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Guest blogger: Jason Carter

Thinking of missionary service? Maybe you should. It’s not as farfetched as you think. So, you have a spouse and kids? Moving to the other side of the globe is a not a manned-mission to Mars. People still breathe oxygen in Mongolia, Mozambique and Malaysia – and actually everywhere in between.

I know, I know all this comes with enormous caveats: “You can serve God anywhere.” “Moving overseas doesn’t make you a missionary.” “Your missionary field is right next door.” If you’ve attended a missions conference at a local church, speakers nowadays usually go out of their way not to lay a big guilt trip on the whole congregation for not moving to Timbuktu.

Would that be so bad? Maybe we don’t need a guilt trip, but how about a challenge?

Yes, Jesus did say: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8). But he didn’t stop there. He proceeded to wildly expand the geographic vision of these Israel-centric young-buck disciples: “and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.

The message: “Be my witness in downtown Chicago (where you work) and in your suburban Chicago neighborhood (where you live)” is a truncated message. Jesus came to save more than suburban soccer moms and urban hipsters. The North American church is dangerously close to making provincial what Jesus meant to be global.

I think it started with good enough intentions. We’re all called to be participate in Christ’s mission. (Yes, we are.) You can serve Christ right where you are. (Yes, you can.) Over and over, Christians are being told that their mission field is right where they are. That’s true. But only partially so.

Let’s not gloss or oversimplify the Great Commission into a metaphor for “going across the street” or “being bold for Jesus at the water cooler.” It’s so much more than that. It’s a global clarion call for disciples to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations.

In our good intentions to help people serve right where they are locally, let’s not stamp out the few remaining embers of fire in the local church for global missions.

There are dangers in making “the mission field” a provincial little place to mean “wherever you happen to be now.” This kind of thinking, if left unchecked, has the potential to cripple the cause of global missions by reducing the global message of Jesus to your circle of acquaintances.

Yes, your “mission field” is, in one sense, right where you are.  But it doesn’t have to be. You could move! Your mission field could be at-risk children in the favelas of São Paulo. Your mission field could be a network of HIV/AIDS support groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Your mission field could be a people group in Southeast Asia with no access to the gospel. Your mission field could be training indigenous leaders for ministries of the gospel. (I am especially fond of this last one.)

Churches who continuously indoctrinate their people with “your mission field is right where you are” without simultaneously challenging the congregation to follow Christ into cross-culture missionary service are effectively splashing an ice-bucket challenge on the global, ethnē-centered words of the Great Commission. The cross-cultural response of “O Lord, send me” is silenced in the local church when the cross-cultural question is never seriously considered.

A house payment and having kids settled in a good school need not be IRS ironclad exemptions from participating in global missions. Don’t assume that college-aged kids have a monopoly on obedience to the Great Commission. Jesus called Simon Peter and his business partners James and John to drop everything at the least opportune time – on the verge of becoming a regional powerhouse in the first-century fishing industry (Luke 5:1-11).

You should consider that global missions is a real vocational possibility. But not from a place of guilt nor to muster up some radical desire to “really” follow Christ like some modern-day desert father or medieval monk. It’s a possibility because Christ has already commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” And as we “go” and step out in obedience, Jesus promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).

Mission is not just about you and where you happen to be at this particular moment. It’s about the Lordship of Christ. He’s King. And not just of your neighborhood or office suite. But of the whole earth.

Global missions? Don’t take it out of the realm of possibility.

Don’t exclude the possibility that God might want to call….you.

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13 thoughts on “You (Yes, You!) Should Consider Global Missions”

  1. JL Haxton says:

    It is something I feel God is dealing with me about. I just don’t know what/how/where to start looking.

  2. Mike Donahue says:

    JL, check out where you can look at the areas of the world that are most in need of gospel witness. Then pray, seek godly council and pray some more. I love the words of one of Keith Green’s songs, “Jesus commands us to go, it should be the exception if we stay, it’s no wonder we’re moving so slow, when God’s children refuse to obey, feeling so called to stay.”

  3. Jay Greer says:

    Thanks for the article. You put many of my thoughts into words.

  4. JZ says:

    JL. Pray and consider Japan (2nd largest unreached people group). If you feel led, we’d love to have you join our church planting team.

  5. Tricia says:

    Yes! Amen! Thank you!

  6. Chris Page says:

    JL, I’ll pass along a few words of advice when attempting to discern God’s call to the mission field. I was in your shoes a few years ago, and my family and I have now been serving in Kenya for 3 years.

    1) Consult with your wife (if married) and pray with her about God’s pull on your heart towards missions. Make sure that both of you are of the same heart when it comes to moving overseas. If she’s not on board, don’t force it; if God wants you in the mission field, He will call your wife, too.

    2) Talk and meet regularly with your pastor. Share your desires to go to the mission field with him. Heed his counsel and his recommendations for preparation.

    3) Pray that the Lord would align your interests and desires with His will. If you feel God calling you to international missions, ask Him to increase your passion and interest for the people of that nation or people group. If your interest wanes, consider the possibility that the time isn’t right. If your interest and desire increases, keep praying!

    4) Get to know current and former missionaries. Pick their brains on best practices, and how God used (or is using) them in the mission field.

    5) Know your purpose and your plan prior to moving overseas. Many of the missionaries that I see struggling in the mission field moved overseas without having a clear understanding of what their job description would be in the field. Do your homework to know what your targeted area needs, and then determine if you have the skills, ability, and/or gifting to meet those needs.

    6) Visit your desired area of missions on a short term trip prior to deciding to go full-time. Know what it will take to sustain yourself, and prepare a budget accordingly so that you’ll know how much support you’ll need to raise.

    7) Most Importantly: A missionary gave me and my wife this advice when we were praying about moving our family of six to Kenya: Only go to the mission field when you discern that God would have you do nothing else. If you feel that staying in the US would still be in God’s will, then stay in the US! But if you (and your spouse) feel that not going to the mission would be disobedience to Him, then go!

    Hope these words of advice help! God bless!

  7. Ciarán Kelleher says:

    Can I maybe just mention that you fall into the ploy that most missionaries encourages fall into. It’s all about the exotic foreign fields of Africa and Asia. But how about Western Europe, once a Christian stronghold, now a veritable desert for the Gospel.

  8. Jason Carter says:

    Ciarán: You’re right! How about Mongolia, Mozambique and Monaco?!!!

  9. Joe says:

    Yes, let’s encourage people to go to Europe. But still, mission priority needs to go to places that don’t have bibles in their language and have no chance to hear about Jesus. These peoples still exist!

  10. JL Haxton says:

    JZ…Thanks JZ I will pray about this. I have a pastor friend that went there on a short tem missions trip and I was so moved about them passing out bibles to the Japanese. He said a lot acted like they had never seen one. My heart breaks for people who have never had the chance to hear about the wonderful Savior I have!

  11. JL Haxton says:

    Thanks Chris Page. I so appreciate your heart and thoughts on this matter.

  12. Hillary says:

    My husband told me two weeks ago out of the blue that he wants to go into missions and move overseas. He just started taking classes. I’m trying to be supportive, but this is not what I want. We have three young children. I don’t feel like I have a calling in missions. The more I decline it the more he Rebels and says he’s moving. I just think we have to talk this out together, but he doesn’t want to hear me out. I just tell him it’s up to God. What should I do this news has shook me up and trying to give it all to God. What do I do?

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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