If you know me at all, you know I love missionaries. One reason I do is because they always teach me something.
Here are some of the things I've learned from them over the years:
- The world is still lost. I know that truth, of course, but missionaries who weep over nonbelievers remind me that I sometimes take that truth for granted. I don't care about the lost as I should.
- The gospel is costly. I know that, too, in my head, but I don't live among people who face persecution and death every day because they follow Jesus. Many missionaries do.
- You may be not nearly as important as you think you are. I'm just one person in over 7 billion people in the world.
- God works miracles outside my worldview. I don't often see healings and exorcisms. Some missionaries I trust do speak of these kinds of experiences.
- Prayer support really matters. I often call for prayer only when I most need it. Many missionaries survive daily on the wings of prayer.
- Spiritual warfare is more real than I realize. I teach about spiritual warfare, and I've written about the topic. Missionaries on the front lines, though, are the ones who continue to teach me about its reality.
- A pastor's support of missions is critical. Missionaries who've sought opportunities to tell their story to local churches usually learn this truth the hard way: When the senior leader of the church isn't passionate about missions, the church won't be, either.
- American culture is generally busy ... and loud ... and big. I don't think about this stuff until missionaries come back from the field and struggle adjusting. We go nonstop. Some of us don't operate well unless we have noise in the background. We build big church buildings, have big shopping centers and eat big servings at restaurants. We overdo it, frankly.
- We're really family. To be an "aunt" or "uncle" to a missionary kid is to be reminded of the special relationships God gives His followers.
- God always takes care of us. I preach this truth, and I believe it. Somehow, though, it strengthens my faith when I hear it from the family that's given up everything to follow God to the ends of the earth.
What have you learned from missionaries? If you're a missionary, what have you learned from your colleagues?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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