God Gave You Missionary Vision, Not Others Around You – part 23

Missionaries carry the vision alone. This is a sad reality but it is true in most circumstances. When you are finally on the other side of the world and time passes, the people back home forget. Out of sight out of mind. There will always be a handful of those who will not, but according to Jesus’s missiology, we should not be looking back to see if people are still interested in us. (Luke 9:62) Remember God gave you the vision to be a missionary, not to the people around you or those back home.

In the Hispanic mission movement, the statistics are grim. Half of the Hispanic missionaries will lose contact with the local congregation and their monthly support after two years. I also had this same thing happen even though I was sent by a very large North American congregation and was part of a large mission agency. I am not upset or bitter about it because I did what Jesus told me. I put my hand on the plow and did not look back.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

(NIV Luke 9:62 – the NLT is almost word for word)

But we need to consider this. Remote totally unreached people groups are remote and this means there will probably not be communications or you will not be wise trying to communicate home. Nevertheless, the vision to go across the world and walk into the jungle or mountains was given to you, not anyone from your local congregation.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no message from God, the people don’t control themselves. But blessed are those who obey the law. (NIV)

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed are those who heed wisdom’s instruction. (TNIV)

Today, we see a the local congregations out of control. I heard in February of 2022 that half of all Christians have left the local congregations in Latin America. I don’t know what the statistics are for North America, but I would think that they are similar. Why are people leaving the congregations? For lack of vision. For lack of knowing what to do. We are not teaching the Body of Christ about her purpose.

The local congregational leaders do not give the attendants sufficient purpose. They are attendants of services. Well, they got tired of just attending services. So if you are following this blog and reading these articles you will begin to see that God has a purpose and vision for you. He needs you go take the Gospel of Jesus Christ where it has not been heard before. So if the local congregations and mission agencies did not do a very good job of keeping in contact with you before the great resignation, it will be even less interested in your vision in this new stage of Christianity and of missions. (Matthew 24:12)

The verses above are very interesting because they speak of vision and the law or wisdom. In other words, if you have vision, you know the law or, in our case, the teachings of Christ about the great commission. The idea of being a missionary is nothing more than knowing the New Testament and making that wisdom practical by doing it. (Matthew 11:19)

If you want to be a missionary, first you must begin by putting in your time learning the New Testament. The Old Testament is necessary but not until you have a good handle on who Jesus is. Many will tell you that you need to begin from the beginning, but it is not Moses who saves your soul, it is Jesus. You don’t see copies of the Old Testament lying around on nightstands in hotel rooms; you see New Testaments. Get to know Jesus. Every time you read the Old Testament, read the New Testament ten times. Every time you read Paul, read Jesus five times; then, you will have vision. You should read the Old Testament. It is essential; however, vision comes primarily from Christ and what he teaches. We live under the new covenant, not the old. Jesus sent his disciples out preaching what he taught primarily. The disciples went everywhere talking mainly about Jesus, not much about the Old Testament. Follow the Bible Reading Plan.

Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

(NIV Matthew 22:28-29)

Here is the problem: the more vision you get, the more you will be alone. You will have to sacrifice being like all the others. They will sense this and will be distant to you, and you will not be accepted. You carry the vision alone because it is Christ’s vision. Many people know about Christ; fewer know him personally, and even fewer carry his vision. Even fewer act on this vision This vision is not yours, and it definitely is not the vision of the majority of the other Christians.

What is vision, anyway? Vision is something a visionary has. A visionary is one who can picture the future. This is what we usually mean when we say, “Christians have vision,” or when we say, “a missionary has vision.” Basically, having vision means that they see what needs to be done in order to accomplish a goal. They can look ahead and envision the thing being accomplished, and they have the motivation and drive from the Holy Spirit to then do it. Here is the definition: Vi·sion·ar·y, (especially of a person) thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom. “A visionary leader.” Synonyms: inspired, imaginative, creative, inventive, ingenious, enterprising, and innovative. 2. A person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

You are going to have to be creative and have original ideas in order to reach unreached peoples. You are going to have to see it as a real possibility. I believe you start to get vision when you pay close attention to the New Testament. You get vision when you start to pay attention to your surroundings and see the need. The enemy will constantly try to get you focused on yourself and not on your surroundings or others. You get Christ’s vision when you start to pay attention to the need, which is where Christ has never been preached before. There is a need, and I have opened my eyes to it, because I am paying attention to my surroundings, and it is the top priority in the kingdom of God. I am more aware of reality, because I have immersed myself in the New Testament, and I know what God wants and what he lacks.

Missionaries know Jesus because they know the scriptures. Missionaries know what God wants because they know what he lacks in accomplishing his goals. I like to think of vision as something very practical. There is a job to do, and I am not going to wait around to see if someone else does it. There are people groups to be reached, and missionaries have not gotten to them yet for whatever reason. So, I will get out of bed and do something about it, even if I don’t feel like it. I will even do it alone if I have to.

If there is trash on the floor, pick it up. If you see a pile of dishes in the sink, wash them. If you enter a room where you are about to teach and see that everything is in disarray, straighten it up. If chairs need to be folded, fold them. If the floor is dirty, mop it. If you see that the toilet paper is not on the holder, put it on. Take note of your surroundings and change them. Get things in order. If the research on the unreached people groups in your country is a mess, clean it up. If no one knows if there are any Christians in a certain people group, get out there and find out for yourself. Many countries in the world have Christians that are unaware of the state of their own people groups. If you are reading this and your country needs research done, go do it. This is good missionary training. If you walk into an unknown situation to look for the presence of Christians and there are no Christians, God will open the doors for you.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

(NIV John 4:35)

You open your eyes and take a look around. Don’t even think about what others are doing. Don’t think twice about waiting until others get the vision. If they don’t have it by now, they will probably never get it. Especially don’t wait until others have your specific vision. Don’t worry about whether your church or pastor has the vision. If you wait on others to get your vision, you will be waiting forever.

If you have a heart for remote unreached peoples in China, and your fiancé has a heart for remote unreached peoples in India, one of you will have to change their vision or you will have to look for another fiancé. If you have a heart for remote unreached peoples in China, and your fiancé doesn’t want to be a missionary, go alone if you cannot find anyone else to go with you. God will provide someone along the way. He wants us going two by two. Don’t wait around until you find another fiancé. Go and do the work. If you come across a candidate for a spouse, great, but, if not, see 1st Corinthians chapter seven. Be content with the state of relationship you are in when you were saved. God gave you the vision to be a missionary. He did not give it to your parents, nor to your pastor, nor to your local churches members. He gave it to you! Carry it with or without them. God gave you a clear perspective on the situation, a hunger to know the truth, and a practical view of the world. God opened your eyes to see what was going on around you. God allowed you to see the need and gave you the desire to do something about it. Not everyone knows that China has hundreds of unreached people groups, but you do. So do something about it.

God gave the vision to you, not to your family, pastor, friends, or fiance

You could spend all your time staying home trying to convince other people that they need to go to the unreached people groups in China, but you will be wasting your time. You have the vision, so it is you who will have to give an account to God as to why you did or did not do something about it. God opened your eyes, not your pastor’s eyes, and so you must do something about it. God opened your eyes, not the eyes of your family or church members. It is not your job to convince them. If you have to spend more than a week trying to convince your pastor that you need to go to a remote unreached people group, he is not going to get it.

Even if you have to carry this vision alone, does it really matter? The others don’t come into play here. This blog is filled with concepts telling you that you don’t need your pastor, your church, or a mission agency. The great commission is not dependent on any two parties; it is dependent on the one individual who has the vision. Once you know what you need to do, go ahead and look for someone to go with you. If no one shows up, God will provide along the way.

If your pastor and local congregation are behind you, that’s great; if not, no problem. The reality is that, if you want to go to remote unreached people groups, there is about a fifty/fifty chance that you are alone in your vision or will end up alone eventually. Jesus knew that he needed to go to the cross, and he went alone.
If no one else quite has the vision you do, it is likely God is requiring you to do it. If no one else can quite see the thing being done in the future, you had better do it yourself.

I have met a few people who were trying to get other people to go be missionaries instead of themselves. Do it yourself, even if you have to do it unaccompanied. It might be that no one else cares enough about it, but now you are thinking about them and what they care about. Resenting them is only going to take away your joy and distract you. There is a lot of talk these days about teams and unity and doing things with others. Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two. I recently heard of a team of about twenty people going to the same place in Nepal. Whatever happened to two-by-two? It sounds good to the ears that we have these large missionary teams, but Jesus didn’t think it was wise. Go two-by-two, if at all possible. This is what Jesus taught. I always travel with someone whenever I can find someone to go with me. If you cannot find anyone, go alone, and get your companion along the way.

There are examples in the New Testament of disciples going alone, but it is not the teaching of Christ. Once you start planning seriously, you might find someone else catches the vision. God has prepared you to do this thing, and you need to do it. You get it; others don’t. You are the one who is willing to sacrifice for it. Once you get the vision deep inside you, and there is no stopping you, you will have to face a different kind of battle: distractions.

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

(NIV Hebrews 3:1)

Once you have really gotten into your New Testament, then you need to get into your unreached people group information. The clarity of the vision will come quickly. Don’t get confused by all the conflicting information. I will help you make sense of the confusion in another section on this blog. If you want a good source of information that has merged the major sources of people group information in one place, visit Etnopedia.

Once you have firmly decided to take action, the distractions come heavily

Your greatest problem will not be your lack of vision or motivation; it will be the distractions. You will have to battle against them. You will have to recognize them for what they are, and this is almost as hard as battling them. Some of these distractions will come in the form of criticism. Move on, because the majority of all your critics are not going to do anything about what they are criticizing you about. Basically, they are disqualified from being your critics, because they are not a part of the solution. You carry the vision alone, and if you can just carry it forward one more step today, you will be further ahead in just a few months.

I was talking to a missionary who was born in India and asked him what he suggests I do in order to become a missionary. He said, “Read your Bible all that you can now because there will come a day when you are too busy doing the work and you won’t have the same amount of time.” I agree somewhat with what he told me, but he will only be right if you have read the Bible all you can before you go to the mission field. If you are not on the mission field yet, spend at least four or five hours in the New Testament every day as I suggest in the Bible Reading Plan. Only then will you be able to get by with less, once you are on the field. On the field, you will not have five hours to spend in the Bible every day, so get all you can now. You will have to know who Jesus is in order to convince Muslims and Hindus to turn to Christ. Most missionary candidates spend four or five hours a day in things that don’t matter, thinking that God will open doors for them in unreached people groups. You had better read your New Testament instead of watching that movie or game.

For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

(NIV Acts18:28)

If you follow the guidelines on this blog, you will be going to a people group under 25,000 in population, which means most Christians will have never heard of them. You will need to get some specialized training for Bible translation, which requires about a year. Note: You do not need full traditional Bible translation training. This might distract or hinder you from doing your job. Going away for a year of training means that you will be away from your hometown before you go to the mission field. This also means that you will be out of sight and out of the mind of your people back home. After a year, they may not remember much about you and your vision. In many cases, it’s not a problem of remembering as much as caring. People who are deeply engrossed in a system built to keep them ineffective for extending the kingdom of God are constantly bombarded with activity, information, and problems or situations in their own little worlds. They forget, or stop caring about you and your vision because you are buried at the bottom of a long list of worries, cares, and the deceitfulness of riches along with the long list of social posts. (Mark 4:19) Being away for your training will put more distance between you and them. Again you will be alone in your vision. Below I will propose a way for you to get this training online.

It could actually be to everyone’s advantage if you just go, and don’t tell anyone about it. Go without noise or notice and by stealth not having a going away party is actually the full sense of the words Jesus spoke to his disciples. If you are going to closed countries, I would not tell anyone anything at all. Remember to remove your photos from all Internet sites and social networks. They have digital face recognition and have your face print on file. It won’t be long before governments will use your face print and computers programs to recognize those with activity on the Internet associated with Christianity or missionary work. Once other governments get these systems in the airports, entry points, and city streets, you can be identified, flagged, and located. Also, remove your photos from others’ social pages. It will make you feel all alone and disconnected, but you might as well get used to it now. It is just one more part of the normal life that you the missionary will have to sacrifice.

When you have been in your remote people group for a few years you will understand that being alone in your vision is a temporary thing. God compelled you to go to them to lead them to a discipleship process in Christ. They will become your new friends, companions, and possibly that other person that needs to go everywhere with you. In both situations where I started discipline and pastoring, it was not long before I had my companion who went house to house with me or traveled with me to other unreached villages. I did not find either one of them in my hometown, local congregation, or mission agency. I found them on the field.

My missionary pastors always told me that I would find my wife on the mission field doing what I was doing. They were correct. It seems impossible but God is very good at finding the other person we need to accompany us along on the journey.

wife with indigenous woman

This photo is of my wife a few years ago. She has gone with me into very dangerous situations. She has been in tribes where the locals were plotting to kill the Christians. She was also key in developing the other half of the ministry that missionaries need which is practical Bible translation training. In February of 2022, we are planning on getting this training online in English, It currently is in Spanish and has a hundred and twenty students taking it. Once we get it into English you will find a link on this site. We hope to have it done before 2023.

Steps to getting a clearer vision to get into remote unreached people groups.

  1. Follow the Bible Reading Plan (4 to 6 hours per day)
  2. Go through the Christian Leadership for Mission series thoroughly
  3. Go through the Missiology of Christ series thoroughly
  4. Visit the Etnopedia to choose five totally unreached people groups fairly close together
  5. Come back to this website looking for the Bible Translation training for Missionaries
  6. Don’t worry if no one else gets the vision, but look for someone who will follow these steps with you.
  7. Make a disciple even if they are not sure they will go with you.
  8. Try to stay focused and not read other Christian mission books. Read your New Testament.
  9. Do not tell anyone where or which people groups you are going to.
  10. Remove all traces of your presence on social networks and the Internet.
  11. Learn some skills that are valuable in rural remote areas.
  12. Get out of debt. If you can, save the money for your plane ticket.
  13. Get to know your mission field. Study all you can. Make a scrapbook with photos, maps, town names. You won’t be taking this with you, you need to learn it before you go.
  14. Get into shape, start eating right and get enough sleep. Stay out of stressful situations.
  15. Form a plan, put dates and make goals, God directs your steps.
  16. You will be offered money, a high-paying job, or that potential wife you have been looking for will show up and she won’t want to go, (or husband if you are a woman). Don’t let that distract you. Let them go. This temptation to marry a person who has no missionary vision has disqualified thousands of missionary candidates.
  17. This is a hard one. I would not tell anyone what I was doing for several reasons:
    1. In most cases, they will try to talk you out of it. If they are happy for you great but then the distractions will start to come heavier.
    2. In most cases, they will not think much of it or it will fade and they will minimize it and this brings discouragement to you. They will end up discouraging you.
    3. They will have all kinds of doubtful questioning.
    4. They will want to complicate it with modern missiology or tell you what to do when they have no idea what they are talking about.
    5. If they do know about missions it is likely they are contaminated with all the modern missiology that has not worked well. Thousands of people groups are evidence of this.
    6. The more people you tell, the more you involve all the negative mental and spiritual activity that surrounds them.
    7. Even if they support your ministry, it in most cases is temporary and it will not be of any long-term consequence.
    8. In the few cases that you think telling a close friend or family member or leader might have a positive reaction, I would take a different approach.
  18. If you think that someone might be very interested and very supportive of your vision, ask them a few questions first.
    1. “What do you think of someone going to a remote area in a hostile or closed country to do long-term mission work?” If they respond very positively and are supportive ask:
    2. “OK, what do you think about doing this kind of missionary work, when there is no way for the missionary to communicate back home? Or they should not be communicating back home?” If they respond very positively and are supportive ask:
    3. “Great, What would you think if I told you that I am thinking about doing this?” If they respond very positively and are supportive ask:
    4. “What would you think about going with me?
  19. If they respond positively to all four questions, start to go through this list with them!
  20. If you are fortunate to find this person, don’t tell anybody what you both are going to do.