It’s an exciting time at AFM when new missionary candidates come to orientation and accept calls to cross-cultural mission service. They are direct answers to prayer! Daily we pray for the Lord to send more laborers (Matt. 9:37, 38).
Still, we wish there were hundreds of missionaries where there is now one. We ache for the day when we will stand on the sea of glass singing praises to God. And we want as many people as possible, from every tribe, kindred and tongue, to be with us as we experience the greatest worship service of all time!
So why aren’t more people who sense God’s call applying for mission service? There are a number of reasons very similar to the excuses given in Luke 14. But there is one excuse that is particularly close to my heart—the fear of support raising. Many of our candidates come to orientation with fear and trepidation about asking for money. I understand, because before God straightened me out on this matter, I was full of pride (I’m not going to ask for money!), self-righteousness (shouldn’t they be paying me to be a missionary?) and fear (What will people think?).
Fortunately, God is very patient. He continued to love and draw me to Himself despite my dislike for Berrien Springs, fundraising and a “desk” job. I did not want to end up in an Adventist ghetto, ask for money or be stuck indoors behind a computer screen. “Give me nature or give me death!” could have been my rally cry. But as I (finally) prayed about where God wanted me rather than telling Him what I wanted, He miraculously guided me to AFM. And there began my journey of healing. I never wanted this position, but God wanted me here. Now, some 20 years later, I praise Him for His divine intervention in my life. I get to work with the most amazing people on earth, and I get to help build the kingdom of God!
In retrospect, I always wanted to build the kingdom of God, but I thought it would be through the health message. I was trained as a nurse, attended every natural-remedy seminar I could, and loved bringing people to the Great Physician. However, God has expanded the breadth of my tent (Isa. 54:2) giving me an opportunity to multiply my efforts for Him. When I get to share with missionary candidates all He has taught me about building a support team, it helps more missionaries launch to the field. When I get to visit and pray with AFM partners, I get to encourage them to invest in eternal rewards both locally and internationally. And when I speak in churches about reaching the unreached, people become engaged in missions by praying, giving or going.
During AFM orientation, missionary candidates find Biblical answers to overcome their fears and spend time exploring the perspectives that will either sink or grow their ministry. One of the most important changes in thinking happens when they begin to imagine ways to minister to supporters rather than treat them like ATM machines. To quote one missionary candidate: “Orientation is a life-changing event!”
If you feel God’s call tugging at your heart to be a missionary, allow Him to face your fears. Follow Him. He is able. And if you don’t feel called to go, you can still pray and give. Whatever your missionaries accomplish in the field will be credited to you as well in God’s bookkeeping. What a generous God we serve! Let Him fill your cup, press it down and make it run over with His blessings.