By Augustin Longa
WHO IS A MISSIONARY?
Being a missionary is far beyond the fact of just receiving the call of witnessing Christ to others. Preaching the Gospel of Jesus-Christ is a duty of every genuine Christian. A missionary is one sent across geographical and / or cultural boundaries to proclaim the gospel. If it is so, not every Christian is or should be a missionary. How then will I know if I personally am to be one of those sent out as a missionary, and how can I counsel others who are asking the same question?
Each part of the body of Christ was created with the ability to fulfill the purpose for which it was made for. Going through these qualifications will help individuals know their real stand as far as missionary work is concerned.
QUALIFICATIONS OF A MISSIONARY
- Spiritual qualifications
Missionary work is a spiritual work and we should expect that the most important qualifications for doing it are spiritual.
- Genuine conversion: It will be so abnormal to go out there with the aim of preaching the good news of freedom in Jesus while your own life is still portraying the bad news of condemnation in Satan.
- Spirit-Filled: Missionaries must be filled with the Holy-Spirit so that the fruit of the spirit is evident in their lives, especially Love. They must be able to love and act compassionately to people who are very different from them in age, socially and ethnically even when those people can not benefit them in any way. Spirit filled missionaries are consumed by a deep burden for the lost.
- Gifted for Missionary work: Missionaries must have spiritual gifts useful for missionary work. Peter Wagner** has observed in certain people what he called “the missionary or cross-cultural gift”. This gift, which acts like a sort of missiological DNA, permits Christians to use their other gifts effectively in cultures different from theirs. People with this gift find it exciting to learn new customs, try new foods and learn new languages. They don’t feel unsecured even when they find themselves far away from their relatives.
In addition to “the Cross-cultural gift”, missionaries also need other gifts such as Teaching, Evangelism, Administration, Wisdom, Miracles and Healing which they use in new cultures to build up the body of Christ there. The ministry gifts mentioned above should be evident in the life of every prospective missionary right from his/her home environment before they step out for missions.
- Strong Prayer Life: Even Jesus spent nights in prayer to secure the power to perform his work. How much more do we need to do it? Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers and this must be destroyed through consistent prayers before they can believe. Missionaries usually face many trials and obstacles of all sorts. They need to stay personally closed to Christ in other to know his mind and co-operate with him on daily basis.
- A Servant Spirit: God can only bless the work of men and women who are realistic enough to be humble. Missionary work is sacrificial. Missionaries don’t belong to themselves, but are slaves to Christ. They have no rights before him. They so much love Christ that for his sake, they will gladly make themselves servants of other people, always putting others needs (especially their spiritual needs) before their own comfort (I Cor 9:19).They can afford to do this because they so trust their father’s love and care.
“If you give God everything, He gives you everything in return”
In summary, missionaries must have a strong, balanced and growing spiritual life. They seek to be like Jesus. They are controlled by four great passions: Love for God, Love for the Word of God, Love of prayer and love of other people (especially the unreached).
2. Physical Qualifications
Prospective missionaries should be in good health and strong enough to do the work. Missionaries who are always sick may not go forward very quickly. Although we strongly believe, as Christians, that a medical report cannot always predict a person’s future health, the missionary should also be able to feel that he / she can do the work required while trusting God for divine intervention. People like Hudson Taylor (China Inland Missions), Mark Zouk and the wife (New Tribes Missions: Missionary among the Mok people in Papua New Guinea, the former Iryan-jaya) were all rejected from conventional mission agencies because of their health challenges. They kept on going, notwithstanding their “poor health”, relying on God’s special touch and grace. Hudson Taylor died of old age living behind him the foundations of Modern Missions. Mark Zouk will never be forgotten for the success he had by implementing the Chronological Bible Teaching Method in reaching out to the unreached (You will have more on him in the film “e Taow”, Produced by New Tribes Missions).
3. Educational Qualifications
The more education the missionary has, the better, so long as all that education does not quench the zeal for the work. More important than formal education is an enquiring, creative mind, ready to learn new things and think new ideas. Any professional training will be sooner or later useful in missionary work. God does not waste anything.
Beside general education, all missionaries need a sound working knowledge of the Bible. They need to know its content (where to get what). They need to know its teachings and doctrines. They need to know how to study the Bible for themselves and how to teach it to others. All this must go together with a solid commitment to obey the word of God in everything. Attending a Bible institute before getting into missions is a great assess. However, the only way to become thoroughly rooted in Bible is personal quiet time backed-up with systematic Bible reading and regular Bible studies. Rick Warren’s book: Twelve Dynamic Bible Study Methods for Bible Study is one of the most reliable materials you may need for your personal Bible studies.
Missionaries need an extra training in the subject of missions. They should know both the methods and theories so that they understand their role in the overall strategy of world evangelization. They will become effective faster in a new culture if they have some training in Language acquisition and cultural anthropology. Discipleship and Missionary Training Institute-DMTI, the training arm of CDMF, offers a twelve (12) months Diploma Course in Missions and Inter-cultural Studies that has helped so many people to find their way in World Evangelism.
4. Character Qualifications
There are some aspects of missionaries characters that qualify the, to be good ones. If a person is fearful, psychologically unsecured or immature, he/she will surely cause problems in the work. A good missionary should be:
- Able to work harmoniously in a spirit of co-operation with others.
- Willingness to take orders and agree to group decisions;
- Able to think carefully before doing things (good understanding of goal setting and time management);
- Emotionally stable (not easily discouraged or depressed: II Tim 1v7). Any person who does not fulfill this requirement will constitute a potential danger for the work. Such a person can easily drop out of the work exactly when the team needs him the most;
- Able to quickly adapt to changes;
- Not easily offended. A missionary in a new culture always makes mistakes that make the local people laugh at him/her. Having a good sense of humor and humility is very useful in such situations;
- Able to patiently endure hardship. Most of the unreached people groups in Africa live in very remote areas and under hard conditions. Being a missionary among them can be very challenging.
No prospective missionary can be perfect in all these areas. The aim of these lesson is to help us evaluate the real coast of the missionary calling so that we can identify your weaknesses as far as missions is concerned, then work and pray to see them improve. Many have left and are still leaving their fields because they lack some of these qualities.
- Are you born again? Write in not more than a page how you got concerted.
- Now that you know who a missionary is, mention four (4) differences between a Reverent Minister of the Gospel and a Missionary.
- Based on this lesson, do you think God is calling you into missions? Why?
- Has God pointed any area of your life He would like you to improve? Clearly elaborate on what he told you and write down the practical steps he wants you to take right now.
If you feel like sharing any answer to the above questions, please mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org