Those five words come from a children’s song Sue Ann and I sang with our children and with the children who attended the 5-Day Clubs and Good News Club we hosted in our home. The words, as I recall, go like this: Be a missionary every day. Tell the world that Jesus is the way. The Lord is soon returning; there is no time to lose. So, be a missionary, God’s own emissary, be a missionary today! Let’s go!
This simple song teaches a good point: you don’t have to move to another country to be a missionary. In truth, every Christian is a missionary. Our Lord Jesus has given us a mission—to make disciples of all nations. To the extent we take this mission seriously, and participate in it, to that extent we are missionaries. Every day!
October is Missions Month at Journey Church. During this month we will talk about the missionaries we support as a church. But in so doing, let’s not overlook how this applies to you, to us: we are missionaries. How are we doing with fulfilling our God-given mission?
I grew up as an “MK” … a missionary kid. I was born in Ecuador, South America, while my parents were serving there as missionaries. Their primary ministry was through HCJB radio: Dad preached over the air and Mom sang.
However, my MK experience was a little different. We moved to Miami, FL, when I was about 3 years old. My parents were still missionaries—they served under a mission board while Dad traveled throughout the Spanish-speaking world teaching and preaching the Bible. God used him to bring many, many people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Part of my MK experience was Dad being gone for weeks at a time, sometimes months at a time. Mom and we four kids would pray for him and his ministry, asking God to save lost souls. God answered those prayers.
But I was an MK growing up in the USA. That was a little weird. “What does your dad do?” was a common question among kids when I was little. “My dad is a mechanic,” or “My dad is a fireman,” or “My dad is a dentist.” When I answered, “My dad is a missionary,” I received quizzical looks. Sometimes they would ask what that meant and my stammering attempts to explain left them puzzled.
As a family, however, we did do “missionary” things. We mailed out periodic prayer letters to our supporters. This was a family project. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my siblings preparing the mailing, assembly-line style. My job was folding the 8.5×11 sheet of paper to fit in a letter-size envelope. And there was a specific way it was to be done. My parents showed me how and explained why it had to be done that way. I still fold letters the same way!
We also took trips to visit our supporters—churches and individuals. Most of our support base was in the Midwest. I remember as a young boy from Miami marveling at what the Midwest looked like: fields of corn lining the road, red barns with nearby farmhouses, trees I only read about in books, like apple trees and cherry trees. I was a bit charmed by it all. The four kids stayed on a farm for a few days while Mom and Dad had other meetings. That was an experience!!
And we prayed for our supporters. During family devotions each night, we used prayer cards Mom had made for each of our supporters. We took turns praying for them as we rotated through the stack of cards. I can still remember some of the names. In fact, one of my fellow students at seminary, upon graduation, went to pastor one of our supporting churches. That church continued to provide financial support to my mother until the day she died at 96 and ½ years old.
During our seminary years, Sue Ann and I engaged in extended ministry trips to other countries. In 1982 we spent the summer serving in England. The next summer we spent six weeks serving in Spain. We were seeking God’s will about whether He wanted us to serve Him in some other country. We concluded that He was not leading us to another country, so we have served Him as missionaries in the USA. We have lived in places which were not native to us, learning the culture and working to spread the gospel there.
But wherever the church was located that I pastored, we considered the neighborhood in which we lived to be our primary personal mission field. The 5-Day Clubs and Good News club I mentioned above were some of the ways we spread the gospel to people in our neighborhoods. After several houses were broken into in one of our neighborhoods—ours included—we started a Neighborhood Crime Watch. It was a way to build relationships for Jesus.
We have hosted an evangelistic Bible study for unbelieving neighbors, passed out gospel tracts on Halloween, hosted gospel-centered Christmas parties in our home, cared for neighbors in their times of need, helped them and let them help us, and talked about Jesus. I remember the surprise on the face of one neighbor when, sitting in his home, I talked with him about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and showed him how we can know it was a real historical event.
The ways we have worked to spread the gospel of Jesus have not always been the same in each of our neighborhoods, nor have we been “perfect” missionaries, but we believe Jesus has us here on mission. And if you have put your faith in Jesus to save you from your sins, you, too, are a missionary. October, Missions Month at Journey Church, will remind us of this calling.
Be a missionary every day. Tell the world that Jesus is the way. Let’s go!!