Considerations for Mission Work
by Robert Breaker III
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As a Missionary in a Spanish Speaking country for seven years, I've learned a lot about Modern Day "Missions" and how they work. Sadly, I've seen many Missionaries and Mission Boards which have been almost against the work of God in their anti-biblical way of doing things. Instead of following the Bible, they follow tradition. This ought not so to be.
According to the bible, a Missionary is one who travels and preaches and plants churches. If we take the Apostle Paul as our example of a Missionary (which we should), we see that Paul after much prayerful consideration went to a certain area with the Gospel. But he never went to only one place. Paul went to many different areas preaching. He traveled where God told him to go, and he was careful to make sure he preached the Gospel to everyone who came along his path. This is what a Missionary should do.
However, I've seen many Missionaries who think that a Missionary is someone who is only called to one country or one area. Is this correct? According to the Bible, it is not. Many times I've traveled to churches and when I arrived, I've heard the Pastor ask the same question, "Where are you a Missionary to again?" The right answer for any Biblical Missionary would be "To the World!" However, we live in a day and age of mechanicalism and tradition and because of this Pastors are so accustomed to a man saying he's called to only such and such a place, that they think that a Missionary is someone who can only be called to one certain area.
So strong is this misconception, that I've even met Missionaries who worked in one field (or country) for a long time, and then when they left to work in another area, many Pastors dropped their support stating, "You lied to us! You said you were a Missionary to that country, and now you are going somewhere else!"
I knew a man who for years was a Missionary to a Spanish Speaking country. He started many churches. Then he believed that God was calling him to Botswana, Africa. He immediately informed all his churches and then journeyed back to the U.S. to do deputation and present the burden of his heart and God's calling for him to go to Botswana. Many of his supporting churches dropped his support with the attitude of, "He's a quitter. He can't stay in one place. He's not a Missionary where he said he would be, so we can't support him." How sad. The question then needs to be asked, "Where was the Apostle Paul a Missionary to?" The answer is simple: "He wasn't a Missionary to one certain place, he was a Missionary to everywhere he went!" Paul was a Missionary (one sent) to the world! He went to Asia, Greece, Rome, Spain, and possibly even England. Wherever he was he carried the Gospel with him and planted churches. He was a true Missionary, and he was always ready to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, city, and province he which came to.
Paul was more than just a Missionary to a place, he was a Missionary to People! Paul dealt with Jews and Gentiles everywhere he went. Modern day Missionaries should think on these things, for a true Missionary is not called to a certain place, he is a Missionary to the people of that place! Gradually, I learned these great truths on the Mission Field. Because of it, I changed all my correspondence from "Missionary to Honduras" to "Missionary in Honduras." Eventually, I'll end up changing my letterheads to "Missionary to the Spanish Speaking People." And even further along, I probably write "Missionary to the People of the World!"
The other problem with Modern Missions is the constraining force of Modern Day Mission Boards who try to "lord over" a Missionary and tell him where he can go, how long he can stay, and what he must do there. This ought not to be so. Who was the Mission Board that sent Paul? He had none. His head or authority was God and his local church. Paul went where the Holy Spirit told him, and did what he was told to do. His desire was to get people saved. This is the work of a real Missionary.
As Paul traveled, he undoubtedly had some concerns, and some considerations on where he should go with the Gospel. While following the Holy Spirit's command of "unto the uttermost parts of the earth," Paul took the Gospel to most of the known world. I'm sure, however, that he prayed much about specifically where to go, and he had the following things to consider before he entered an area: 1. the Place, 2. The Persons, 3. The Population, and 4. The Problems.
These are four things that a Modern Day Missionary ought to ponder as well before leaving his native land to take the Gospel to others. Let us consider each of them in order.
First, let us consider the place. Where should a Missionary go? According to the Bible, the world is his oyster, and he's got more than enough places to go to reach the lost. America now is a Mission field in itself as it becomes more and more paganized. One need not leave his own country without finding people in need of salvation. But to be a Missionary, most think that he must leave his own country (although I believe one can be a Missionary in his own country) to travel to a foreign land.
Where exactly should the Missionary go with the Gospel? To find out, he should get on his knees and pray. After much prayer, he should make a plan. Then he should plan his work and work his plan in journeying to the area that he believes God would want him. Sometimes where he goes isn't where he ends up working. Adoniram Judson is a prime example. He went to India, but ended up in Burma. Many Missionaries have gone to one specific field only to find that God wanted them elsewhere. I have a friend who desired to go to France to preach the Gospel, but the door shut. He'd already learned French, and was excited about preaching in it. However, he was not granted a visa to enter the country. Yet God in his infinite wisdom and mercy instead opened the door for him to go to Canada to the French Speakers there. And there he is today preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let God choose the place. You just get busy praying and planning, and asking God to lead and direct you. He might let you stay in one area for many years, or he might let you travel to many different countries (like Paul) planting churches. But you must go to the place he's laid on your heart. You must go where he calls.
Secondly, one must consider the persons to which he desires you to reach. If God calls you to the Eskimos, you first need to learn their language. If God calls you to the Amazon, you might not be able to learn the language until you get there. But either way, you should try to learn as much as you can about the people in that area so you'll know how to deal with them. Are they cannibals? Are they hostile towards outsiders? Do they listen to others? Are they open?
Most Muslim countries have laws against proselytizing, and the punishment for doing so is death. Is a Missionary really willing to give up his life if need be for the Gospel of Christ? If he really loves the people and has the call of God on his life, he should be!
Each race, or tribe has it's own idiocenricy, which means that there are different ways to deal with them. One must learn these people, their customs, and their way of thought in order to find out how is the best way to present them with the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, among a certain people in Africa the way for tribes to make peace is to meet on the battlefield with woman and children. The woman then come forward and exchange their sons and daughters with the other tribe. From then on, they can't fight each other, because they will be fighting against their own blood. What a wonderful opportunity to tell them about God in heaven who gave his son to make peace with the world, and all who accept Him will be saved and have peace with God!
Another consideration is that of the population. How many people are there where the Missionary is going? There are some times when God calls a man to a small population to preach and teach. But there are also other times when a Missionary must go to the biggest town in the area in an effort to try to reach more souls. The example that Paul gives us is that whenever he traveled, he almost always went to the cities (where the biggest population was). Most of his journeys took him to port cities which held a huge different population of people. Paul first went to the Jews, and then after to the Greeks or Gentiles.
But Paul was also faithful in preaching in jail (a small population) in courts, and on ships where there weren't that many people. Paul reached the masses and went where they were. A Missionary should do the same.
Finally, let us consider the problems of a country. Many Communist nations forbid the preaching of the Gospel, much less the mentioning of the name of God. This can be a problem in trying to give people the Gospel. However, because the laws of man are against God, that doesn't mean we should let people go to hell. We should consider the problems of a country, and then pray for ways to overcome them.
Many years ago, I heard of a man who was smuggling Bibles into Cuba on his boat. Although it was illegal according to the government of that nation, he felt God's laws were more important, so he brought them in to this country. The penalty if he'd been caught would have been great, but he was willing to take that chance in the hopes that some people would get saved.
Another man decided he'd reach Cuba by flying over it in an airplane and dropping Gospel tracts. This he did, but was shot down and ended up in a Cuban jail for several years. When he finally was set free, he left rejoicing, knowing that he'd done something for the Lord, and that he had the opportunity to get the Gospel out in that country.
There is no problem too great that God can't overcome. However, there are some problems that take much prayer and thinking to resolve. We should try to get people saved, no matter what the problems we face in doing so. But we should remember to be as "wise as a serpent, and as harmless as a dove." Let us not be blatant, pushy, or arrogant in getting out the Gospel in Communist countries and make them actively hostile towards us. Let us instead pray and find ways to get the truth out without causing any more problems that will affect others who might come after us.
For example, I've met a Missionary who desires very much to work in Cuba, but he can't live there according to their laws. Thus, he makes trips and takes them material to read. On his last trip, he took a suitcase full of Bibles. The were immediately confiscated by the Communist Customs Agents. Hurt, angry, and downcast, he felt his trip was wasted, as he'd wanted to get those Bibles into the hands of people.
However, he noticed they didn't take his Sony Walkman or any of his CDs. Thus, he thought to himself, "What if I could burn the Bible to CD and then smuggle it in that way? They would think it was just a music CD, but instead the people would be able to read and print the word of God from it!"
He also he found that some people had DVD players. Thus he came up with the brilliant idea of taping Bible preaching and teaching and burning it to a DVD. Then he would either take them with him or mail them to the people in Cuba to watch, so they could learn about how to grow as a Christian. See how one can use his noggin to find new and inventive ways to get the Gospel out to others?
There are many important considerations for Mission Work. Let us recap. First one must realize that the place to evangelize is the World! God might call someone to one place specifically for the rest of their lives, or he might use them in many different places throughout their ministry. But the thing to consider is "Where does God want me today so I can reach as many people as I can for the Lord Jesus Christ?"
There are many different people in the world, and God wants to save every one of them. Each Missionary should consider how different they are in customs, culture, and beliefs, and then use that knowledge to reach them with the truths of salvation.
Population is a big consideration. City people go to hell just as much as the country people. However, there are usually more people massed together in a city that will listen to the Gospel than in the country. A Missionary can and should reach them both! He should try to get the Gospel out to as many as he can. He should focus on the highly populated areas and bombard them with tracts, Bibles, and preaching tapes. He should also preach on the street and visit door to door in an effort to speak with people first hand. And he can even buy radio or television time to reach even more people with the saving Gospel of Christ.
Finally, each missionary must consider the problems that he'll inevitably encounter wherever he may be. He must think about beforehand how he'll deal with these problems, and how he'll work towards overcoming them. He must spend his time in prayer asking God for solutions and to work on his behalf.
These are just some Considerations for Mission Work that Missionaries should think about before beginning their ministry. They should realize that God is their boss, and they should follow him, rather than let their Mission Board have authority over them. They should prayerfully consider where God would have them to go, for how long, and how to deal with the people there. But most importantly, they should preach the Gospel to the people and show them that Jesus Christ is the only one that can save them and help them no matter what problem they are in.