What do you think about when you hear the word missionary? Does your mind immediately take you to someone who has gone off to somewhere like Africa, Asia, or South America? Do you envision someone like Mother Teresa, giving your life to serve the poor? I think that is typically where we all go when we think of a missionary. We have made the idea of a missionary almost glamorous despite the fact that we usually imagine them in the least glamorous situations.
The life of a missionary certainly seems exciting. They get to spend their lives serving God and serving people. They are always on the go without the distractions of the draining monotony that we deal with every day. They get to unplug from their electronic devices that most of us can’t go thirty seconds without checking. The only task they have on their to-do list each day is to follow God wherever He may lead them. Do you want a life like that?
We are all called to be missionaries, but I don’t believe that we should all drop everything right now and jump on the next plane out of here. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what God has called you to do, then by all means, go. I think that we too often make the mistake that the only people who can be missionaries are the ones who have gone to live in some foreign country. The sad truth is that we are living in the fastest growing missionary field in the world. Every study says that Christianity in America is declining rapidly. Most estimates say that only 1/3 of Americans go to church regularly. We need missionaries in America, and we need them now.
I heard a phrase some time ago, but I don’t remember who said it. It goes, “Bloom where you are planted.” That saying has always stuck with me. I am a dreamer, and if I’m not careful, I’ll get caught up in my dreams and neglect the calling that God has already given me. When I was in college, I had the dream of being a missionary in North Korea. I know, that sounds crazy. Everything about that country attracted me to it. There are millions of people over there that have never even heard the name of Jesus. I could be at the forefront of introducing those people to Christ. I thought that I could be a modern day Paul. The dangers didn’t scare me, of course, that was easy to say as I sat thousands of miles away. I could change the world if I could just get over there.
It was about that time when I heard that saying. I had to take a moment and access my life. I realized that I had become so infatuated with my dream that I wasn’t focusing enough on the reality. I was called to preach the Gospel to high school kids in Huntington. God had planted me there for a reason, and I needed to bloom. I’m not saying don’t dream. Dream and dream big, that’s often where we find our calling but don’t forget about the here and now.
Wherever you are, you have been planted there by God to be His missionary. We need to live into that role. No matter where you are when you’re reading this, you are surrounded by folks who need to experience God’s love and hear the Gospel. I’m sure that you’ve heard some variation of the adage, “You may be the only Jesus that someone will meet.” There is a lot of truth to that, especially with the decline of the Church. God never intended for the church to merely be a place that people came to; He intended for the Church to go to the people.
If you have put your faith in Christ, then you are qualified to be a missionary. You don’t need any specialized training or education. Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I desired to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” That’s the message that the world is desperately in need of hearing. We often get bogged down in theological debates, but I assure that you don’t need to know the nuances of eschatology to preach the Gospel. All you need to know is who Christ is and what He did for us.
Think of where you spend your time every day and with whom you spend it. What would look different if you focused every day on serving God and serving others? How would it look if you took the call to be a missionary seriously? I can assure you of this, lives will be changed and the kingdom will grow. Yes, you will face opposition but remember, we are victorious in Christ who has already conquered life and death.
There is only one task that needs to be on your to-do list every day, follow God wherever He is leading you. You have been planted; now it’s time to bloom. The world needs missionaries just like you. Will you go?