Our Generation Training Center
As the Director of the Our Generation Training Center, I have the privilege to have a small part in equipping young men and women for successful service on the mission field. And today, I would like to deal with who should consider going to the mission field. I believe with all my heart that if Jesus were here right now, He would urge more young men to give up their dreams and aspirations and go the foreign field. I have seen countries like China with millions of people and not much work going on evangelically, let alone enough work is done to keep up with the current population. I have seen “meeting places”—what would be “called” evangelical churches—in Africa that have been infiltrated with a perversion of the gospel. The need around the world most definitely is GREAT, even DIRE, and we need young men who would give their lives for the sake of spreading the gospel on the foreign field.
That being said, here is the shocker: I don’t think you need to apply! I don’t believe that you should fill out your application to the OGTC or get with Jeff Bush and apply to be a missionary with Vision Baptist Missions. Why should you not apply? These past four years that I have been the Director of the OGTC, I have seen young men come and go. Some young men have a lot of “burden.” Others are extremely “spiritual,” but it seems like a good majority of students leave for one reason or another. I can tell you story after story of guys who have had a lot of support and encouragement of others who claim they had no support, of some who had given up scholarships at a university, and of others who were doing nothing. The one thing they all had in common was that they quit. I have not just seen young men come and go; I have seen a lot of young men come and go. In the beginning, it hurt to see the students leave. Four years later, it still hurts to see them leave. My intentions here are not to be crude, rude, or manipulative. I would instead save you heartache and save me some, too. I do hope, though, there are and will be some who will prove me wrong, so here are some facts to help you count the cost before you apply.
What kind of men shouldn’t apply?
Unteachable men need not apply. There is nothing more frustrating than a person who knows it all. If you already know how to be a success on the mission field, then, by all means, please do not apply. We are looking for teachable men and women who have a hunger for God. Imagine the repercussions that a young soldier going through boot camp would face if he were to tell his drill instructor that he already knew how to run and didn’t need to run with others. Think of how ludicrous it would be for a premed student to tell his advisor he was ready for surgery because he never lost a game of Operation as a child. Though these extreme illustrations are silly, more often than not, young men training for the foreign field, or even those already on the field, display the same kind of arrogance and lack of teachability. We are taught in Proverbs 13:18 that “poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” You have to be teachable!! You have to be teachable if you are going to be a success. You will have to humble yourself and say, “I don’t know.” You must become a student if you want to be a missionary who does more than just exists in another country. Jesus didn’t choose young men who were in Rabbinical schools—the seminaries of their time. Instead, He chose twelve ordinary men and taught them many things.
Quitters need not apply. You can’t be quitter!! If you are continually quitting, you should not apply. The job of a missionary is way too important and way too demanding. In ministry, the option to quit will present itself many times. If you are already a quitter, the temptation to quit and likely outcome will be disastrous for you. You need to take an honest look over your life and determine whether or not you have already developed the habit of quitting. The mission field, again, is too difficult and too demanding for a person who gives up. Missions work is not for the faint of heart. Even Paul and Barnabas were abandoned by John Mark on their first missionary journey. (“Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.” Acts 13:13) You must have an attitude of not giving up. You need to be like the general who burns the bridges behind him so that his soldiers won’t retreat when the battle gets heated and stressful. There is no retreating; there is no quitting for the successful missionary. Might I remind you that Christ called for his disciples not to look back. Listen to Christ’s response to those who said that they would follow Him:
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:57-62
You may have a desire to serve on the mission field. You may even have good intentions of doing great things. Those Christ responded to also seemed to have the initial desire, and I am sure they had good intentions. Yet those desires and good intentions were not enough for them, nor will they be enough for a quitter.
Those not madly in love with Jesus Christ need not apply. Missions isn’t about the adventure; it isn’t about the work. Missions is all about Jesus; it is all about following Jesus. The thought of going to live in a different country with different food and different people can be quite appealing, but wanderlust must not be the reason for missions. Sooner or later, the new and exotic scenes will become routine and mundane; you will realize that the wildly exciting people are just people, and the latest and intriguing food will lose its appeal after a few rounds of gastrointestinal issues. Only a heart focused on knowing the Lord Jesus more, only a heart seeking His kingdom first and foremost will make the difference and help you not to quit. (“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33) Fall in love with your Lord and Savior; realize what He had to endure for your salvation. Then you will not find it so easy to give up. Fall in love with Jesus and recognize that He humbled himself to become a man with a teachable spirit (as evidenced in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”) Then you will realize that you must humble yourself and become a learner as well.
What will you do?
There you have it. You must evaluate yourself before you set out on such a sacred endeavor. We don’t need men and women who have not already counted the cost before they set their desire and make their plans to go to the foreign fields. It takes a special breed of person to make it on the mission field, and you must see if you really do have what it takes. Look over your life; see how you have responded to circumstances in your life and determine whether you have found yourself faithful or unfaithful. If you realize that you don’t need anyone’s help and people cannot talk to you to help you and teach you, then don’t apply. If you realize that you have a problem with following through and finishing things, then don’t apply. If you love the adventure and the mission more than you love the Mission-Giver, then you need to stay home. You need to get right with God and most certainly don’t need to apply.
You are most likely pretty discouraged by now. If the job were not supremely important, I would have used easier words and written in a gentler tone. God has entrusted us with such a great responsibility—so great that we must give our best to accomplish the goal. World evangelism is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the proud and unteachable. It is especially not for those who love the world more than they love their Savior. Consider the group in which you may belong. Make today be the day you change. God’s already given you the ability to do so. Then apply.