Might Mobilizers Make Good Missionaries?
Some people have told me they felt they wouldn’t be a good missionary, but they could be a good mobilizer. I am not writing to contradict anyone’s calling, but I think we should consider just how much mobilization comprises some missionary roles.
Remember the well-worn saying, “The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.” We all know that no single country’s missionaries will finish the task. Koreans, Filipinos, Nigerians, Ethiopians, South Africans, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, Europeans, Americans, Latinos—to name just a few—are already involved, and each can take the Gospel to places that others find far more difficult.
Moreover, when we get ‘close’ to the unreached peoples—in particular provinces and districts of particular countries—we find that local believers are (nearly) always far more effective than cross-cultural workers, and often can get into places that no one else can. It is nearly impossible, for example, for an expatriate to get into far rural Afghanistan as a missionary (or even as a development worker). Afghani believers are needed.
Stirring unmobilized churches to send workers to unreached places is a key element of the mission task—everywhere. When I travel and work, most of my labor is in the area of mission research, but I am always ready to function as a mobilizer and share the call of the remaining task. I have done so in a number of places throughout Asia.
I most fondly remember a time in East Asia when a number of believers were gathered in a rural area for a leadership training program; I was asked to speak one night on the remaining task. I didn’t especially think myself equal to that challenge, but with a kind and sympathetic translator helping, I spent about an hour sharing my typical Perspectives Lesson 9 talk. (That was the first time I did it without a Powerpoint and discovered how freeing a whiteboard could be. I’ve pretty much done it with a whiteboard ever since.)
To say they reacted strongly to the talk is an understatement. When I finished, they were still talking. An hour later, when I headed to bed, they had transitioned to praying. The next morning, when I got up and headed to breakfast—they were still there. Still praying and weeping. I have no idea at this point of the total result of that night, but I suspect it was strong.
So if you are a mission mobilizer, and you are fine-tuning your gifts in that area, you could play a significant role amongst peoples and places nearer than unreached than you presently are. Of course, there will be all of the normal lessons you’ll need to learn—culture acquisition, understanding how to communicate, linguistic issues, etc. You can’t expect to simply take a presentation aimed at, say, Americans and give it to Japanese with the same results. (I had to adjust mine on the fly.) But if you do all that, you may find your fruit is substantial.