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Why we leave

July 31, 2016

I remember the time I first heard of the world’s greatest missionary—how he left his home, his family, and comfort to immerse and contextualize himself fully into a new culture.

He lived and loved. He prayed and pursued. He ministered, but was martyred at the hands of the those he came to save.

However, his death did not silence his mission, but spread it far and wide.

Books were written about him. Testimonies are given about him. But his legacy was in his translation work. He translated God to us—God on mission.

Mission did not die when he did. It began. He redeemed and released the largest missionary force the world has ever known.

His final words still reverberate in the ears of his followers today, “go and make, make and go.”

Jesus Christ was the greatest missionary because he ensured the continuation and completion of mission.

We were his mission. We are his missionaries. Our God left, and has left a legacy.

We leave because God saves us to send us.

God is not done with his sending. His plan all along has been to send the saved.

His aim is to multiply his Son in human hearts via the Holy Spirit and replicate his Son’s missional life countless times over in the body of Christ.

Jesus was not kidding when he said, “Follow me.” And he was not bluffing when he said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

God is serious in sending and firm in his fishing. His will is not a total mystery. His last words on earth ring with a clear commission, “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you,” (John 20:21).

God is making us missionaries. It is inevitable.

If sanctification is conformity into the likeness of Christ, and mission is crucial to being like Christ, then sanctification must have a great deal to do with mission.

You simply cannot be growing, godly, and sanctified unless you are going in some form. You were made to go. There is no if, only where.

We leave because the gospel saves the unreached.

The power of the gospel has given me a mission reformation.

It was not until I could identify with Paul, as “the worst of sinners,” that the power of the gospel won me over.

My salvation, despite the seriousness of my sin, gave me untold hope for other unreached sinners. There was now no one beyond the hope of heaven. If Jesus had saved me, he could save anyone.

Missionaries have an acute awareness of the unlikeliness of their own salvation. It’s why they have so much hope for the unlikeliest of peoples.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

The greatest demonstration of God’s power is his gospel work that he puts on display thousands of times a day!

God’s gospel is his power to save. That’s what it’s for. That’s what it does. Do you believe that? If not, look in the mirror.

We leave because the gospel saves us from ourselves.

There is clearly nothing wrong with God’s gospel . What then is keeping the unreached in our world lost? What is wrong?

I am wrong. We are wrong. I am in need of a monumental shift by the gospel that offers me a steady dose of “no longer live for yourself,” with unlimited refills (2 Corinthians 5:15).

It is me that I live for, think for, and act for. It is sickening. But the gospel makes us sick of ourselves.

I am in need of the gospel truth that frees me from self, to God, and for others.

Sure, I have first world problems with emotional heartache here and there, but I am not going to hell anymore. My greatest problem has been solved. I have no more eternal destiny dilemmas.

But there are those who live through all the pains and stresses of life but with the addition of an eternal problem. Hell is their destiny.

Unless the gospel frees us from ourselves we will not go. But it has, so we must.

We leave because so few do.

“Are you offering God a canvas or a coloring book?”

This analogy has tested the seriousness and the respect I have for the Great Commission time and time again. I either belong to God or he belongs to me.

I either come to God as a blank canvas with my signature at the bottom saying, “Have your way with me,” or I come with a pre-determined plan for what I will do, make, and who I will marry. I just let God pick the colors. The outline is there and God better stay within the lines.

We have a world missions crisis:

  • Half of the world’s population is considered unreached by the gospel (2% or less evangelical Christian)
  • 50% of Russian, 33% of Europe, 80% of China, and 90% of some parts of southeast Asia are unreached and many unengaged with no gospel workers
  • 2,200 people groups do not have access to a Bible in their own language

The crisis exists not because the gospel is broken, but because going is broken. There is not a gospel shortage, but a distribution problem.

Jesus makes it clear to us, “The harvest is plentiful” (Matthew 9:37). God will save. He intends to save. But he will not do it apart from goers.

He began his work in the person of Christ and will continue to win people through other people, period. Unless, the people stop.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are too terribly few. Jesus says, after looking upon the helpless and harassed people, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).

If there is no “Lord of the harvest” then why leave? But if there is a Lord of the harvest we can leave and love the lost. Your life can be an answer to the prayer of our Lord. Will it?

Why I left.

I left in July 2015. I now live and minister in secularized and post-Christian Europe. No one made me leave, prayer did.

Be forewarned; if you don’t want to leave and live overseas don’t start praying for the nations because if you do, you might find yourself leaving sooner rather than later. And living in the goodness of God’s plan by the gift of his faith.

In 1806, at Williams College, six college students began praying daily for God to use them in the evangelization of the world.

It became known as the Haystack Prayer Movement and birthed America’s first five mission agencies and earliest missionaries.

Eighty years later, Luther Wishard followed up their prayers in that same exact location, “Lord, do it again. Where water once flowed, let it flow again…I am willing to go anywhere, at any time, and to do anything for Jesus.”

God, his gospel , and the tragic state of the world beckon us to start “haystacks” on our college campuses with that same intention and Lord willing, same outcome.

If you’re willing, then go. But if not, pray your heart away.