“People think they’re called to missions, but they just fell in love with the first place they went on a mission trip, or became fascinated with some missionary biography they read.”

I have heard these kinds of sentiments from well-meaning, missions-minded people. It is painful when those closest to you doubt your call to missions, especially when you can’t really explain how you know you’re called. I know from personal experience how hard it is to convince another person about your missionary call when they don’t have one. I remember trying to explain to my father-in-law why I was quitting a great job and taking his baby daughter and grandchildren to live in another country. Convincing someone who is not called is like trying to explain to an eight-year old the difference between liking someone, loving someone, being in love with someone. He may understand the first and second, but having never experienced being in love, that one is lost on him.

Are you sure you have a missionary call? Even some missionaries say, “I don’t need a call, I have a verse,” or as Jim Elliot famously quipped, “You don’t need a call, you need a kick in the pants.” Many believe that the only biblical missionary call necessary is the Great Commission, and we have all received it. They would argue for the great global need for the gospel. They rightly remind us that over a third of the world’s population has no access to it. As Carl F.H. Henry wrote, “The gospel is good news, but only if it gets there in time.” For tens of thousands this very day it won’t.


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The Call to Ministry

How can we understand that millions around the world have no access to the gospel while in the USA there is a trained Christian worker for every 235 people, and around the world there is only one for every 450,000? We know that some are called and guided by God to serve at home, and we are thankful for their ministry and faithful teaching. But how can there still be so many who are so far from the gospel 2,000 years after Christ commanded us in the Great Commission?

One preacher noted that 80% of pastors serve within 200 miles of their wife’s mama, so you wonder who is calling whom. Are you burdened for the nations with a passion that leads you to leave all and go make Christ famous among them? Is that the call? Is there anything like a missionary call in the Bible? We’ll explain that next time.

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series that was originally published at Reaching & Teaching. Here are the other parts: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5