Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Is Everyone a Missionary

Written by Peter Hammond
The following article by Peter Hammond, was copied with permission from the Covenanter Witness, publication of the Reformed Presbyterian Churches. Peter Hammond is the founder and director of Frontline Fellowship, an organization which works in needy and often dangerous areas in the world.
During our outreach to the Nuba Mountains, we walked about 180 kilometers with a film projector, generator, fuel, film and boxes of gospel literature, up and down the steep mountain slopes. During those long, hot days of walking I thought often of an article in a popular Christian magazine that I had read just prior to the trip. It was entitled, ÒEveryone Can Be a Missionary.Ó Under these circumstances, the title seemed more than incongruous.

Of course, I believe every Christian should be missionary minded and prayerfully support mission work. And naturally, every Christian should be a witness to others. However, the tasks and calling of a missionary demand total lifelong commitment, dedication in training, and perseverance in service. Can everyone be a doctor, an engineer, a pilot, or a mother? It seemed to me that the article had devalued the calling of a missionary. The writer of the article had apparently based her amazing conclusion that everyone can be a missionary on her two-week mission trip to Malawi.

Well, I have received first aid training and have administered first aid to injured people, but I would never call myself a doctor or a nurse. Everyone should learn how to handle basic first aid in an emergency, but we are fooling ourselves if we confuse what we dabble in, almost as a hobby, with the specialized training, experience, and responsibilities of a career professional. This is the same in missions. Cross-cultural communications and church planting amongst Animists or Muslims is extremely difficult and requires thorough preparation and a lifetime commitment.

The technological advantages our generation has over previous generations of missionaries are astounding. It took David Livingstone many weeks by boat and over four months by oxcart to reach his first mission station at Kuruman. It took him years to walk across AfricaÑjourneys that we can now complete in hours by air and days by four-wheel drive vehicles. However, while it is infinitely easier to reach the mission fields today, it is also all too easy to leave.

This modern mobility is therefore both a blessing and a curse. Fast, easy travel has also led to the whole problem of superficiality and shallowness in missions. The hectic schedules and packed programs of short-termers cannot measure up to the impact of a dedicated missionary couple settling amongst an unreached people and investing their lives in discipling a community.

Have we sacrificed quality for quantity? Relief aid for reformation and revival? We have not been called to make converts, but disciples. Patrick JohnstoneÕs conclusion is that we should only invest in short-term mission workers when they are being used in an ongoing ministry for long-term goals.

So, can anybody be a missionary? No. Most people arenÕt even Christians. Can every Christian be a missionary? No, because many Christians are selfish, hypersensitive to criticism, and unwilling to suffer discomfort, let alone danger and diseases. All Christians are called to be faithful witnesses, evangelizing their neighbours and colleagues at work. All Christians are called to support missionsÑbut each of us have different life callings and responsibilities.

Another phrase that was discussed at length by our mission team in the Nuba was the Òglamour of missions.Ó Some people express the view that missionary work is glamorous! As you can imagine, this became the brunt of many a joke in the Nuba Mountains.

Glamorous? Missions is exciting, yes! Challenging, definitely! GlamorousÑhardly ever! Yes, we do sometimes have singing choirs welcoming us to remote villages, and large crowds at services. But in between there are sweltering heat, dust storms, flies, dysentery, boils, sunburn, backache, blisters, and malaria.

It was a mission trip of extremes. Extreme heat, extreme exertion, and extremely good opportunities for ministry. Many thousands made public commitments to Christ in response to our 63 evangelistic and teaching messages in the Nuba.

Please pray for more missionaries to join us in establishing a permanent mission base in Sudan, and in conducting further leadership training courses for teachers, pastor, and farmers. We need trained, experienced, dedicated missionary volunteers who are committed to a lifetime of service to fulfill ChristÕs Great Commission.

Not everyone can be a missionary, but we should all pray for and support the work of missions worldwide.

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