By Pat Bernshausen
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:26-31)
When I think about missions these are some of the verses that come to my mind. I know there are other verses that may be quoted more frequently and that there are many other portions of scripture that pertain to a believer’s call to missions. Although these verses may seem unrelated, they fit together easily for me.
Our Lord Jesus tells us in Mark 16 that we must go. It’s not a suggestion or a request – it’s a clear command to His disciples that we should consider it our job to go out and preach the gospel to all people. What really impresses me about the passage in Acts is the example of Philip. In preceding verses we find Philip preaching some awesome revival services where many people were being saved and baptized. Then he begins the return trip to Jerusalem, preaching all along the way. However, God has another plan for Philip – a plan to send him in an unexpected direction to minister to a person of another race and culture. You know, had I been Philip, I might have been tempted to say, “Whoa! Wait a minute Lord! You wanted us all to go to Jerusalem, right? Please don’t confuse me; I’m just getting the hang of following the Spirit’s leading now. And really, Lord, there’s nothing out there in the middle of the desert!” But no! What did Philip do? The Scripture says he “got up and went.” He heard the Spirit speak and he obeyed- it was that simple!
I will never cease to marvel at the fact that God doesn’t need any of us to do the work that He has ordained. Yet He chooses to use us, or rather, to include us in what He is doing in the lives of others around the world. Whoever first asserted that God uses “cracked pots” really hit the nail on the head, because none of us is without flaw, nor is worthy to serve Him. So what must we do to earn such a privilege? As believers, we must simply make ourselves available to God. We don’t have to be spiritual giants, long-time Sunday School teachers, or pastors. We just have to be willing to be obedient, as Philip was.
The temptation as singles might be to say that we’re not ready. Perhaps a mission trip is something that is on the agenda for us after we’ve found a mate, finished college, or after our children are older. Maybe we’re planning to go when we are more secure financially, or when we’ve at least mastered the art of being single and being content in it. Actually, as singles, we are in a season of our lives that often affords us more freedom to follow the call of Christ to go and spread the gospel to all creation. Philip didn’t make excuses when the command was clear, and neither should we.
The fact is that participating in a mission trip (even a short-term trip of 10-14 days) will result in blessings that we could never have imagined. In exchange for your investment of time and money, you will enjoy the privilege of seeing lives changed and futures altered. You will be blessed by the young lady who thought she was saved, but as she listened to you share the gospel with her neighbor, she realized that she had never really trusted the Lord with her whole life- she was still trying to be in control of things. Nothing will have ever seemed as sweet to you as the hug she gives you. You will welcome her into God’s family as both of you weep with joy.
The blessings continue as you walk daily through villages with brothers and sisters in Christ who have sometimes sacrificed much more than you to be there. Christians in other countries know what real persecution is. Yet, they will give up two weeks of their own lives to minister side-by-side with you. They will come out, rain or shine, with nursing babies, suffering from illness, and sometimes in spite of the very recent death of a loved one; because they understand what an honor it is to serve the Lord. You will be humbled by their faithfulness and perseverance.
Nothing can compare with the overwhelming joy you will experience as you watch men and women who have never heard the story of Jesus give their lives over to Him! You will wonder at the child you met along the roadside who just accepted Jesus as her Savior, and is now leading you by the hand to her village so that you can tell others about Him. You will be moved to tears by the young man who insists on being told how his relationship with the Lord will grow before he has even prayed to accept the Savior. You will know real joy as you see the children dance and sing about Jesus. The friendships you make with brothers and sisters on the mission field will keep them near in your heart and mind for the rest of your life.
God has an incredible plan for our lives, and it includes sharing Him with others. It is our responsibility and privilege. We should all find ways to minister within our communities and surrounding areas. But some of us will be called to minister in locations around the world, in cultures that are different from ours, and in situations that we could never have dreamed of. Be assured that the blessings far outweigh the risks of such ministry. Remember, fellow believers, that when the Lord calls us to go, He equips us and He leads the way! Will you step out, in faith, and let Him lead you?