It is Easier and Harder Than Ever to Be a Missionary

xIsiRLngSRWN02yA2BbK_submission-photo-7

 

Today is an interesting time for global missions.

In many ways, it is easier than ever for us to get to the nations. Consider that early missionaries would travel on a dirty ship for two months through storms to get to their field, and then complain to me about the 2 hour delay on your layover. Travel is a lot easier and cheaper than it was.

And we cannot forget about the ease of communication. Today, with the internet, we can reach most anywhere in the world, at any time, instantaneously, and usually for free. Of course, that is not true everywhere. I served in one of those few places where the internet barely reaches, but those locations are shrinking by the day. So, in some ways, it is easier to be a missionary than ever.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Two thousand years after the church started sharing the good news of the Kingdom, there are still many places in the world with no access to the gospel.[/pullquote]But at the same time, it is getting harder to be a missionary in many places… a lot harder.

As the world gets more connected, large portions of it experience social, religious, and even governmental opposition to the spread of the gospel. The opposition is active with governments of whole countries making it illegal to share the gospel, accept the gospel, or start churches. If you want to serve as a missionary to these countries and they know that is why you are coming, they will not let you come. If they find out you have been sharing the gospel while you are there, they will kick you out or perhaps send you to jail. It is even worse for citizens of these countries. If they have any believers at all, and they share the gospel, they can be imprisoned or even killed.

Ironically, the ease of communication makes this worse. Many governments are actively censoring the internet and trying in every way possible to keep their people from hearing the truth about Jesus. With the internet, it is easy to spot a missionary. A simple Google search will often do. In many ways, it is harder than ever to be a missionary in these parts of the world.

Two thousand years after the church started sharing the good news of the Kingdom, there are still many places in the world with no access to the gospel. No access. In other words, whole populations, whole people groups, can be born, live, and die without ever having an opportunity to hear about salvation. These people stand under the wrath of God because of the curse of sin, and whole populations have no chance of knowing that their greatest need has a solution. For those of us who have tasted the goodness of the gospel, who know the steadfast love of our Heavenly Father, this reality should be intolerable.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]For those of us who have tasted the goodness of the gospel,  this reality should be intolerable.[/pullquote]

And because of that, it is perhaps more important than ever for us to find every means necessary to get to those with no access to the gospel. It means finding creative ways to live among the nations, using our gifts and talents and job skills to integrate into these societies that are closed off to the gospel in legitimate ways. We need more, not less, people to prepare for life overseas.

And as I write these words, God in his wisdom is preparing other means for some of the least-reached peoples to have gospel access as well. It may be easier than ever for us to get to the nations, but that means it is easier than ever for the nations to get to us.

In Acts 17, Paul is preaching the gospel in Athens and makes a beautiful statement about the God of this gospel. He says, “And he [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27). God is not just the creator of the nations, he is their director as well. It is God who decides when and where people live.

For the last 20-30 years, global migrations have hit a fever pitch. People are moving all over the globe and resettling in other countries. And above all the other countries, the United States stands ahead of the pack as a recipient of migration. At last count, there are over 42 million migrants living in the US. Many of them from these same countries with no access to the gospel. Regardless of your stance on immigration policy, God is the one behind the movements of humanity and we need to realize that he is at work.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It is no accident that God is plucking up peoples from the toughest to reach places and sprinkling them into the heartland of evangelical Christianity.[/pullquote]

This does not absolve our responsibility to go to the nations, but it provides a whole new pathway through which we can fulfill the Great Commission. It does mean we have a responsibility to be a neighbor to these newcomers. It does mean we have a message to proclaim to people very different than us.

If God is about the work of moving some of the least-reached peoples of the world within arms reach of our local churches, then we must answer the question, “What are we going to do about it?”

 

 

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply