Missionary Motives, David Hosaflook: “It was worth it all.”

EarthAwhile back, in preparation for this message on international evangelism, I asked several missionary friends (my heroes) two questions about what moved them to the mission field:

1. What biblical passages have been particularly used of the Lord to point you toward the mission field?

2. How would you counsel me to address the issue from the pulpit? What would you caution me against?

The answers I received were tremendously helpful, and I intend to reproduce several of them here. I’d welcome more answers from missionary readers, as well. (Email me at pastor.chris.anderson(@)gmail.com.)

First, my college friend David Hosaflook answered the questions as follows (also posted here):

What biblical passages have been particularly used of the Lord to point you toward the mission field?

1) The WHOLE of Scripture more than any passages … of course a few stand out:

2) The Book of Acts.

3) All the Great Commission passages!  Simple and clear.

4) Acts 20:24 … “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

How would you counsel me to address the issue from the pulpit? What would you caution me against?

1) Let them know the incredible difficulty of “leaving houses and lands …” for the Gospel.  It’s easy to feel the tingly sensations of missionary surrender by listening to a well-crafted, musically-powerful missionary DVD in a climate controlled auditorium and then hearing an impassioned sermon.  But turn the A/C off when you preach the sermon.  Pump in the smells of body odor and strange food and cigarette smoke.  Blast some insipid Balkan or tribal music in the background. Talk about depression and loneliness and pain and smog and threats and fears and danger and discomfort and frustration about the illogical grammar.  Talk about there being 10 Demases that rip your heart out for every Timothy that is faithful.  Talk about pouring out blood, sweat and tears and seeing the harvest come in slower than you thought it would.  Talk about missionary kids struggling to adjust and forever becoming “third-culture” people—neither being culturally American nor Timbuktuan.  Missionary sacrifice is overwhelming.  This isn’t in the fine print—it’s plastered all over the New Testament—but we fail to present this side because we don’t want to sound like we’re bellyaching.  War is Hell.

2) Let the know the incredible reward of doing all this for Christ’s sake.  Talk up the “joy” that was set before Christ at the cross.  Talk up eternal treasure.  Mention the party thrown over the 1-in-100 rescued from destruction.  Overshadow the immense difficulties of missionary sacrifice by the overwhelming rewards in eternity.  Make them jealous for God’s glory and tell them how incredibly amazing it is to see God turn the spiritual light on in a pagan’s heart.  Let them imagine how tear-jerkingly awesome it is to hear a sinner calling upon the name of the Lord, after being convicted by the Holy Spirit through someone as unworthy as them.  And even in the absence of such conversions on a large scale, let them know that there is great fulfillment in knowing that, amidst the pagan sounds and oppressive darkness, you have been sent as a light, lit by the Light. And though no one come, though no one heed, you are there, and they know you are there, and HE knows you are there—and HE is there with you.  Always.  Until it’s all over and you go to your final sleep saying, “I left it all on out there on the field—and it was worth it all.”

Amen. Reader, consider whether the Lord would have you take the gospel where it is unheard or unbelieved. And pastor, join me in praying and laboring more diligently to see more people from our churches go!

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4 Responses

  1. I am involved in “home missions” (utah is still somewhat missionary type) and although I see the great difficulty in foreign missions. I wish I would have paid more attention in Scripture to both of the points the missionary mentions. I wish someone would have told me those two things before I began ministering where we are, but I can’t blame anyone since he is right, it is plastered all over the NT. The 10 demases before the one Timothy is one that has been a struggle for me. I was naive when I began occupational ministry in this small church plant among the religious pagans of Utah, and I assumed that people really did want the Gospel and really just wanted to be taught truth. I praise God that serving Christ is both heart-rending and heart-warming. Thanks for the post.

  2. Oops. I forgot to put the link to the International Evangelism message. Here it is:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=819091018303

  3. 1) Let them know the incredible difficulty of “leaving houses and lands …” for the Gospel. It’s easy to feel the tingly sensations of missionary surrender by listening to a well-crafted, musically-powerful missionary DVD in a climate controlled auditorium and then hearing an impassioned sermon. But turn the A/C off when you preach the sermon. Pump in the smells of body odor and strange food and cigarette smoke. Blast some insipid Balkan or tribal music in the background. Talk about depression and loneliness and pain and smog and threats and fears and danger and discomfort and frustration about the illogical grammar. Talk about there being 10 Demases that rip your heart out for every Timothy that is faithful. Talk about pouring out blood, sweat and tears and seeing the harvest come in slower than you thought it would. Talk about missionary kids struggling to adjust and forever becoming “third-culture” people—neither being culturally American nor Timbuktuan. Missionary sacrifice is overwhelming. This isn’t in the fine print—it’s plastered all over the New Testament—but we fail to present this side because we don’t want to sound like we’re bellyaching. War is Hell.

    This is powerful stuff. So few of us experience front line action in our own Jerusalems in this way – as we ought to.

    This illustrates all the more that we need to be well acquainted with our servants on the field, so our prayers extend far beyond “God bless the missionaries.”

    Thanks for posting these.

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