Who Should Go?
Here is a question which faces each devoted young Christian willing and eager to do the Lord’s will and obey His commands. It is a question that merits also the consideration of every local church desirous of seeing the great parting commission of the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled through them in accordance with the principles enunciated in the New Testament. For almost a century and a half, men and women sent by God have ventured forth into ‘the regions beyond’ in entire dependence on our immutable Lord and His infallible Word to be Christ’s witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth. Their character and experience—sometimes prominent themes of missionary biography — have provided ample evidence that what has been appropriately termed ‘a modern experiment in apostolic missions’ is as practicable today as it was in the days of the apostles.
It cannot be denied, however, that scientific advance has brought within the missionary’s reach many amenities and facilities, particularly in the spheres of travel and equipment, that were unknown in the days of the early Christian Church. The ‘Jet’ plane, for instance, now available for travel everywhere, takes the servant of Christ to his chosen sphere of service anywhere on earth in an incredibly short time with the maximum amount of comfort. Not so many years ago, missionaries guided by the Spirit of God to serve in lands overseas had to sail the ‘Seven Seas’ to reach the lands of their adoption. Spiritually now, as always, the missionary that God can use must be a “C-farer,” for there are ‘Seven Cs’ in the spiritual realm on which they must progress to fields of useful service. These are mapped out in the chart of Scripture to give guidance to the prospective missionary, but also to the assemblies of the saints. What are they?
1. Those should go who have been converted by the grace of God. A vital experience of life in Christ is the primary essential — an experience without which it is not only futile but even presumptuous to endeavour to serve the Lord Christ. The Thessalonian saints to whom Paul wrote two letters had turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and from them the Word of God was heralded over the areas in the vicinity of Thessalonica. The word ‘turned’ is the same in the original as ‘were converted.’
2. They must also be called by the Spirit of God, that Spirit that opens the mind to listen to His still small voice and the eyes of the heart to see the fields white unto harvest, especially in that part to which He is leading, with its peoples and their needs. That same Holy Spirit will then, as in Antioch, instruct the local church leaders whose ears are attentive to hear His whisper to set the missionaries apart for the work to which He has called them (Acts 13:2).
3. Another prerequisite to service abroad is consecration to the Service of God. This involves a whole-hearted response to the challenging exhortation of God’s servant, Paul, in Romans 12:1, 2: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” “Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead”: “yield your members servants to righteousness and holiness”: these are other variants of the same injunction (Rom. 6:13, 19).
4. The aspirant to service for the Master Who has loved so much, suffered so much and accomplished so much for him, must also be constrained by the Love of Christ. In view of the judgment seat of Christ the Apostle Paul, ambitious to be well-pleasing to the Lord, outlines some of the factors urging him to service; and the first he mentions is ‘the terror of the Lord.’ On the other hand, there was just as powerful an urge in ‘the love of Christ’ (2 Cor. 5:9-15), that compelled him to live, not to himself but ‘unto Him Who died’ for him and rose again. The same powerful presentation of the gospel that he preached to others motivated the Apostle-evangelist in his own life and service.
5. It would scarcely seem necessary to insist that one eager to obey the Lord’s commission to go and “make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” should be Conversant with the Word of God. Obedience to the Word presupposes acquaintance with what the Word teaches as well as intensive knowledge of the Word. These are essential for one who is to be “apt to teach.” In plain language, those who aspire to go on missionary service should be keen Bible students, preparing themselves by diligent reading and study of the Scripture of truth for a life-long vocation in which the impartation of the truth of Scripture is predominant.
6. They who go should also be commended by a Church of God, as were Barnabas and Saul when they went from Antioch. They were the greatest gifts in the Antioch assembly, and consequently their departure meant a considerable sacrifice to the church which set them apart for that special outreach. This was done in three ways: by prayer, commending them to the protection and power of God, by the imposition of hands, identifying themselves with them in their service, and by commending them to the grace of God for the Lord’s work. It is generally recognized that such commendation is not only necessary but valuable in maintaining the bond of fellowship, both in prayer and financial support.
7. Of great importance, too, is the outgoing worker’s progress mentally, morally and spiritually. Those who go should be found capable in the School of God.
Physical fitness for severe climatic conditions, for exhausting demands on mind and body, and for strenuous spiritual duties is highly desirable, but a physical handicap need not be a deterrent where there is the will to yield all to the Lord in service. A conspicuous modern example of the truth of this is found in the devoted competence despite great disabilities of the author of ‘Take my hands.’ But for the acquisition of a foreign language, for the faculty of understanding, though not necessarily favouring, the viewpoint of the inhabitants of the land of their adoption, and, above all, for the lucid presentation of their message, those who go forth should possess more than normal mental capability. Moral fibre and ability to work harmoniously with others are qualities that can be acquired only in the school of God. With spiritual strength manifest in the life that displays the beauties and virtues of Christ, added to physical, mental and moral capabilities, the outgoing missionary becomes a mature man of God, fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17 ) .
God is continually asking, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Am I ready to respond, “Send me!”? And am I fit to go? Have I sailed the seven Cs?