by Eva Juliuson
Recently our church heard a report from a husband and wife team we support who have been missionaries to Brazil for over 17 years. It is always exciting to hear what God is doing in other countries. My husband and I serve on our church mission team, so we have heard many personal reports from Ecuador, Taiwan, several countries in Africa, Russia, Panama, Mexico, Philippines, South Korea, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, and places that can’t be mentioned because of the danger involved. In each case, God called these people to leave their own plans behind to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).
In each case, these faithful people have left family, friends, careers, their country (along with certain rights) to go to a foreign land to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to strangers. They have had to learn new languages and customs. In most cases they’ve had to start from scratch—making friends, building relationships, earning trust, and showing God’s love. They purposely seek ways to make acquaintances that can be built into friendships. Every “chance” meeting buying food, at school, on the road, in marketplaces, or in neighborhoods can open the door to sharing the gospel with someone new. Sometimes it happens quickly. Other times years pass before someone comes to Christ after seeing God’s love through these missionaries. Yet once it happens, it spreads as new believers become missionaries.
Every time I hear a missionary give a report I am inspired as I once again realize there is a mission field all around me, too. I don’t have to go to another country. It doesn’t require a short-term trip or a lifelong commitment to some far-off place. I just need to give up some of my selfish plans in order to serve others.
I see lost and hopeless people everywhere I look. Not only do I need to pray for and encourage those serving in other lands, I need to pray for more workers. And I need to join the ranks.
Praying for Missionaries
Missionaries may feel isolated and vulnerable at times. Often they are far from family and the support of their home congregations. It may take longer than they like to build relationships where seeds of the gospel can be planted. They experience victories and disappointments as they work to build God’s kingdom in new areas. Children and marriages must adjust to new cultures and customs. Many times these servants are “on call” to do God’s work 24 hours a day. Missionaries who serve in far away countries need our prayers and words of encouragement. Get to know the missionaries your local church supports. Ask about their needs. Pay close attention to the newsletters they send to their supporters.
Today’s technology makes it easier for us to keep in touch with those in other countries. An e-mail or Facebook message can often lift a heart at just the right time. (If the missionary works in a country where it might be dangerous to communicate about the Lord, find out if it is acceptable to send messages by checking with the forwarding agent or sponsoring church.) Letters or small packages are still a much-anticipated treasure from home to those serving far away.
Even those who are doing mission work stateside (orphanages, prisons, inner city settings, university campuses, medical services, homeless ministries, pregnancy crisis centers, and so on) will be encouraged by your prayers and notes. Adopt a few missionaries and pray for them on a regular basis. Never underestimate the power of prayer in spreading the gospel around the world. Though we may not know the circumstances, God often nudges us to pray for one of his missionaries at just the right time. Through our support, prayers, and encouragement we can be a part of a mission team already in place.
Praying for More Missionaries
Hopeless people of all ages can be found along our streets, in prisons, in hospitals, in schools, in sport leagues, and at work. They are desperate for the hope of Christ. The need for salvation and eternal life are the same in every corner of the world—and in our own communities.
The need may seem overwhelming at times. But take heart, we are in good company. Jesus was also overcome with the great needs he witnessed. Matthew 9:36-38 states, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
Jesus finished his work on the cross and conquered death through his resurrection. Yet he left the church to be built and multiplied by ordinary men and women empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Millions of people today—around the world and in our neighborhoods—need to be reached by this generation with the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray for people in your local church, on college campuses, and in communities across the nation to answer the call. Pray for more workers. Better yet, become one yourself.
Praying to Be a Missionary
The great commision applies to all of us.
Have you ever wondered how quickly the gospel would spread if every Christian considered himself an active missionary? What if we all lived our lives looking for every opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ with those who need it? Perhaps we would think of our jobs and careers in another light. Instead of being simply a way to make money or to “get ahead,” our jobs might be seen as a chance to build relationships so we can share Jesus with a coworker or a customer. If we realized we were on a mission, we would always have our eyes open for every chance to share Jesus Christ.
While cheering a child or grandchild from the sidelines of a soccer or baseball game, we could be watching for ways to bring the Lord into conversations. Instead of being too busy for our neighbors, perhaps we can make it a point to deepen our relationships and earn their trust so they might listen to the truth of Jesus Christ. Relationships with coworkers, family members, friends, and even the cashier at the grocery store could be patiently cultivated. We might make sure to share what God is doing in our lives so they’ll want to know more for themselves. If we viewed our mission as our real work, we might be more patient with others, more willing to serve, ready to love and forgive—all to show others the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
Father, help me stay focused on the mission so I am not so easily sidetracked with things that won’t matter in the light of eternity. Lord, thank you for allowing me to join in your mission to save those who are lost and alone without a shepherd. You give our lives purpose and meaning as we participate in your work. Remind me to keep praying for those who are currently serving you. Father, the need is greater today than ever. Please send even more workers. Father, send me—even if I need to serve right where I already am. Amen.
Eva Juliuson is a freelance writer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Be a Missionary Where You Are
What if we lived our lives looking for every opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ with those who need it?
That’s quite a challenge. How do we do it? Why not try the way Jesus did: sitting down with “the lost” or “sinners” and having a meal together and sharing some conversation?
Eats with Sinners by Arron Chambers
Here’s what’s on the menu:
• Essential ingredients for sharing Christ in an intentional way;
• Meal plans: guides for personal reflection and practical application;
• Recipes, tips, stories, and other enriching information.
Find out more: www.standardpub.com