Six obstacles on your path to missions
Perhaps you stand ready to serve in missions yet find yourself hindered from moving forward. Obstacles often stand in a person’s path and cause hesitancy toward going. What are those obstacles? What can be done about them? While not an exhaustive list, consider six obstacles on the path to missions. Which ones stand in your path?
Missionaries have financial responsibilities like everyone else. Typically, a missionary candidate has trained thoroughly and therefore can accrue significant academic debt. Further, the very idea of seeking financial partners is enough to turn many away. Raising thousands of dollars in monthly support seems impossible and requires a lot of faith, hard work, and vulnerability. Money can be a major obstacle for those in profitable careers who have enjoyed a lifestyle of plenty yet might face a different situation overseas
From well-meaning, loving Christian family to adversarial bosses or acquaintances, people often are the roadblocks you will meet as you head toward reaching the nations. Parents often struggle with the thought of letting their child go or of only seeing their grandkids every few years. Your peers may not understand your choice. Perhaps it hits even closer to home and your spouse is opposed. What do you do? How do you meet these hurtful challenges.
Gaining lawful entry into the places you desire to reach is another frequent roadblock. You need an immigrant visa that often eludes you due to strict labor or financial laws. Perhaps you desire to reach an area opposed to Christian ministry and must find an acceptable business or other purpose for living there. You may experience corrupt government requiring endless bureaucracy. State authorities can be the greatest obstacle you will have to overcome.
Often overlooked is the backing of your local church. The biblical example of missions found in Acts 13:1-4 demonstrates that one should have a solid relationship and active part in a local body before heading out into missions. Perhaps you don’t have that kind of connection. Perhaps you are well-connected but your pastor has asked that you wait or even told you that he doesn’t feel you are qualified to go. What then?
Perhaps some physical or mental limitation prevents you from certain areas of service. The Lord is able to overcome these seeming limitations, but many times people have a health need that requires specialized care and ongoing medical attention that is unavailable on the field in which they seek to serve. Perhaps they are in a period of waiting until a medical situation improves.
Most commonly, the obstacles turning people away from missions are found within. Many struggle with fear and uncertainty. They feel dominated by a sense of inadequacy or they fear rejection. Also very common is simply a fear of missing out. What will your peers see and do that you won’t if you go? If you are single perhaps you dread the prospect of being alone for the rest of your life. Others battle private moral failures like viewing pornography or participating in ungodly relationships.
Obedience and surrender
The Lord of the Great Commission is One who requires our obedience, so we must boldly trust. The reality is that one or more of these may limit your involvement or may take time to resolve. As you step back, though, it’s important to realize that all of these obstacles have some things in common. They all put us in a place of dependency on God. They all require prayer. They all demand trust in God and are opportunities for growth. Finally, all of these obstacles are opportunities for God to be glorified.
Christ is Lord, so we must obey Him. He also works according to His wisdom and knowledge in ways that are many times mysterious to us yet always good. Next month we will consider ways we can see these obstacles removed. In the meantime, pray through these and evaluate which ones you will face.
Administrator for Church Relations & Enlistment
Travis Gravley & his wife Becky are former missionaries to Romania. He serves as BMM’s Administrator for Church Relations and Enlistment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more ways to serve.