This week my husband, Brent, is in Guatemala training
local pastors at a conference. He’s been given the task of teaching them biblical doctrine, which is kind-of perfect for him since he loves the Scriptures and all things relating to theology. I am so excited for him because this type of mission trip has been on his heart since I met him 10 years ago.
I’m also a tiny bit jealous because I love that region of the world. For two years, I lived in Costa Rica, working in the Journeyman program. I was on a team that taught English as a Second Language & started Bible studies among college students who were interested in the faith. During my time there, the Lord gave me such a love for the people, culture & language.
There’s no other experience like immersing yourself in a different culture and becoming a part of it, all for the sake of winning them to Christ. It’s hard and all sorts of challenging, but it’s also such a beautiful picture of what Christ did in the incarnation- leaving His home in heaven and coming to the intensely different culture of earth to save us.
Here is Brent with his translator from Sunday.
As he prepared to leave, my heart couldn’t help but be stirred up in a fresh way for the nations. All last week, I listened to Spanish worship CDs in the car and was reminded of how God led me to want to go to Costa Rica. Today, I thought I’d share with you the 2 main ways He gave me a passion for missions.
1. God’s Emphasis on the Nations in Scriptures.
For me, the more I am reading the Bible and taking it to heart, the more alive I am. And the more I sense God’s leading in my life, as well. It was no different in this case- how God led me to live in another country as a missionary. As many times as I had read the Psalms, somehow I had never noticed the emphasis placed on God being glorified and made much of in the nations. There are two psalms that were instrumental in God’s call at the time.
The first is Psalm 96:2-3, 10. Notice how God gives the missionary command- to proclaim good news of His salvation. He also shows His heart’s desire here- for His name is to be honored and glorified among the nations.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples….
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
I love that God is the author of missions. He is not content with only being the God of the Israelites. Once they rejected Jesus as Savior, as recorded in Acts, the Apostles turned to the Gentiles, and how the Gentiles rejoiced to be included in this grand salvation! God has now made the gospel available for all the world. This is his heart- that all nations hear of who He is & worship Him as King. Amazing.
The second verse God used to call me to missions was Psalm 33:8. This one pretty much sums up the purpose of missions.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
Yes! He is worthy of awe. So worthy, that everyone who lives on this earth should stand in amazement of who He is.
As I read that verse my senior year of college, God began to move in my heart to want to be a part of that goal. I wanted to have the privilege of calling the inhabitants of the world to stand in awe of Him. I wanted to give my all and live among people of a different language and culture so they might know Him, honor Him & worship Him as He is due.
2. A God-Centered View of Missions
The second way God called me to short term missions was by changing my view of it.
I don’t know about you, but for most of my life when I heard someone giving a challenge or communicating that missionaries were needed, they usually made their appeal on the basis of the need of man. That without people hearing the gospel, they will sadly die and spend eternity in hell, away from the presence of the Lord.
This is tragic & is a huge motivation for missions. I think of Jesus having compassion on the crowds in Matthew 9, that they were like sheep without a shepherd, and needed laborers to come work in the harvest field.
So, yes, compassion for the unsaved is huge, but somehow, (maybe because my heart is so fickle and more self-centered than I’d like to admit), but somehow for me, compassion always seemed to run cold after a while. I needed more than just compassion for the unsaved to send me to another culture as a missionary.
What I needed was a more God-centered view of missions. John Piper’s quote from Let the Nations be Glad clarifies this so beautifully.
Missions is about God and His glory. It is about our voices calling the nations to join those who will worship around the throne of God at the end of the age. Yes, man does benefit when he or she believes and is saved, but it is ultimately about the glory of God and that He is worshipped by those He created.
This change in thinking about the nature of missions propelled me to get on an airplane and go, and is also Brent’s heart as he is in Guatemala this week. God is a never-ending fountain that cannot run dry, so if He is my motivation for missions instead of man, my motivation will never run dry. This was a huge shift in my thinking.
Placing your hope and joy more in God’s glory, rather than man’s benefit also brings more stability to your heart as you minister among the lost. We share the gospel; Some will believe, but many will not. If I see my victory solely in man’s response to believe, I will quickly become depressed. But victory is not ultimately found in man’s response. Victory is found in the fact that the gospel is faithfully being proclaimed.
Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 2.
As we walk thorough this world in the power of the Spirit, we are an aroma of Christ. To those who believe, it is a beautiful scent, but to those who are perishing is the stench of death. Now, I am only producing one scent, but it is received differently depending on the heart of the person hearing my message. I can rejoice, no matter how I’m received because as long as I’m faithfully sharing, God’s Word says I am triumphant. God is being glorified in my faithful aroma of Christ, no matter what & that is the ultimate goal. I can stay encouraged as I share the gospel because God has been glorified in the sharing & I can trust Him to build His Kingdom as He sees fit.
That doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t weep and plead with people to come to Christ. We do, like Paul did. If you don’t know Christ, come to Him! Turn away from your own ways & trust that God’s ways are better. You can be made right with God through Jesus! He can really do this in your life, and give you peace as you relinquish control to Him. I pray you would believe!
So, as you ponder these things, please pray for Brent as he teaches in Guatemala. I also pray for you as you read this- that God would be made more supreme in your own heart and affections & that you’d view your life as an instrument God can use to make His name great among the nations!