The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. -Matthew 9:37–38
Missions is not a novel thing. It’s not some new career path no one has ever done you have to figure out alone. Many, many missionaries have been sent into the field so we know a bit about how to prepare and support missionaries.
In his Sunday afternoon breakout session, “So you are Thinking About Doing Missions,” Jack* from Global Serve International explored the traits of goers and senders, how people considering going can prepare, and what the chain of sending a missionary looks like.
Jack highlighted several traits of a goer, starting with a goer’s spiritual maturity. A personal relationship with Jesus is the foundation for everything else. Goers are also focused on the end goal and have an eternal perspective. They see the spiritual need of those without Christ and want to obey the command to reach the ends of the world with the good news that makes peace between sinners and a holy God.
One summer as a counselor out at Camp Witness I heard Tim Carmichael, a representative for Ethnos 360, speak on the importance of missions to unreached people groups. After hearing his story about coordinating missions supply chains in Papua New Guinea, I asked him what we should do now to prepare, in case we became missionaries.
I don’t know exactly what I expected- maybe he’d tell me to start learning a foreign language or something- but he didn’t say that. Instead, he pointed back to Matthew 9:37 and said the number one thing we should be doing today was praying that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers to the harvest. The first step is not acquiring some obscure life skill, it’s a mindset and a prayer. Goers understand the end goal and seek to fulfill the great commission.
Goers practice missional living now. If missions is close to your heart, don’t only focus on your personal maturity. Be involved in the local church. Reach out to those around you. Teach in small groups and children’s ministries, disciple others and be discipled formally or informally, learn and seek to understand the Bible. This is not the Matrix. If you become a missionary, the wisdom of years of small group teaching and engaging others in spiritual conversations will not just download into your brain.
Goers are confirmed by the local church. Jack pointed out that in scripture every time a missionary goes out, they are sent by a local church. Goers don’t just drop everything and drive themselves down to the amazon to try to witness to the locals. They are sent and supported by a church. The church confirms the goer’s readiness and commitment and then actively sends them and participates in the goer’s ministry.
Jack illustrated by placing an individual representing the church on one side of the room and someone representing the unreached people group on the opposite side of the room. Through adding other people to the line started by the local church the missionary (represented by yours truly) slowly stepped all the way across the room to the unreached people group. Each person in the line represented godly parents, prayer support, financial support, emotional support, language and culture training and other types of support. Without people pushing them forward, the missionary could never reach the unreached. As church members, we are part of that chain.
So today, be in prayer, be part of the chain reaching out to the missionaries who have been sent and participate in their ministry, practice missional living and keep an eternal focus clear in your mind.
*We have withheld Jack’s real name since he often serves in sensitive countries.