What Is A Missionary To Remote Unreached People Groups? – part 4

What is a missionary? Please leave behind all your preconceived ideas about missionaries. You may come to find that you are one.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God”.

(NIV, 2 Corinthians 5:20)

Paul refers to mission work as an “ambition,” and “striving.” Ambition: a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. Strive: to make great efforts to achieve or obtain something. In Christian circles, these terms are negative; however, if we take them from the standpoint that “Christ is in us, giving us a strong desire, etc.,” they may be considered positive.

“It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation”.

(NIV, Romans 15:20)

The term “missionary,” doesn’t exist in the Bible. It is a term Christians use but was derived from the military term “mission.” The definition of mission is: a specific task with which a person or a group is charged – a definite military, naval, or aerospace task, a bombing mission, or a space mission. However, the mission of God, or the great commission, of Jesus Christ is to preach the Gospel to all the ethnos. This requires that we go where it has not yet been preached. Does it make any sense to keep preaching the Gospel to ethnos that have already heard, especially when there are so many who have not yet heard? Does it make sense that thousands and thousands of Christians are staying home in places over saturated with the Gospel when there are so many places that have no Christians at all?

“Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you”.

(NIV, 2 Corinthians 10:15-16)

Missionary, in the truest since of the word, is just a Christian. If you know it or not, when you became a Christian, you were charged with a specific task. This Christian’s task is to extend the Gospel of Christ. It is to take his message into parts of the world where people do not have access to it. When my wife and I teach young people about missionaries, we always emphasize that they are just Christians that go where there are no other Christians or churches and where there are no Bibles translated. Unreached peoples are remotely situated away from access to other Christians who can disciple them; enter the mission. Many of them are so remote that they are in total darkness: there is no light around, because there is no missionary. Jesus is the light, and he is in you, and the nature of that light is to shine in the darkness. So, naturally, a Christian wants to go, unless the mechanism is slowly putting out the flame.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men”.

(NIV, John 1:4)

Cross-cultural missionary is a term commonly used to refer to such a person who goes to another culture. Cross-cultural missionaries are simply ordinary Christians who are extending God’s light in areas where it does not exist, it just happens to be in another culture. It is incorrect to believe that a missionary who goes to another culture is somehow special. Christians will have to go to other cultures; that is where the darkness is. Business and military people do it all the time, and we don’t consider them special. Culture is simply something that has to be crossed and adjusted to. The view of many modern missionaries is that it is special when a missionary goes to another culture. This is incorrect. Going into another culture does not require a definite call. It requires an action of obedience to the written word of God. All Christians are obligated, as ones with the light, to go where there is no light, and this happens to be into other cultures.

The following is a statement from the former U.S. Center for World Mission now called Frontier Ventures: “Some unreached peoples are also unengaged—meaning there are no known believers even trying to reach them. Unless a group of believers chooses to engage them, they may never have an opportunity to hear the Good News. Identifying—much less crossing—cultural and spiritual barriers to find redemptive bridges is an extraordinary challenge and one of the main reasons that over 7,000 people groups remain unreached—and many of these unengaged.”

Notice that they did not use the word “missionary,” or “missions;” instead, they used the word “believers.” Their number of 7,000 unreached people groups considers those groups with less than 2% evangelical Christians, meaning that there could be small churches or missionaries among them. I will explain this in detail later. Just remember that “remote” unreached people groups have 0% Christians and no missionaries. Unengaged means between 0% and 2% Christians and no missionaries. Remote means 0% Christians and no missionaries.

It is common to hear, “But there are so many unsaved people right here, where we live.” Yes, it is true, but there are so many Christians right here, in your church, who are not ever going anywhere outside their own culture. They will certainly stay and can evangelize them, freeing you up to go. Most importantly, all those unsaved people living right here have all kinds of access to the Gospel, mainly through other Christians, who should be out there sharing Christ with them. God’s plan to bring Christ’s message to all ethnos, his return and the end of the material world, is found throughout the Bible. It is not a missionary call; it is a mandate for the entire body of Christ in the world. Every Christian has been tasked. Every Christian has the light. Every Christian is a missionary.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”.

(NIV, Genesis 1:27)

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

(NIV Genesis 1:28)

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 – So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 – That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

(NIV Genesis 11:7-9)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 – “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 – I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

(NIV Genesis 12:1-3)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah 2 – that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 – May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.

(NIV Psalms 67:1-3)

He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

(NIV Isaiah 49:6)

And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

(NIV Matthew 24:14)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

(NIV Mark 16:15)

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

(NIV Revelation 7:9-10)

These are just a few verses on the Biblical basis for missions. They are clear that God has a purpose throughout the Bible that he is doing in this world. His goal and purpose is to make himself known to all people in the world, you can call them people groups, clans, tribes, languages, or nations. All people need to know that Jesus is the Christ and his death and resurrection and ascension are for all. If we Christians get involved in what God is doing, you can call us missionaries if you like. But in the end, we are all in Christ and we all have the obligation to do what needs to be done.

The fact that we have added the name missionary, has caused much damage to the spread of the Gospel. If you are a Christian, you can get involved, you can do your part, and become aligned with what God is already doing. He is waiting on us. Some will use their theology and their doctrine to excuse themselves talking about the sovereignty of God or the calling of God. And that is the easy way out. I will try to write another blog post addressing why the sovereignty of God is no excuse.

I have also met many people saying bluntly, “I am just too selfish to do any kind of missionary work”. I would imagine that in their minds they really don’t believe that. If they do, I honestly don’t know how they intend to answer to God about their selfishness.

Are all Christians missionaries?

Yes, all people who are born again into Jesus Christ are given the mandate to make disciples of all the nations. Jesus states very clearly here.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

There are three things Jesus is telling us to do, they are commands. If anyone (whoever) wants to be His disciple, must deny themselves, be willing to die for the spread of the gospel, and follow him. Those are three things we all must do if we are true disciples (learners) of Jesus Christ. If we are just churchgoers then, well, we can make statements like, “I’m just too selfish, I’m not called or God will take care of it, with my help or not.”

I have been recently teaching our missionary candidates that it is a matter of how we interpret the Bible and how we perceive God.

If you have not followed the first instruction “deny self”, you will interpret the Bible and God from a self-centered perspective (the big person on the left). You perceive that God and the Bible are about you. And God exists to bless you primarily. You are the center of the universe, not Got. And therefore anything that you do not like about Christianity, you will find a way to theologize it out of your perception of what Christianity is. You are on the throne of your life and you decide what you will and will not do with your life. It is all about you. You are not called to do anything that would take you out of your comfort zone.

On the other side of the diagram (right), you see a small person who has denied himself. He interprets the Bible and God from a God-centered universe. The Bible is for all Christians and it says what it says. When Jesus says we must, he means we must. If we want to follow him, we must forget about what we want.

Christianity is so far behind in its simple work of making disciples that it will now take people willing to go into other cultures and situations that are very different than our own. Are they people? Yes. Are they people who need to know Christ? Yes. Do they live in other parts of the world? Yes. Does this matter to God? No. It matters not to God that they live in countries where children carry automatic weapons and poverty and sickness are a normal part of life. They need Jesus and someone has to go into their situation and make disciples of them. Any Christian will do. You can call them a missionary if you like. It will make you feel a little better if you have convinced yourself that you are not one. But in the end, those people are still without Christ.

You are a Christian, and therefore you are a missionary. If you need a calling, consider this your call.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God”.

(NIV, 2 Corinthians 5:20)