Mar 25, 2024

Willing to Go: The Real Meaning and Cost of Missions

I was sitting at a coffee shop writing, when an employee sat down in front of me, picking at a donut. She began to tell me about her life, how her family had fled her home in the Middle East and had come here to start a new life. I told her I had a friend who had moved to her country and she wouldn’t believe me. She couldn’t believe that someone would go there to love her people even though her nation was so dangerous and corrupt. After our conversation ended another employee came and sat across from me and we also struck up a conversation. She was a believer, and she told me she was interested in cross-cultural ministry. She shared that she wanted to do a short-term trip somewhere because she wanted to help people. I asked her if she ever thought about doing that here with the people around her who were from every nation around the world. She replied, “Oh, you mean like the people that walk in the ditches by the roads and pick up garbage?” This was her interpretation of what reaching people for Christ looked like here. This girl was not aware that the people from restricted access nations were here in our city, in her workplace, and in her midst. She wasn’t aware that maybe God had brought her to this very coffee shop for such a time as this, even when it didn’t necessarily feel like ministry.

I had a friend who moved here from another nation and at the time had no idea that there were other religions in the world other than her own. She thought all the people in the world had the same belief system. The isolation of her country and the restricted borders had caused her to never believe anything different. This wasn’t a deliberate decision of faith that had been made, rather it was the result of being born into a nation like hers.

It is estimated that of the 8 billion people alive in the world today, 3.4 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little or no access to a church, a Bible or even to be able to ask a believer if they have questions. That means 40% of the world is unreached. This 40 percent have little to no access to the gospel or a bible in their language.

When we send workers out to other places, many of them are going to places already established in the Christian faith. Over 90% of our resources and people being sent out to other nations are going to countries that are already predominately Christian. Does this mean it’s all worthless and there isn’t a place for that? No, but it’s really a question of worthiness. Do we believe that people groups are worthy of hearing about Christ who have never heard? Do we really believe that people are worthy of His love? Do we believe that Christ is worthy of our risk, sacrifice, and discomfort to go to the hard places?

Why are these places still unreached?

Partially, it’s because they are hard to get into. Many of these places have restricted borders, or restrictions on who can enter and live there. Another reason is that sometimes in ministry we care about what our name looks like more than glorifying His name. We want to look good and don’t necessarily care that much about Him looking good. We want to be like the brand Calvin Klein. We want our name to be printed in big letters across a shirt for all to see. We want to see the fruit of our ministry and we want to look good while doing it. We want the glamour and the fame of going to work at an orphanage overseas instead of reaching out to our neighbor from another religion down the street. We want the glory for ourselves.

We want people to see who we are, not to see just who He is.

For the gospel to be spread to the nations who have come here and are still there, we must be willing to put the Calvin Klein shorts and T-shirt aside and say “I’m going to wear this plain black T-shirt instead.”  We cannot go into these nations and these people groups blaring with our “Christianese” and our megaphones, and Billy Graham crusades. It doesn’t work that way in a lot of these cultures. It works by the one…

By changing what you wear so you can adapt to their culture.

By being willing to eat their food, to be in a relationship over the long haul.

By being willing to not have the glory for ourselves, but to glorify Him.

In Matthew 20, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus and asks that her sons could sit at the right hand of him in heaven. What a bold request. She wanted her Calvin Klein T-shirt and the matching pants too. Jesus responded by saying, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Are you really able to drink from this bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” They respond with a resounding “yes” that they are able. Jesus reminds them of the suffering that this would entail, and then he ends with this: “But among you, it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the son of man came not to be served but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28) In the following of Jesus, to be lifted high means enduring much suffering and persecution. To reach the nations for Christ also means much suffering and persecution. But I am afraid, for many of us, me included, we aren’t quite ready for that type of suffering, and we aren’t quite ready for that type of glory.

By <a href="" target="_self">S. Bullee</a>

By S. Bullee

S. Bullee is a passionate and driven pastor’s kid who struggles to balance life and ministry and understands all too well the struggle to say no. Her prayer for herself and other PKs is to be able to abide instead of to strive and learn to love Jesus instead of just working for Him as a performance. She and her husband are cross-cultural workers, and she is passionate about loving those who have recently moved to their nation and living a life that resembles the grace of Christ, not just the doctrine every PK knows. She desires to bring light to those areas of life that we maybe would rather ignore and open them up to the grace of Christ.