Thursday, January 17, 2013

How can you know?

One of my big editing projects these days is cleaning up contents for AskaMissionary.com. The site gets about 200 visitors a day – great numbers for this niche. Many seem to find it helpful for finding their place in global mission, with various opinions on how to get there from here. The best of the material was polished and published in a book in 2010. The web site, though, did not get all the updates. And, in general, it needs someone to give it a little love. That's where I come in.

Using the book version to guide my revision of the web contents, I’m impressed by the publisher’s thorough edits. Phrases sing. Every word carries its own weight. Well done, Authentic! I'll strive to follow your lead.

Whoever edited the book also tried to translate much of the religious jargon. For example, references to "knowing God has called you" are rewritten to speak of God's leading, direction, or guidance. Does this reduce some of the barriers to service? When I look at the original submissions, I see some contributors felt strongly about the word (and idea of) "calling." What do you think about it?

Some people consider a personal, mystical call from God essential. Others warn against that expectation. Perhaps the best answers take a middle-of-the-road approach. They explain that God leads us in various ways and that each story may be different. I find some of these articles quite challenging and inspiring. I thought you might, too! Consider the following:

Q: How can I know if God is leading me to become a missionary?

A: Ask yourself the hard questions.

Answer from Elisabeth Elliot, who worked with her husband Jim Elliot on translating the New Testament into the language of the Quichua Indians in Ecuador. Later, as a widow, she lived and worked among the Aucas.

Amy Carmichael was the founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship in India. When people wrote to her suggesting that they might like to come and work in India, she would ask three questions:

– Do you truly desire to live a crucified life?
– Does the thought of hardness draw you or repel you?
– Are you willing to do whatever helps most?

Amy established a wonderful home for children who otherwise would have been consigned to temple prostitution. Don't make up your mind that you are going to Africa or to China or to India to do a specific kind of work. In my experience, virtually all missionaries are asked to do many things not in their job description.

When Jim Elliot was considering missions, he didn't know where to go or what to do. But he did have two ideas. So he started corresponding with one missionary in India and another in Ecuador. In view of the information he received, he made a choice – Ecuador. But before deciding, he first did a lot of thinking and praying. It wasn't a wild guess but an act of faith in the God who promises to guide.

Jim used to say, "you can't steer a parked car." It makes sense to move in the direction you believe God is leading – trusting him as a faithful shepherd to lead you in paths of righteousness.

A: No special guidance is necessary.

Answer excerpted from an article by Robert E. Speer, chairman of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in 1901.

If people are going to draw lines of division between different kinds of service, what preposterous reasoning leads them to think that it requires less divine sanction for some to spend his or her life easily among Christians than it requires to go out as a missionary to the unreached?

Is it not absurd to suggest that a special guidance is necessary to become a missionary, but no direction is required to gratify personal ambitions?

There is something wonderfully misleading, full of hallucination and delusion in this business of missionary guidance. With many of us it is not a missionary call at all that we are looking for; it is a shove. There are a great many of us who would never hear a call if it came.

1 comment:

Meagan Fox said...

It's just a calling from God if he wants you to do that thing because He has a plan.

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