A necessary corrective to common mistakes people make regarding missions, this month’s Serve is written by former BMM missionary to Cameroon and current BMM Special Representative, Dr. Dan Seely. Dan also serves as the Pastor of Mission and Outreach at Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Myth #1: Missionaries are the best and brightest among us.
I have often heard this myth voiced, “I could never do what you do,” as if there were some special quality of people that become missionaries. In 1 Corinthians 1:27 & 29 Paul told the Corinthians, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty… that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Look at the disciples—all were ordinary men from whom God received the glory. The book of Acts confirms this: “they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).
Myth #2: If God wants me to be a missionary, he will give me a special call.
Those who request an unusual experience seem to desire an encounter like Paul on the road to Damascus or a vision like Peter to go to the unreached (Acts 10). However, such thinking paralyzes many people from considering Christ’s written call to all his disciples: Go and make disciples of all peoples (Matt. 28:19–20). Though it is not Jesus’ intent for every single person to cross geographical or cultural borders, we are all called to make disciples wherever we are.
Myth #3: The safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will.
NO . . . this myth needs to be clearly dispelled! Safety is merely an illusion, a ‘god’ that has become the great idol of our culture right alongside of comfort. Jesus was clear on this issue, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). We cannot expect to be treated differently than our Savior; he was rejected and crucified, and many of his disciples were martyred. We do not take the gospel to the nations and make disciples because it is a safe endeavor. It is important to expose the lie of safety or even the parallel myth that “God will protect his children who are doing what He wants them to do.” No, God has promised to reward us, but his promise of reward is not a guarantee of bodily protection.
Myth #4: I would have to give up too much to be involved in mission.
The self-centered desire to achieve the “American Dream” sets the bar way too low for any disciple. As Christians, our purpose in life must be more than obtaining a spouse, kids, a secure job, a house, cars, etc.—in short, everything we will leave behind when we die. Jesus put it this way, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35). This truth must be embraced. As Jim Elliot famously crafted Jesus’ words, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Myth #5: Mission is a Western thing.
In our current age we need to challenge one another with the idea that as Americans We Are Not the Hero (to borrow the title of a book). Certainly, we all love a good hero story, but when it comes to mission, God is the hero not us. Our job is simply to join with whatever God is doing, wherever we see him at work, and not look back (Luke 9:62). Though our western culture pushes us toward independence and isolation from each other, Christ calls his church to work together, which implies partnering with believers from other cultures, and not assume we must be the ones who are in the lead or who are in charge. The call from Christ is to all his disciples, to reach all the nations. Is this your heartbeat?
former BMM missionary to Cameroon and current BMM Special Representative
This month's Serve is written by former BMM missionary to Cameroon and current BMM Special Representative, Dr. Dan Seely. Dan also serves as the Pastor of Mission and Outreach at Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia.