Thursday, October 26, 2006

what is a missionary?

this morning's devotion has been sticking in my mind so clearly today. many times i've had to reread things in order to really process what it's saying, especially in the morning and today was no different. along with having to explain it to myself to make sure i understood instead of just read, i connected it surprised.....a teaching strategy.

i've often taught a lesson about the pioneers and the California Gold Rush. there were many things that "pulled" settlers out west, things that enticed and were attractive to men and women alike that gravitated them West. Things such as harsh conditions and failure in their original homelands are categorized as things that "pushed" them.

again, we have conditions that attracted them "towards" something and conditions that repelled people or "pushed" them from behind.

in church words, we could say some were "sent" and some were "called". make sense?

missionaries are often persuaded to present their missions using graphic stories, outstanding statistics, and desperate faces on their slides and displays. don't get me wrong, needs have to be met and sometimes we have to have that certain heartstring pulled inside ourselves in order to feel motivated at all. situations have to appear desperate enough in order to "call" people to them.

however, Oswald Chambers challenged me this morning to look at it a different way.
missionaries are sent. they might feel called, but i believe that in fact, they are commanded by a force BEHIND them. they are not sent by the people who need them. they are pulled towards them, but sent by Jesus.

the most important part of the whole missionary equation is the command. don't go because they need you. go because you were told to go.

fix the "pulls" as a result of the "push".

In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God's call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind falters an dfails. We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ- "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations."

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest