What constitutes a missionary call? A deep inner feeling? A burning bush experience? Something just for the spiritual elite? Popular but misguided notions can confuse and hinder your discernment for God’s call. Drawing from Rev. Mack Stiles’ message at the 2013 Cross Student Missions Conference, let us clarify the fundamentals, then illustrate them with Mitch and Zoe’s story
In 2000, half of the world became city dwellers. In 2012, China’s urban population surpassed its rural counterpart. Economic migration is a global phenomenon. Over the last few decades, hundreds of millions in China have left the countryside for the cities with millions of Christians among them.
Recently Lance and Donna were tagged in a photo from friends in the US that said, “We love spend- ing time with this family from East Asia”. After ten years abroad, it makes sense that they are seen as from Asia and not America. China is home. It is where they work, do life, and serve as missional professionals.
By the time Dave and Elsie got married, they were certain about their call to bi-vocational missions.
During Dave’s post-doc years, he underwent additional training in a related field to broaden his career options. His mentor connected him to an opportunity to consult for an international organization on their China projects. Dave and Elsie began to pray for an overseas assignment with this organization. They were headed in the right direction, but there were many bureaucratic obstacles.
As we celebrate 30 years of ministry, it is time to revisit and reaffirm our mission. This is important in order to sharpen our objectives, develop new strategies, align our teams, and mobilize others to join us while staying focused and relevant in this rapidly evolving world scene that is changing the landscape of missions.
Despite suffering and chaos, spiritual revival spread among young people across China during WWII and the Civil War that followed. Brave bands of evangelists felt called to reach the poverty-stricken Northwest. Without knowledge of each other, they went out from Shanghai, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong and Shaanxi.
Every day we read disturbing headlines from around the world: radical factions escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from both sides; IS jihadists massacring Christians in Iraq; Islamic terrorists kidnapping school girls in Nigeria; militant Buddhists persecuting Muslims in Myanmar; the government taking down crosses from church buildings in China … and the list goes on.
Is tentmaking missions just about being a self-supporting missionary like Paul, who financed his pioneering work at Corinth through his trade? Is it just about having a work visa so you can stay and serve in a certain country?
At the 2010 Lausanne III, Tim Keller of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church made a case that if Christians want to reach the world, they must reach the cities. Christianity won the 1st century Greco-Roman world because it won the cities. Today, half the world’s population is urban.
If career is an integral part of a tentmaker’s life and witness, and not just a “passport” to get to the field or a “platform” for ministry, then getting the right job is important. But what constitutes the right job? How do you find that job overseas?
The current global economic malaise has made it more challenging for donor-dependent missionaries and job-dependent tentmakers to stay on the field. While there is a place for short-termers, the work of missions to impact lives and transform culture requires long-term investment. There is no short cut to building relationships and gaining influence. So it is important to consider what it would take for workers to serve on the field beyond a few short years.