This week we’re talking about missions vs. missionaries. Click HERE to find visit the first post.
Tuesday we explored whether we’re really mission-minded or just saying we are. How might the idea of being a “missionary everyday” and everywhere diminish the power and urgency of overseas missions? Today I want to continue that discussion.
Let the called go.
“Don’t let your kids hear you say ‘I hope you don’t leave me when you’re older.’ My parents struggled with their own families who were aghast that they had the nerve to leave the family and do what God called them to do. If you want your kids to be missionaries, encourage them now. God will give you what you need to let them go – They’re His kids, too.”
— Susie, grew up in South America
A few summer’s back a missionary to the Mormons shared with our church the drastic difference between our evangelistic mindsets. Mainstream protestants encourage their kids to do missions trips in the summer during high school, but after that they better go to college or else. After that we tell them to have lots of babies and stay close to home. We guilt our next generation OUT of missions.
Mormons, according to this gentleman’s experience, don’t give their kids choices. They WILL be missionaries for at least two years. Not doing so is a shame to the family and an ill report of the child’s spirituality. They guilt the next generation INTO missions.
Many predict the Mormon faith will represent the largest religion in the US and second in the world within the next 100 years. Is it any wonder?
[Want to learn more? Read this: 6 Reasons Why Mormons Are Beating Evangelicals in Church Growth.]
I don’t want this post to be about Mormons or any type of comparison between them and us. I want to talk about attitude. How can we encourage those called to go? How can we foster a safe environment where those who might be called feel fostered, developed and ready?
What if YOU’re called?
How do you know if you’re called to go or called to stay? I can’t really answer that question. I only know that you’ll know.
You could find a million books about hearing God’s voice or deciphering His will for your life. I don’t want to pontificate on this extensively. I already did that in this post and, if you want to know how to find God’s will for your life, I recommend you employ the tips listed there. Another recommendation: Just jump.
You’ll never regret taking risks for God. If you have even an inkling that God wants you to do something, it’s better to take steps toward it in obedience than to delay and procrastinate and wonder what might have happened if you had trusted His whisper. We’ve taught our children that delayed obedience is disobedience. The same is true with our Heavenly Father.
Now, not all those whispers we hear are from God and not all of His whispers lead to the end we envision. But you’ll never know if you never take that first step.
What if SOMEONE ELSE is called?
If someone in your church or circles is called to the mission field, how can you encourage them to go? First, it’s not your place to determine another believer’s “calling.” That’s up to the Holy Spirit to define. However, if you see gifts in someone that makes them a great candidate, you can certainly encourage that person! Watch and wait and see what God does. You might also know someone who feels called, but acts nervous or timid about taking those big leaps of faith. You can be an encouragement there, too.
Here are a few easy ways to foster an environment in which the called feel free to follow God’s leading.
- Pray. Pray for them and let them know that you’re praying for them.
- Share uplifting stories. I love reading books and articles about people doing great things for God. Enthusiasm for His work is contagious! Share these stories with one another.
- Inquire about needs and seek to meet them. Sometimes people need a little push in training or financial support. If you believe God has equipped and called this person for missions work, see what they need and how you can help.
- Support missions awareness and education within your church. Let’s face it: growing missionaries requires an entire community of encouragement, training, and support. That requires a holistic effort and a positive attitude toward missions. You could be the spark that ignites or the bridge that connects.
What about my kids?
Parents should be careful not to project their own wishes and regrets upon their children. Yes, I would love to see my kids become lifetime missionaries, but I am not God. He may have a very different plan for them, and I need to allow them to follow wherever He leads … whether that’s across the street or across an ocean.
For specific tips and resources on how to raise mission-minded kids, check out this two-part series.
What do those on the field have to say?
“Get [your children] involved by helping them to become part of their community, knowing your neighbors, and by helping them to see their community members through God’s eyes. Help them to develop hearts like Christ’s.”
— David, aviation technician in Niger
“Teach them to love God. Teach them to look for where God is working most and join Him working there.”
— Sarah, Bible translation in Texas
Talk to me.
What ideas can you share for (1) knowing if you’re called to stay or called to go and (2) encouraging those who are called to follow God fully?