To Go or Stay?
An important question for all Christians to ask is at the same time a question that seemingly few actually ask themselves. At the moment of our conversion, when we are born of the Spirit of God or regenerated, God saved us. Naturally, He could have just brought us to heaven in that moment, but instead He, in His sovereignty, has chosen to leave us here in order to be His witnesses. Our primary focus in life as disciples of Jesus Christ is to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. I love how Paul the Apostle stated it in Acts 20:24 - But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices that testify to a lost world of the grace of God. The door of salvation to all peoples is now open and we are to show them the way. It is both our duty and special privilege, for we have no right ourselves to be serving the King, yet He loving calls and permits us to play a part in His redemptive story! What is the question then that we ought to ask ourselves upon conversion? I would suggest that it ought to be something like this:
"Lord, where would you have me go and how would you
have me proclaim your Gospel?"
Unfortunately, very few seem to ask this question. The majority just assume that they are to stay where they are and that the global mission of Jesus is for someone else. Many are indeed called to stay. In Acts we see that few are the missionaries sent out from Antioch, for example. Missions is not for every Christian, but at the same time it is for every Christian. The Lord calls all His people to be involved personally in either going or sending. Yet seeing how many lands and souls are still unreached today, the question begs to be asked:
Are too many assuming that their role is to stay rather
than assuming they are to go?
Perhaps it's best to assume you should go, at least for
a season of your life, unless God proves otherwise
and makes it clear to you that you should stay!
Before you read the encouraging words posted below on the matter from brother Charles Spurgeon let me suggest another element that may be causing so few to go and be involved in the Lord’s global mission to seek and save the lost. It is my conviction that there are many of the Lord’s people who when they think of missions they think of tribes, jungles or poverty. There is need for missionaries to go to places like that so it is right to think of these places. The problem is that few Americans are actually called and enabled to live in such extreme conditions. To go to a place like that is simply not for everyone; the cultural step is just too big and likely the struggle you would go through in a place like that might just render you useless to the Lord there. However, many lands today, like much of Europe and especially Italy, have millions of souls but less than 1% are evangelical with a proper understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, what the church is and how to be saved.
One reason PMc exists is to help American Christians to see this reality and then to give them an opportunity to get involved, at least in Italy. It is highly possible that you may feel called to missions, but till now have not truly considered actually playing a role overseas because in your understanding that meant a very drastic change of lifestyle. If this is you, we at PMc invite you to truly begin to pray about being involved abroad because it is likely that a step into Italy is not too big of a step for you, culturally speaking. It is still littered with many challenges, don’t get me wrong, but you can by God’s grace live a simple and fruitful life for your King without the fears often associated with missions; things like illness, bad water, strange and terrible foods, cannibals, lack of basic necessities, etc… You may find instead that you can be of great use to the Lord as you come and live to testify of the Gospel of the grace of God among a people who lives very similar to you yet is desperately lost and in need of someone to show them the way of salvation!
Lastly, I would like to mention one more obstacle that often keeps the Lord’s people from getting involved personally in missions - commitment. There was a time that when missionaries departed they literally packed their belongings into a coffin because they knew where they were going they would also eventually die. To travel abroad was a long slow and often dangerous boat ride. When they committed to serve Jesus as a missionary it was a decision for the rest of their life. This too has changed. Now you can depart in the evening on a plane, have a meal, watch a movie, take a nap, wake up to breakfast and find yourself among a different people group. Wow! This means that you can easily dedicate a season of your life to serving Jesus abroad. You can commit to a term of 1, 2, 3 or 4 years. During that time you can evaluate your calling from God and simply complete your term and move on to what God may have for you next or upon His leading commit to another term or even a lifetime of missions there. I myself started out my missionary career with a six-month term to Italy, and as it happened the Lord used that time while I was serving Him to also burden my heart specifically for the Italian people, and moved by His grace, I then committed my heart to live the rest of my days, Lord willing, for Jesus among the Italian people. I’ve seen this happen to others just as I’ve seen countless brothers and sisters come and serve faithfully a term or two to then move on to what God has for them next. It is a wonderful thing that one can commit to serve Jesus abroad for a term today and not have to embark on a long boat ride hoping just to arrive!
I close with a word from brother Spurgeon taken from Lectures to My Students -
"We ought to put it on this footing—not “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but “Can I prove that I ought not to go?” When a man can prove honestly that he ought not to go then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that if some of our leading ministers would go forth it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go. After balancing the whole thing I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would be the same; but I hope I would cheerfully go if it were my duty to do so. Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them till we find them. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is annihilated. True we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues, but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift. The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go? The men who ought to go are young brethren of good abilities who have not yet taken upon themselves family cares."
God bless you as you continue to seek the Lord to know and fulfill your part in His global mission!