By Kenneth D. MacHarg
“I want to do something significant with the rest of my life.” That’s what a former parishioner at an international church said to me in a recent conversation.
Not that he hasn’t already accomplished a lot: a high-profile job assisting his government afforded him comforts such as time for family vacations and travel. There was time for playing with his son. And to think.
I referred him to missionnext.org, a web site designed to help people focus on the last third of their life and use it to the glory of the Lord.
Certainly there are significant needs out there. Missionary Doug Nichols recently wrote, “Statistics say there are at least two billion people in the world with no near neighbor Christian to tell them of Christ (and salvation only through Him). So, if your church sent a missionary to serve with 10,000 of these unreached people (street children, prisoners, etc.), there would be a need for 200,000 additional missionaries now.”
Dr. Nichols added, “Perhaps you will seriously consider this desperate need (whether your church is 75 people or 3000) to pray, work, train, and trust God to send one or two missionaries from your church yearly. Yes yearly!
Women missionaries, ages 25-55, are needed to work with the 153 million orphans worldwide and the 100 million street children.
Mature, godly couples, ages 45-75, are needed to encourage and help train over three million undertrained, needy pastors throughout the world.
Evangelical men and women, all ages but especially older evangelicals, are needed to work in and outside the jails and prisons of the world with prisoners and their families. Some jail cells in Asia made for 12 prisoners are crowed with 50.”
One or two missionaries from our church yearly? Certainly he must be kidding.
But, why not? When was the last time that we prayed, individually or as a congregation, that the Lord would raise up pastors and missionaries from our church? When was the last time that we suggested to our young people or adults seeking a career change that being a Christian counselor, a seminary professor, a Christian education worker or a pastor was a worthy occupational goal? When did we recently encourage someone to become a career missionary?
I was very moved by what a Kyrgyz friend living in India where her husband is a pastor wrote to me a few weeks ago. She said, “Please, whenever you have chance, share about Kyrgyzstan. We still need missionaries there. Does your church send missionaries out? Do you have outreach trips?
Despite all of the missionaries who have served since the early church, there is still a desperate need for more. In Romans 10 we read, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
As my Kyrgyz friend says, “We still need missionaries” in Kyrgyzstan and that applies elsewhere as well.
In his book Life Together, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote these challenging words: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Whether you are 21 years old and completing your education; in your 30s starting your family; in your 40s grappling with mid-life crisis; 50s or 60s looking forward to retirement; or 70s wondering what you can do “to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24), consider the needs of those around you and in other parts of the world, consider Kyrgyzstan or Honduras or Kenya, check out missionnext.org (it’s a good place to start no matter your age) and find something very significant to do with the rest of the life God has given to you.
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