Any of us with a little life experience know that obstacles often turn into opportunities. The same is true in your path toward missions. Last month we considered six obstacles that may keep you, at least for a time, from getting to the mission field. Now consider some ways you can meet these obstacles with God’s help and wisdom.
Whether you’re dealing with debt, fear of the support-raising process, or some other financial concern, remember that God has been providing for His gospel workers for two millennia. He won’t stop until His work is done. Also, as Romans 12:11 exhorts, embrace diligence. God will reward your hard work to see progress in these areas. Regarding academic debt, contact mission agencies and ask about their policies. For prospective medical missionaries, you should know about MedSend, an organization that provides educational funds for those preparing to be medical missionaries. Finally, if you struggle with letting go of a comfortable lifestyle, consider Christ’s words in Matthew 6:19-21 to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth.
When people discourage or question your call, you must proceed with humility. This is especially true when the people are authority figures or those with more experience than you. If you are still dependent on your parents, trust God to work through them and focus on honoring them while you wait. If it is your pastor who is hesitant or opposed, consider the advice below under “Church.” If your spouse is unwilling or unsure of God’s leading, wait and pray. Be content ministering where you are until God allows a change through His work in your spouse. Seek counsel together from your pastor or trusted godly counselor. If someone else is opposed, examine your heart then trust God and advance with grace. If you fear singleness, be careful not to limit God. Allow Him to teach your heart to embrace being a single servant of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7).
If needless bureaucracy or laws opposing missions stand in your path, pray to the sovereign God. He is the God of Daniel, Moses, Paul, and the early church. He alone is able to open the door, so appeal to His power. Whatever you do, don’t try to go at it alone. Seek the help of a mission agency and others that have expertise in gaining entry. Both for long-term effectiveness and for conscience’s sake, be ethical. Pretending to be something you are not does not please God. Finally, don’t give up easily. God rewards diligent effort.
If your church leadership is opposed to your desire to go, or at least at this time, seek to understand in humility then follow the path forward that the leadership lays out. If you lack a solid connection with a local church, allow yourself time to become an active and engaged part of a good church before moving forward. And, as God allows and leads, seek their help in sending you.
If health concerns stand in the path, carefully consider your options. Experienced missions staff understand the challenges of life and ministry in the location for which you are burdened. Trust their judgment, or at least weigh it up wisely. If some health factor limits your involvement, be content to find your place in the big picture of God’s global cause, which may not be serving on the field of your choosing. Past difficulties become opportunities in God’s working. Allow Him to use your weakness to reach others who share the same weakness (2 Corinthians 1:4).
The most common reason people do not arrive on the mission field is the obstacles arising from within. Fears, unhealthy relationships, or other besetting sins deter Christians from effective global service. If you are struggling in these ways, seek to grow and change through sanctification in the Spirit and according to the Word. Welcome the community of your local church into your life and become involved in its ministry. Also, take the uncomfortable steps of seeking accountability through your pastor, pastor’s wife, or other godly people around you.
Obstacles = Opportunities
As you step out in faith, you will find that obstacles can often become opportunities. We are here to help you navigate that process. Please let us know if we can offer counsel and resources to help you deal with the obstacles you see on your path.
Keep in mind: Trusting and obeying God now will pave the way for future opportunities. Do the next right thing. God specializes in turning obstacles into opportunities.
Administrator for Church Relations and 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 email@example.com to learn more ways to serve.