The Bible is clear on the point that every disciple of Christ is to be a witness to Him. In that sense, every believer is a missionary. Not all missionaries are called to serve on foreign fields, however. Some are to serve in their “Jerusalem, and . . . Judea’ (Acts 1:8). Others are to venture into “Samaria,” and still others are to go to the “uttermost part of the earth.”
Who are those who are to leave Jerusalem for the uttermost parts? How are they to reach that decision? Like David’s question about going or staying (II Sam. 2:1), the question should be a matter of prayer. To pray about such a thing is to be open and available to God and to be willing to do whatever He says. to ask Him about going or staying is to also be content with whatever answer He gives. Blessed is the one who is truly available to the Lord and who leaves the decision with Him. Another part of the decision to go elsewhere to serve the Lord is the matter of direction. When the green light has been given to become a missionary, a location must be discerned. The Apostle Paul, as you will recall, wanted to preach in the province of Asia but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit. He also wanted to preach in the province of Bithynia, but he again was not permitted by the Spirit of God (Acts 16:6-7).
God’s servants must be open to Him as to where they serve, knowing that the Lord makes preparation in advance. As David prayed about going to any of the cities of Judah and was told which one to travel to, so it behooves those called to serve elsewhere to let God pick the destination.
Another aspect of missions is recognizing what missions is all about. Sometimes it is thought of as being used to bring souls to Jesus Christ. In other words, some think of missions as being solely evangelism. A careful reading of the Great Commission, however, reveals that the Lord wants more than simply converts. He wants disciples.
A disciple is a learner and a follower of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a person who has been saved but who is not content to only have salvation. He wants to get to know the Lord better and to become like His Saviour. That takes teaching.
As the tribes of Israel reminded David, the Lord wanted him to feed the people of Israel. The missionary’s task is not complete when someone is converted. In some respects, the task of making a disciple has just begun. Now comes the process of teaching the new babe in Christ the Word of God.
As babies need nourishment in order to grow and mature, so it is with new Christians. They need to be fed the Word of God. In some places it is said of Christianity that it is a mile wide but only an inch deep. In other words, although many people have made decisions for Christ, their understanding of what God wants from them is shallow indeed.
While visiting a foreign field several years ago, my observation of a lack of depth in scriptural knowledge among the church leaders led me to comment on the matter to a missionary. His response revealed he too felt burdened about the lack of suitable curriculum and of those who could be teachers. May this need become a matter of prayer for those of us at home who have so much spiritual food to feast on.