Over the past few weeks I’ve had a number of people ask me, “How do you feel about your kids leaving home and going to the mission field?” My daughter will be serving overseas in about two months. My oldest son (and his new bride) hope to serve in Cambodia in about a year. And our youngest son will be starting at IU this coming fall, which I understand is quite a mission field all of its own.
The tone behind the question is that Laura and I should be sad about our kids not only leaving home but also going so far away. Sure, part of us wishes we could all stay in the same town and be one, big, happy family. We’re parents who love our kids. But we’re also excited for our kids to step into this new season of life where their faith is their own, and they’re embracing God’s call to go and make disciples.
The truth of the matter is that at some point in time we’re all called to leave home and go to the mission field, even if your mission field is right down the street. Many of us tend to think that only a few, special, more-spiritual-than-the-rest-of-us individuals are “called” by God. The rest of us just have a career and go to church.
There are times in Scripture where God gave specific callings to certain individuals for set purposes. God specifically directed the church in Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul “for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). In Acts 8:26, the Holy Spirit called Philip to a specific location on a dusty road to share the gospel.
But there are just as many (if not more) biblical examples of individuals joining the mission of God without a voice from heaven or a clear call to a particular place or people. Timothy joined Paul in ministry, because “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3). Priscilla and Aquila used their tent-making business to work alongside Paul (Acts 18:2-3, 18-26). We read of no special vision or warm-fuzzy moment that led to their decision. They were being faithful with what they had, who they were, the opportunities placed before them, and they trusted that God was leading them.
Don’t wait around for some warm-fuzzy moment before you accept God’s call to join Him on mission. Use wise judgment, godly counsel, and your gifts, talents and skills to go to work in your “mission field,” wherever that may be.
As J. D. Greear says, “When it comes to calling, we don’t need a voice; we have a verse” (Gaining by Losing, 80). Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and that includes the person next door and the employee down the hall.
When more Christians grasp this, they will shift from spectators to participators in the mission of Jesus Christ. And churches will go from gathering audiences to empowering armies.
Are you ready to accept the call?