Who Sends Missionaries?
by Robert Breaker III
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There is a good book out there about Missions. It'll tell you everything you could ever want to know about missions, and then some. It's called the book of Acts, and it's found the in the Holy Bible. Missions, as we know it today, started with Jesus Christ. He was the first missionary with the gospel. He came a long way to a people that didn't accept him. But, he did have a few converts. After he went back to heaven, he left them to carry on the work. That's what missions is all about. One man carrying the message, and then letting those he wins go and do likewise to their own people.
But, the question needs to be asked today, "Who calls missionaries?" Who sends them? We take it for granted that all missionaries are sent by God. But, is this so? There are many today that claim to be missionaries and they aren't even sent from a church. There are even many false churches and cults that send out missionaries, but they are not of God, as they preach a false gospel. And, what about men that go to the mission field that have never been called? Should they be there? Well, let's take a look at four entities in the Bible that call and send Missionaries, and see if we can find the answers to these questions and more.
The First person that calls missionaries and sends them out is God! In Acts 13:2 and 4 we read, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Vs 4 "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." From these verses we see that God was behind the calling and sending of these men to go, and he separated them for that purpose. This shows us that God has specific people that he calls to go to specific areas to preach. But, how do we know who they are today, and where they are to go? The best way is to fast and pray, as Paul and Barnabas did here. And definitely read the scriptures for guidance. Then, when God shows a man his will, and where he wants him to go, that man should do as God commands.
Far too many today have rejected God's call to a mission field. How true that well known verse rings out, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. (Matt. 9:37)." Look at Jonah whom God called to preach to Nineveh. He refused, and was very sorry that he did. Then when he finally decided to go, it wasn't a love for the people that persuaded him, but the fear of being swallowed by a whale again.
So, when God does call, a man needs to make sure he has a burden as well. The burden is not the call, and the call is not the burden. The call comes first and will compel the man to go, and the burden comes next, and will compel the man to stay on the field. Jonah had no burden for the Gentile people and left as soon as he could. And, he ended his ministry in bitterness and anger. This is not how it should be.
The Second entity that sends missionaries is the Local Church. In Acts 13:3, we read, "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." The "they" refers to the church. Yes, the local church is an entity that can send missionaries and help them. Most Bible Believers today are sent out of a local church. But, many are sent out of a "Mission Board" as well. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not against Mission Boards, but to say a mission Board sends you out is a little bazaar and unbiblical. When people ask me where I'm going out of as a missionary I say, "Bible Baptist Church." I'm being sent by my home church, but have a mission board that is helping me. I don't find anything wrong with a mission board. The only board I find in the Bible was to help a missionary. It was the board that Paul floated on when he was shipwrecked. And, I don't see that board telling him what to do or having any authority over him. Quite the contrary, it was there to help him. And, missionaries need all the help they can get! But, their own local church should be their best ally, and hold them up in prayer and fasting just as the church in Jerusalem did for Paul and Barnabas.
The Third entity that sends out missionaries is Man himself. Man can decide when and where he'll go. He has a free will, and ultimately decides his own destiny. In Acts 15:36, Paul makes up his mind that he will go somewhere and do something. But, no where in the verse, or those surrounding it, does it say that God said, "separate unto me Paul and Barnabas..." like he did in Acts chapter 13. Did God call Paul to go to these places, or did he make up his mind to go himself? I'll let you decide that for yourself. But, I will tell you that in Acts 21:10-14, despite warnings from the Holy Ghost, and the brethren, Paul decided he'd go to Jerusalem anyway, even though it was against God's plan.
That shows me that a man can call himself to a mission field and even go, but God's not in it. God may bless it, as Paul saw some saved in Jerusalem and Rome. But, that's God's permissive will, and not his directive will. I've met several missionaries that are going to a field, and they have no testimony of salvation, or of a call to the field. Some have even told me that they don't even have a burden for the people. They are just going because they make more money as a missionary, or they are going to spend time with family in a foreign country. It's sick to think that there are "missionaries" that are going to the field that don't have a call from God in their life. Will they do anything? If you're a pastor reading this, please get the testimony of missionaries that come to your church asking for support. There are too many "mooch-inaries" on deputation today. We need to make sure that our missionary money is going to those that have a call of God on their lives and are willing to work for the Lord!
Finally the last entitiy that calls missionaries is the devil himself. Did you know that the Bible calls him an "angel of light." Look at what else it says in the same passage. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor 11:15)." Did you see that? The devil has ministers that appear to be ministers of righteousness. That means that the devil must have some missionaries as well. Do you realize today that the Mormons have a "missionary" in every country in this world except two? And, the Jehovah Witness' have "missionaries" in every nation on this earth! How sad it is that those who have the truth won't do anything with it, but the cults, and those that have a lie, will go out of their way to try to tell others. The sad truth today is that the devil has more missionaries than the Bible Believers. How could this be? There can be only one reason. We aren't doing our job as Bible believers to follow the book of Acts and go into all the world and preach the gospel! We need to get back to prayer and fasting as Paul and Barnabas and ask God, "Where would you have me to go, and what would you have me to do?" Would to God we would have a care and concern for the lost! That is what missions is all about. Christian, will you pray for and about Missions?