In preparation for our call to Missions in Chavuma, Zambia, we have started reading the book by Thomas Hale, “On Being A Missionary”. If you are thinking of going into missions or if you are supporting someone in missions, this is an excellent book to read!
I would like to share my journey through the book with you in the hope that it could be an encouragement to you and that others may grow spiritually as I have during the reading of the book.
The author and his wife have served as medical missionaries in Nepal since 1970. It is evident in the book that they both have years of personal experience in missions and dealing with other missionaries who are facing different struggles and problems in the field.
God’s Plans are Higher
Many of you will know that Michael and I were missionaries before this current season of our lives. Both of our parents were or still are missionaries so we are blessed with a rich heritage of missionary life and upbringing. But that season had come to an end (or so we thought)…
During our previous stint in missions, God opened the door for Michael to go study theology at George Whitefield College in Muizenberg, Cape Town. During his time at GWC he became convinced we won’t be returning to foreign missions but rather that our focus will be on local church ministry. He felt that we as Christians have a lot of ministry work to keep us busy in our own country.
Our Economy is not God’s Economy
It is evident that most countries now have enough native Christians to do the work of an evangelist and plant churches. We could argue that in human terms it doesn’t make any economic sense. Why send someone, at great expense to themselves and their family, many kilometres from their home country to share the gospel in a foreign country, where they can’t speak the language or understand the culture? Especially when there are local Christians in that country who can do that at a much smaller cost.
I struggled with this idea personally because I was convinced that as a couple God had given us a special gifting and upbringing that equipped us in a unique way to be able to do cross-cultural missions effectively and to bring the Gospel to people of other nations. It seemed that God had invested so much into our lives preparing us to take on many challenges in missions and we were good at it. It was disappointing but had to make peace with my husband’s decision because we were in this together.
Fortunately, God had a different plan for us and gave us a calling to Zambia so clear that not even Michael could turn away from it. Over time we have learnt that our economy is not God’s economy.
In the first chapter of the book, Thomas Hale discusses the question, “Should we still be sending missionaries?”. He realizes that it is essential that we understand what missions is. God has given all of us the Great Commission which instructs us to go out and make disciples so whether we like it or not, it’s the responsibility of every Christian to tell others of the love of Christ.
This makes every Christian a missionary in the broad sense of the word. But for the purpose of the discussion, we will limit the use of the word to its more conventional and narrow use of “cross-cultural witness” as Hale does in the book.
Not everyone experiences a call to go across the borders to a different culture and live among a different people to share Christ’s love, but everyone should be concerned about this being done. Hale says that if we look at what Christians are doing about this, we will realize that for every $100 raised in Western churches, ninety-nine are spent on Christians and only about 1% is spent for non-Christians.
The take-away point for me in this chapter was that it is not “we” who send missionaries but God. It is the responsibility of all Christians to be involved in missions in one way or another. Either by going, or by supporting in prayer and finances.
The first chapter is very rich and dense in truths so I would encourage you to get a hold of the book and read with me.