Could the title of Missionary be one that our modern world has over used, and/or misunderstood.
What do you think of when you hear the term missionary?
Most of us, I would dare say, think of a person that travels out of the country, setting up an outreach in a third world country or an unreached people group that have never heard the gospel.
Why is it so hard for many to understand that a missionary can be someone working in their own community? Is it so different when someone is working within one’s native land? Why do many see this as less of a missionary than one that travels outside of it?
Where in the Bible does this word even show up? (Food for thought)
If we look at the etymology of the word ‘missionary’, we see it is from the 1640’s, has its roots in Latin, and meaning: sent on a mission. This comes from the root Latin work missionem from the 1590’s meaning: a dispatch or release, setting at liberty…it has a diplomatic sense to it, normally being used for those sent to a foreign land on commercial or political business. Yet this is a word that describes an action and does not define a person and their role. The work of a missionary is normally apostolic and/or evangelistic in nature. This is to evangelize an area and establish a local body that can equip and grow in the local community.
I encourage you to broaden your viewpoint and challenge your thinking.
A person that can understand the native culture, speak the language, and work in the community may have a greater impact on their community than someone that has to come in and learn all of these techniques. You do not have to be sent to a foreign land to be effective, however. You can still be effective and a trailblazer where you are.
In the modern sense we use the word ‘missionary’ in a way that actually means someone that has a mission to reach others; so this could be local or overseas.
This is not to diminish the importance of international missions! Nor does it remove the impact that one person leaving a comfortable environment from a prosperous nation to reach the poor and downtrodden of another nation can have. I understand and participate in this wonderful work.
We must learn to embrace the importance of the great commission:
Matthew 24:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole [a]world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Mark 16:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
So, the goal is to reach all creation, not just people you have no direct contact with.
I am not saying that anyone should be condemned, I only challenge and encourage you, as I have challenged myself; to look beyond your comfort zone and allow God to use you where you are.