GG od is bigger than any of our excuses for non-involvement”
– Jan Paulsen
Seventh-day Adventist world church
I believe that many Adventists from developed countries are sleeping on the Great Commission. To reach the ends of the earth and all its in-between places will require more of us than we are giving now – it will require more missionaries. It will require us to actually “Go, therefore!”
Many express interest in foreign mission service – especially former student missionaries – but few go. Even schools with a strong mission emphasis seem to produce few missionaries.
The barriers are numerous: debt, health problems, obligations to care for family, lack of paid positions, lack of retirement benefits or insurance, societal pressure to buy a nice home, the possibility of “falling behind” professionally, fear for safety and about the unknown, and the contention that missionaries may be more effective and needed at home. But do any of these reasons exempt us from, “Go, ye, therefore”?
All Christians have “a call” to be missionaries of the Gospel. The trick is knowing to where we are called. To borrow an illustration from Dr. Thomas Hale, a missionary surgeon to Nepal: if I find a group of men holding a heavy log – four men holding one end and one man alone holding the other – on which end of the log will my help be most needed? Foreign missions are the one-man end of the log. It is convenient enough to say we will be missionaries in Anytown, USA, Australia or Germany, but is that where we are most needed?
Though regional workers must certainly help share the gospel in their own areas, there are not nearly enough of them. The truth is that the so-called Western nations are no longer sending out more missionaries than the majority world. Matthew 9:37, 38 says, “…the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” In the places that I have worked for the last five years (Ethiopia, South Sudan and Liberia), the regional workers carry a heavy load and pray earnestly for missionaries.
If you are reading this and feel like you are starting to remember something important, it’s possible you’ve been distracted from your call. Pray about it. Meditate on it. Ask to be led to a ministry that desperately needs the talents you have been given. Look for ways to extricate yourself from barriers that keep you from honoring a call. Like it says in Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the place of your tent…do not hold back; lengthen your cords.”
Don’t apply as a missionary for the security or prestige (it may not be worth the cost of your Yellow Fever vaccination). Go because you want to eat mangoes and learn obscure dialects from your new neighbors. Go because you remember how you felt listening to recordings of Adventist Missionary Eric B. Hare about the Yellow Mission Truck and the Fuzzy-Wuzzies with their sweet potatoes (plunk…plunk plunk…plunk!). Go because you want to be part of something sustainable (i.e. eternal).
Go – even for a short time – because you must answer the call.
—A native of the United States, Becky Carlton Dice is a nursing consultant at Seventh-day Adventist Cooper Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. She previously served in Ethiopia and Sudan.