10 things missionaries should know
Determining your calling.
It is difficult to determine the call of God. The difficulty involves determining what God wants for your life vs. what you want. Don’t think if God allowed you to learn Spanish, then He surely wants you to go to some Spanish speaking country. This is not always the case. God may not want you to go some place that you think is best. He may want you go to somewhere that you have never been before. He may want you to go to someplace that you know absolutely nothing about; someplace you may have never even considered.
It is wrong to think if you always wanted to go to a particular country, so that must be where God is calling you to go. God may not give you the desire of your heart. You should always seek the desire of God’s heart instead of your own.
The missionary should be like a soldier who enlists in the army. He must be ready to go anywhere in the world he is told. He should be ready to go anywhere and do anything God needs him to do.
When in Bible College, the missions teacher gave us an exercise to make a display depicting where we would go if God called us to be a missionary. I was in a dilemma about where in the world I WOULD LIKE to go. The world is a big place and this exercise opened up doors that I had never considered. I thought of going to Australia because I went there when I was in the navy and liked it. I thought of Alaska because I always wanted to go there and never got the chance. I thought of Panama because I knew the language and liked living there when I was a child. I chose to go to the Cuna Indians off the San Blas Islands of Panama. The Cuna people lived off the coast of Panama on the Caribbean side. If I went to them, I would live in a tropical wonderland–fishing and swimming every day. Even though I chose this for my project, I knew that God wanted more from me. He wanted complete obedience and availability. He didn’t want my obedience only if I got to go where I wanted to go. He wanted me to go where He chose. I was convicted by this thought. I did the project because it was required, but I got alone with God and told Him that I would go anywhere He wanted me to go. Therefore, I have never considered myself to be a missionary to any particular country per se’, but to the will of God. I have allowed myself the title of missionary to one certain country, but only in the sense that this is where God assigned me for that time. If God moved me to another country, I am no less of a missionary, I just got my orders changed by Him. And this is the difficulty: How to know if it is Him giving the orders and not yourself?
When God called me into missions work He called me to a particular country. I did not discuss it with anyone. At the altar that night, I told Him, “Lord, I feel like you want me to go to this country, but I don’t want to act upon my feelings. I can’t discern between what you want me to do and what self may want. I’m not looking for a sign, but if you want me to do this, would you please confirm it to me through my wife and pastor?” At the end of the service, my wife came up from the nursery downstairs where she had been working. I looked at her and said, “Guess what happened to me tonight.” “We’re going to China”, was her cautious reply. God had confirmed it through my wife because she had no way of knowing what happened to me other than the Lord putting it on her heart.
Two days later, we went to see our pastor. He leaned back in his chair shaking his head, tapping his finger tips together and said, “Ron, Dee, I think so too!” Dee and I had told nobody. There is no way he could have known, other than God working in his heart. God had confirmed it to me. I knew it was not because of self that I was going to China. I knew the difference between a calling of the Lord and a desire of self.
I am not saying that missionaries should do what I did. I am saying that they need to work out their calling so they are sure there isn’t any element of self involved. If there is the tiniest doubt, there can be big trouble down the road because that is the area where the Devil will drive in his wedge.
You say, “What do I do if I am unsure?” You should do nothing. Make no moves to the left nor to the right. Just stand still and wait for the Lord. Make sure you know the difference between a calling and a desire of self.