Is Serving Worth It?
Dr. Dan Schafer, president
The Call, January-March 2017
You don’t have to go around the world to find people whose lives have been devastated by sin. We don’t need to leave our communities to find those from other cultures who are living in darkness without the light of Jesus Christ. So why do we continue to pay the high price of sending missionaries around the world when those same Christians could simply serve as missionaries right here in the United States? And why do we continue to send missionaries to areas of the world that have a mature and growing church that could take on the responsibility of evangelizing their own country?
Many individuals, a lot smarter than me, have lined up on both sides of these questions and have presented very articulate, well-thought-out, persuasive responses—arguing both for and against the U.S. and other developed countries continuing to send missionaries around the world. But I would suggest to you that we are asking the wrong questions. There is a more important question than: “Can we justify the cost?” or “Is the national church of a country mature enough to handle things on their own?”
Instead we should ask: “Is the Holy Spirit still calling men and women as missionaries?” The answer is a definitive “yes.” The Holy Spirit started the missionary movement when He requested that the church, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2 NIV). And since He started it, only He can end it.
I don’t fully understand why God chooses to reach the world through missionaries (His ways and thoughts are higher than mine—Isaiah 55:9), but it is obvious that the missionary model is God’s plan, even in countries with mature Christian populations. Have you noticed the missionaries He has sent to the U.S. to reach people here? Thousands of American churches now have pastors who were born in other countries.
Why is He sending missionaries to the U.S.? It’s not because the American church isn’t well established or that it is the least expensive way to evangelize America. It’s because God has a plan “higher” than ours and His Holy Spirit is working that plan, which means He continues to call missionaries from everywhere to everywhere!
Yes, sending missionaries is an expensive proposition. Is it worth it? God seems to think so, so I’m going to go with God on this one.