The Mission Field: Need v. Call

Last night I ate dinner with a man and his wife from my local church who were  missionaries in Nigeria for over twenty years. They now serve with Overseas Council overseeing seminaries and Bible colleges. Throughout our discussion of our lives we discussed missions in general. As I listened to him discuss his involvement in missions across the world, I thought about the great differences in the spectrum of the various mission fields. The mission field is so needy. The laborers are in such need all around the world. But every area is unique from one another. He discussed how the needs in Nigeria were to keep up with the fast growth of Christianity. He discussed that there really are not enough trained leaders to give the Nigerians more depth to their faith. Many Nigerians are swept away with other false doctrines because of their shallow faith. As I sat and listened to him describe this my heart went out to this country. Oh how I wish I could help prevent wolves from stealing away God’s sheep. Oh how I want to get involved. What a need there is in Nigeria.

But then I remember the country of Japan. A country which lives without ever thinking of Jehovah God. A country hard to the working of God. It’s at the complete opposite side of the spectrum. While Nigeria has in essence too many believers to disciple, Japan many times lacks enough believers to even have church services. Where is the greater need? What about places like the jungles of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea? There are people groups begging for missionaries. Places like Japan ignore Christianity. A missionary can go years without one convert. Is it a waste then for me to go to Japan when there are people groups and tribes and nations who would long for me to come to them? It would seem this way from a simple pragmatic standpoint, but we’re forgetting a major element of missions: God’s call.

There is a difference between need and call. In our eyes it would seem that the places begging for missionaries should be the first place I would go. And a part of me wants to help them out as much as possible. There is something bigger than need, and that is God’s will. God does indeed will that all men come unto the knowledge of the truth. And the truth has been placed in our hands to give to the world. If there are people who are desiring to have a missionary, then someone needs to obey God’s call to go there. But I know that I have been called to Japan. Therefore there is no better place for me to go than to Japan. For there is no safer, nor better place to be than in the middle of God’s will.

From a human standpoint it would seemingly make sense for me to go where I am seemingly needed the greatest. But God knows and sees the whole picture. Japan needs someone who is called to them. That is where I fit in. Who greater needs God than a country that does not even think about Him? Someone needs to tell them about Jesus Christ. God loves all people equally. If people are not hearing about the Gospel, it is not God’s fault. It is our own. Indeed it is true, we have no right to hear the Gospel twice while their remains those who have not heard it once.

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