with others of like mind; and frequent harassment by local government officials.
In the midst of these discouragements, the Christian missionary must remain committed to the wonderful promise rooted in Matthew 16:18: “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Ministering in the strength and power of this promise, the Christian missionary can share the message of the gospel and be pleasing to God. Even after having experienced intense suffering and shameful treatment in Phillipi (Acts 16:12-24), Paul and his coworkers boldly proclaimed God’s Word in Thessalonica (I Thess 2:2). Maybe more impressive is how Paul and his coworkers treated the Thessalonians. They did not allow their former suffering to color their relational dynamics in Thessalonica.
In his missionary efforts, Paul exhibited gracious Christianity. Instead of being harsh and demanding, he was gentle and tolerant. Instead of giving strong and demanding commands, he exhibited a fond affection. In addition to imparting truth, he was willing to impart his very own life as well. Instead of living selfishly, he behaved blamelessly, like a father with his family.
Instead of becoming discouraged, missionaries should accept the challenge to share God’s Word by living out its principles. A compassionate and loving lifestyle attracts nonbelievers and impacts their hearts and souls to the glory of God.