I was on the Lies Young Women Believe blog the other day, and one girl posted a comment about her desire to be a missionary. She said that although her heart is burning with the desire to be on the mission field, she is only a freshmen in high school and hasn't had the opportunity to experience missions. I know exactly how she feels, and I have a feeling many young ladies do too. I replied to her comment, hoping to encourage her, and afterwards I thought that missions would make a great topic to post. I have read so many wonderful books and seen some great movies about missionaries, and after I'm through, my heart gets very heavy from the need for missionaries. I have also seen some very ineffective and even failing missionaries, and after reading about them, my heart gets heavy from the need for spirit-led missionaries. Instead of promoting the Gospel, they leave a bad name for Jesus by living a self-indulgent, undisciplined life. Many people tend to get caught up in the emotional experience of great missionaries' testimonies, and they feel as though they're on a "spiritual high." They think that they've been called to missions, but in reality they are on an emotional roller coaster. Other people choose missions for selfish reasons. They think of how wonderful it would be to live in a different country with a group of churches supporting them for their every need, and all in the name of sharing the Gospel. There are many other reasons as well, but if you think that you may be called to missions, examine your motives and make sure the reason isn't because you need a little excitement in your life. The correct motives for missions are evangelism and service. Full-time foreign missions is a wonderful goal if you have a calling from God. But remember that all Christians are called to full-time missions wherever we are.
Here's my reply to the missions-minded girl:
I also think that local ministries are a great way to get started in missions. I have had a strong interest in missions for many years, but I have been in a situation much like yours: too young, small church with no missions trips, and a dad who doesn't want to lose me. I volunteer at my local right-to-life center, help teach a kid's class at church, and help with the music ministry at church and occasionally nursing homes. Find your gift and use it. There are probably several ministries that would interest you in your area. Sometimes we have to wait for the big stuff, but while we're waiting we need to gain experience and be faithful in the little stuff. My dad gave me some good advice. He said that so many people say they want to be an overseas missionary or a pastor or in some kind of full-time ministry, but they never do anything for God in their life as it is. What is missions about? It's about reaching unsaved people for Christ and discipling Christians. It's about service; sometimes missionaries aren't winning tons of people to the Lord, but rather they are scrubbing toilets and peeling potatoes because that is what they need to do. So my dad told me that if I wanted to be a missionary, I needed to show him my true commitment for real service by doing all I can now; there are so many unsaved and needy people all around us. Pray and ask God what He wants you to do. Maybe He will open the doors for you to be a foreign missionary. But until He does, develop a servant's heart where you are. We can work on it together :) P.S. Practice on your family; they are usually the hardest to serve!
Missions is so important, and if you are called overseas, may God bless your ministry abundantly. Maybe someday I will get the chance to go. Until then, I will try to minister wherever I am.