There are tens of thousands of people dying without Christ in Colombia. There are billions and billions of people dying without Christ all over the world. There are very, very few people who are willing to share the Gospel with those who need to hear about Christ. Does this seem like a problem to you? It does to me.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that God has seen us in our wretched state and decided to offer us a rescue from our fully deserved destruction. John 3:17 tells us, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus is offering us a way to be saved!! But of course, John 3:18 shows us the other side of the situation: “He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is only good news because of the alternative. If everyone was destined to go to heaven, then salvation wouldn’t mean much. But oh! There is a choice that is made in the heart of every man, a choice to follow one’s own heart or the heart of the Father. And the consequence of the first is the certain eternal torment of the soul. This is not theoretical!! The death of the unreached soul is a tragedy unequaled on this earth. Those without Christ are condemned to Hell. What shall we do to help?
The Lord said while he was on this earth: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” We are either the workers ourselves or we are praying for them and sending them out. Of course, everyone has the responsibility to proclaim the Good News at home to all those without Christ. But we also have a clear and divine commandment: ask the Lord to send workers out into the mission field. And we have the Great Commission, as well, which tells us to go and teach all nations. Are we going to best help make that mission happen by staying home, giving money, and praying? Or are we best going to make that happen by personally giving everything up in our precious home country and heading out to tell people about Christ over in the regions beyond?
No man can make that decision for you. But that decision must be made. It is a true dichotomy; there are precisely two choices. Either go… or send and pray. For the true Christian, ignoring the need is not an option. Which choice will you make?
First, it is indeed 100% essential for a missionary to speak the language. I, Matt, have been certified by the University of Central Florida as a Spanish-English interpreter, and I can tell you from my own personal experience that all interpreters fall short of getting the full message across. Professional interpreters often fail to correctly and fully convey the intended meaning of what the original language says—imagine someone without professional training and practice! They will miss part of the intended message, and “fill in the blanks” by guessing what the missionary might have said. More than once, I have seen a critical points in a sermon missed by an interpreter.
If a missionary is not comfortable with the Word of God getting muffled or confused, then that missionary has to learn the language of the people he’s trying to reach. That much is basically indisputable. But if God has put missions on your heart, should you only try to reach countries where you already speak the language? Not even close!! Adoniram Judson spent three long years learning Burmese; William Carey spent the first six years from his arrival in India learning Bengali and translating the New Testament. I doubt many would consider them to be ineffective missionaries!
Yes, if God is calling you to be a missionary, then you should be a missionary. And if you should be a missionary, then you should learn the language. But I, Matt, can say from personal experience that any language IS learnable. It IS doable. This is not something that only a select few can do. With a couple of years of hard work and dedication, anyone could learn a new language—and this isn’t even considering the fact that we have a Holy Ghost that we know will continue to perfect us and make us better for doing the work of God on this earth. If God has called you to missions, do not use the language as a cop-out! Be strong and courageous!
When Jesus left Capernaum, he said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore I am sent.” (Luke 4:43) We see that Jesus needed to go from one place to another to tell of the kingdom of God; after all, it would be a tremendous shame if the Son of God were restricted to one single location.
The residents of Capernaum had received an incredible amount of excellent teaching, they had received doctrine from God himself, they had seen the incarnate Son of God, they had access to God’s Holy Word, they had synagogues where they were taught on the Sabbath, and they were quite literally living in God’s country. They had every advantage possible. Jesus’ response at the time was to leave and go to other regions, where the Gospel had not yet been preached.
Capernaum was fairly near to Jesus’ childhood home of Nazareth; its culture was probably familiar to him, and its people certainly spoke the same language and had similar religious practices. Yet Jesus quickly moved from Capernaum to other parts of the country, knowing he had other people to reach.
Colombia is out there, and in most parts of it no one has had a chance yet to find out about Jesus. Like the rest of Israel, Colombia has heard something about God, but they don’t understand the need to repent and believe in the one who can save them simply by the blood he spilled, saving by grace through faith. Yes America needs the Gospel but America is only 4.4 percent of the world’s population. That means that out there is the other 95.6 percent that don’t know much or nothing at all about Jesus and what He did. Wow, I hope this helps you see that we need to send more missionaries to the world. Many people are dying and going to hell everyday all around the world.
I am not saying that America does not need more churches, of course we do but at the same time we must also send as many missionaries as we can to the world. Both should be of equal priority, to evangelize our home country and to evangelize the whole world.
One of the toughest things a missionary has to deal with on the field is the distance between the missionary and the loved ones. While modern-day missionaries do not have to deal with the same lack of communication with the home front that the likes of William Carey had to, it still is a sizable burden that many of their friends and families may not understand.
Living overseas, everything is different. The people are different, the language is different, the climate is different, the culture is different, the food is different, and your dynamic with your family is different. The one thing you count on to have stayed the same is your God in heaven and His Word, who never ever changes. Other than Him, yes, nearly everything else will have changed.
Some missionaries do already speak the language, so their initial culture shock will be lessened. I also speak Spanish, so when I get to Bolivia for my five-month internship, I will have a slightly easier time than the normal. But our parents won’t be there. Our friends we’ve loved for a lifetime won’t be there. Our siblings won’t follow us. Nor will our old jobs, our church, our pastors, our community. Colombia is different. Especially to Mariangela, who has no blood ties to Colombia, everything about it will scream at first: “You are not home.”
One constant that missionaries count on is the love and friendship of the “home front”–Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, and friends. There is simply nothing like getting to spend an hour chatting with someone from back home. What a blessing that is for the man who has had a hard time making friends out on the field. What peace that can bring a woman who’s having a hard time communicating with anyone around her. We as humans were made to be in relationship with people! When those relationships are coming slowly in the new situation, it can be nerve-wracking.
Sometimes, people on the home front think that they’re annoying the missionaries if they reach out to them. That really couldn’t be further from the truth in almost every case! I have NEVER heard of a missionary lamenting getting too much of a connection from home. Instead, they tend to wish people back home had reached out more. They tend to feel FORGOTTEN. When I was in Spain (non-mission reasons), I had only a couple of friends who reached out to me regularly… they meant the world to me. A half-hour call with a family member would make my entire day! The apostle Paul seemed to think communication with the people he loved was important, too—he sent and received many letters, and though he had many important doctrinal points to teach and theological matters to clarify, he took the time to emphasize personal connections (read 2 Timothy 1!) as well as connections with the churches.
If you are not going to the field as a missionary, you’ve probably heard several times that it’s your duty to give money and to pray for them. I’m reminded of Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees in Luke 11:42—yes, the financial support is great, and prayer is necessary, but sometimes all someone needs is a friend. Please, befriend a missionary if you at all can. Support them with your finances if God leads you that way, but certainly support them with your heart. Especially once they’ve reached the mission field, communicate with them! Most every missionary yearns for connection with the homeland. Could you reach out to a missionary?
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