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|"A man's heart plans his way,|
But the Lord directs his steps."
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What qualifications does a missionary need?
What does anyone need to qualify as a missionary? Is a certain level of training needed? What about experience?
When it comes to cross-cultural missions (that's the way we're using the word "missionary" here), there certainly are qualifications that are helpful. A missionary needs to be adaptable and teachable. A missionary needs to be able to apply God's Word to specific real-life situations. A missionary needs the ability to show love across cultural boundaries. There's no doubt that training and mentoring is needed, and it's too bad that many missionaries don't realize how unprepared they are until it's too late.
In the end, though, I think it really comes down to one thing. Has God called you to be a missionary? God's call is the qualification
Now this concept is very important to understand properly. It recognizes that people who look great in the eyes of others may not be qualified in God's eyes. No matter how educated, talented, experienced and friendly a person may be, only God knows what's in their heart. At the same time, people who look like they'd never make it on the mission field can change the world when God is with them.
In the life of a missionary, times can get tough. The results of their work may not be visible to them. When our work seems to be "in vain", we can hold on to the fact that God has brought us here. The call of God may be the only thing that keeps us going some days.
But there's a danger here. The danger is misunderstanding the concept of God's call. I firmly believe that there are many many people that are staying home that should actually be on the mission field. Here are some important things to remember:
1. The Great Commission is for all of us. We are all responsible, both as a Church and individually, to see that the Gospel reaches everyone. All believers are called to do everything they can to bring people everywhere into a loving relationship with God. In this sense, we are all called. All are called to sacrifice, to pray, to love.
2. We tend to come up with strange ideas of what God's call is, and then ignore Him when He doesn't call us in the way we expect.
I don't know many people who saw mysterious writing on the wall, or who had other dramatic, obvious "calls". (Of course, even if a call is dramatic, we still find ways to write it off!) Certainly, there are some. But God leads us in many other more subtle ways. That, of course, is a whole other subject.
I believe, however, that if we have truly given our lives to God - all of our lives -, if we're willing to go anywhere and do anything that He asks, if we are allowing God's Spirit to work on us where we are, then He won't leave us in the dark. He will guide us, and show us what part we are to play in this Church-wide adventure of missions.
Some verses to consider:
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