Don’t Complicate the “Missionary Call”

tangled-thread

This article was written by David Sitton, founder and president of To Every Tribe Ministries. David is a career church planting missionary who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for 16 years, making first gospel contact with several headhunting, cannibalistic tribes.

This has been re-posted at Desiring God.

 

I chuckle when I hear missionaries say they “surrendered to the call” of ministry. I always want to ask, “After you surrendered, were you waterboarded, or just hauled off in handcuffs and leg irons?” Was it really necessary for you to be abducted by a heavenly vision before you would go joyfully into the work of the gospel in unreached places? [CLICK TO TWEET]

The missionary call is not like a prison dog that tracks us down, sniffs us out, and hog-ties us for the nations. That kind of talk bugs me! It’s bad theology. Nowhere in Scripture is a “mysterious (supernatural) call” a prerequisite before we can respond to the Great Commission. The opposite is actually true.

Don’t Wait for a Call

No aspect of mission is more bogged down with extra-biblical baggage than the “Missionary Call.” The clear command of Christ “to go” should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way to unreached regions. [CLICK TO TWEET] You can’t go wrong by trying to go. Be aggressive to go. The Lord will direct your moving feet.

Do you know how 99% of the cross-cultural workers for the gospel in the book of Acts got to the unreached places? In a detailed missiological study of the book of Acts, Bob Sjogren breaks it down for us.

  • 99% of the missionaries in Acts went cross-cultural because of one reason: Persecution What about the other 1%?
  • 74% served cross-culturally because the Apostle Paul challenged them to go.
  • 18% went because their local churches sent them.
  • 7% went simply because of their zeal and desire to do it![end 1. Run With The Vision, Bill and Amy Stearns, Bethany House Publishers, pages 125-126.] 

Dramatic calls to ministry are the exception. If you have it in your heart to go, then go. And lean on the sovereignty of God to get you where He wants you in the harvest.

Try to Go

Paul tried to go into Asia, but the Lord wouldn’t let him. He then tried to go to Bithynia, but “the Holy Spirit forbade him.” Still, he kept trying to go. I count at least six cities in Acts 16:1-6 where Paul tried to take the gospel. It was only then that the Lord gave him a vision of the Macedonian. He woke up the next morning and immediately headed for the regions north. The point? Get radical with the going and God will get radical in the specific guiding. [CLICK TO TWEET]

I was never called to be a missionary. I wasn’t drafted. I volunteered. No special call was needed. I chose to go. I want to go. [CLICK TO TWEET] I am compelled to go. Where I go is determined by an open Bible (Romans 15:20-21) and a stretched-out map of unreached regions where Jesus isn’t known. Going for Jesus and with Jesus to the ends of the earth is the privilege of a lifetime.

 

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This article was written by David Sitton, founder and president of To Every Tribe Ministries. David is a career church planting missionary who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for 16 years, making first gospel contact with several headhunting, cannibalistic tribes.

This has been re-posted at Desiring God.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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