If Not You, Then Who?

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“I wanted to go to those who have never heard of Him, but my parents said it was a crazy idea. It was too dangerous to go to the jungle. I might die. Others could go, but I should focus on building a good career and making money. Others would take care of the unreached. What should I do?”

I was stunned. I had noticed the young man’s troubled expression as I spoke briefly and then fielded questions from a group of college students. Now, as his words spilled out, I realized the depth of his internal conflict.

I felt anger well up within me. His parents called themselves Christians? How dare they crush their son’s desire to serve God? Sending up a prayer for wisdom and tact, I paused before answering.

“First of all,” I began, “The Bible is clear that we are to honor our parents. As a young unmarried man, your first responsibility is to God, and second to your parents. I would never recommend that you disobey your parents unless they contradict God’s commands.” I paused again, struggling to express myself in English after nearly two years of not speaking it. “However, I must also question your parents’ reasoning. Is it dangerous to serve as a missionary in a third-world country? Yes, it is. But does that mean God is unable to protect us as we work for Him? If He is truly all-powerful, then no attack can pierce His protection unless He wills it. And what does it say about our faith if we claim to believe He can save us spiritually, but we don’t trust Him to preserve us physically?

“If I’m serving God where He tells me to go, He has promised to protect me. I cannot be killed unless He allows it. And do you know what? If He allows me to die, then that’s okay. This earthly life is not what we live for. This life is just a few years given to us so we can make our choice of allegiance and prepare ourselves and others for eternal life to come. That doesn’t mean I should be presumptuous and walk into dangerous situations unnecessarily. But if God calls me to do something dangerous, then He will protect me.

“God never promised that our lives here on earth would be untouched by pain and death. That promise is for the life to come. So my life here, as a surrendered servant of God, is a tool in His hands. If He decides the best way to use this tool is to let it expire, then may He be glorified, and may people be saved by my dying! Remember the five missionary men who lost their lives in Ecuador? Through their deaths, an entire tribe came to Christ. And if He lets me die, the next thing I will see is Him returning in glory. So what is there for me to fear? There’s only one thing to fear—becoming disconnected from Him.

“There was a missionary to Papua New Guinea in my parents’ generation who was unmistakably called of God to mission service. The Lord was clearly working through him in PNG. However, PNG is a dangerous place, and after some time, the missionary felt he couldn’t subject his family to the danger any longer. The project was not finished, and abandoning it would do irreparable damage to the work, but he was afraid for his family’s safety, so he left.

“Within months of the family’s return home, one of the children was bitten by a venomous snake while playing under the house. The mother and father jumped into their car to rush the child to the hospital. In their panic, they accidentally ran over their second child, killing him instantly. The first child died of the snakebite a few hours later. Stricken with grief and shock, the mother had a heart attack and died also.

“This is a true story. It is also a difficult story, one I don’t normally tell. I’m not suggesting God killed the man’s family in retribution for him leaving his work. The point is that we can die anywhere at any time, even when we feel safe and secure. But when God asks us to go somewhere dangerous for His sake, He will provide the protection we need to accomplish His purposes. However, if we choose to step outside of His will, we are also choosing to reject His protection.

“Is every Christian called to go to the jungle as a missionary? No. There are plenty of unreached people in urban areas these days. So are all Christians called to reach unreached people groups? Again, no.

“Mrs. White told a story of a young man who felt called to go as a missionary. But just before he was to launch, his father died, and he was forced to take over his father’s business to provide for the family. Years later, he commented to a fellow believer, ‘You know, I work for the Lord 24/7. During the day, in all my business relations, I try to represent Christ and lead people to Him. Then I use my earnings to support a missionary in China who works for the Lord for me while I sleep’ (6T, 29, 30). Mrs. White commended the man for his faithfulness to the Lord and asked why there weren’t more Christians who did the same.

“My friend, maybe you aren’t called to go to a faraway land to lead others to Christ. But you are called to lead others to Christ. This is the primary work of every Christian, as Matthew 28:18-20 makes clear. When you were baptized, you signed on the dotted line agreeing that this would be your work until Jesus returns. Whatever career God may choose for you, whether medicine, foreign missions, pastoring, or truck-driving, it is simply a tool for the grand purpose of bringing hope to a world soon to be destroyed. So use your work as a means to that end, and not as an end in itself.

“However, before you dismiss the idea of mission work, may I point out that I believe God is calling many more people to be missionaries, but they are resisting. When we look at the numbers, it’s apparent that something is not right. There are more than 6,600 unreached people groups in the world. That’s well over 2 billion people who don’t know Christ is offering them eternal life! Yet, less than 1 percent of Christians work among the unreached, so it seems clear to me that many more have been called but are not answering.

“Am I suggesting that all Christians should up and leave for distant lands? No, that would be a disaster. Just like it takes two blades for a pair of scissors to work, it takes those out in the field partnering with those on the home front to get the work done. All I am asking is that we even out the proportions a bit. In order to do that, someone is going to have to answer the call to go.

“My friend, my question to you is this: If not you, then who? Your parents assured you that others would take care of the unreached. What others? If everyone says, ‘Someone else will tell them,’ then no one will ever go, and the unreached will continue to die by the thousands every day, never knowing that Jesus can save them.

“If not you, then who?”

The young man looked at me thoughtfully. I could see that he understood. God had spoken to his heart, and now he had a decision to make. I had no idea what that decision should be. That was between him and God, and I would never think less of him as long as he could look God in the eye and say, “I did what You called me to do.”

Dear reader, maybe you are struggling just like this young man. If so, all I ask is that you honestly wrestle with God. Never ever let fear dictate your decision. Sometimes as you wrestle, God is silent. Just like any good parent, He knows there are times when His children need to make their own decisions. If you prayerfully and honestly seek His will, He will honor your decision. Then you can look your Maker in the eye on that final day and say, “I did what You asked me to do.”


Hi! Another reader wanting to say thanks here.

Elijah, I can relate to your experience well! I also have just finished studying (IT) and have been feeling impressed to go into missionary work. The door hasn’t opened yet and things haven’t worked out as expected, but God has still been leading and I’m so glad we can still claim His promises (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 3:5-6). God bless as you wait to hear His will! 😊

By Brad on October 27 2013, 5:22 am

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