Called to Missions: An Alternate Story :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Called to Missions: An Alternate Story

Savannah McPhail
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Throughout our lives we rely on narratives to help us navigate major decisions. These general stories give us possible patterns to follow. They form our expectations on a fundamental level. An example is the “life story” I heard growing up.

A child is born. The child lives with his parents until he is eighteen. He then goes to college for four years. He graduates, gets married, and gets a job. Then they have children. Repeat.

When I deviated from this story in my own life, it was a little unsettling. I was not familiar with other versions. I had to seek out others who had experienced a pattern more like mine.

Today I want to talk about the “Called to Missions” story. I heard this story over and over growing up, but it was not a story that applied to me. How could I know if I was called to missions if I didn’t fit the usual narrative?      

The Call to Missions

Once upon a time, there was a Christian. The Christian became familiar with foreign missions, either by reading about it, hearing speakers, or visiting abroad. The Christian began to feel a desire to reach the lost in a foreign place. This desire was given by God to the Christian as a child, as a young adult, or even later in life. The Christian’s church became aware of the Christian’s calling and confirmed it. The Christian began to prepare for the mission field.

As the Christian became “a missionary” there was a sense of great sacrifice. Here was the Christian, about to leave his home, his friends, his family, and his country to go and live in a foreign place. The Christian would have to learn a new language, a new culture, and a new way of life. It was a huge step. But the Christian was surrendered to God. The Christian was willing to do all things through Christ, and for the sake of the Gospel.

The Christian became a missionary.

The End.

Most likely, you recognize this story. Perhaps you have lived it. Is there anything wrong with this story?

No. It is a perfectly acceptable narrative, one that helps many people as they think about the call to missions. It follows Biblical principles.

But it is not the only story. 

An Alternate Call to Missions

Once upon a time, there was a Christian missionary kid. The missionary kid lived and breathed foreign missions from a young age. The missionary kid spoke at least two languages, lived in two or more cultures, and felt untethered to any country on this earth. The missionary kid knew the vital importance of foreign missions and sharing the Gospel. As the missionary kid approached adulthood, she had to leave her family and friends to go live in a semi-foreign country and learn a semi-new way of life. It was a huge step.

The missionary kid faced many choices: (1) She could leave her passport country and try to return to the country she loved most. (2) She could embrace her passport country and plan to never leave it again. Or (3) she could surrender her natural desires to God and be willing to live anywhere—abroad or in her passport country.

The Christian missionary kid came to choose number 3 and surrendered to God. Very good. Was the missionary kid interested in missions? Of course! But…it was hard to say. Missions was so familiar to her, so comfortable. So, the missionary kid explored other avenues in college and in the workforce. It became clear that the Christian missionary kid did indeed desire to work in ministry.

Now what? The missionary kid had no deep roots anywhere, so all the world seemed a likely mission field. Yes, the missionary kid felt a particular love for the country where she grew up, but was that a burden or just a desire to return to a comfortable place? The missionary kid was at a loss. Surely that was too easy. The “Call to Missions” story always involved that serious sacrifice of leaving all.

After a long period of indecision, the missionary kid visited the country she loved. Yes, it was so good to be back! The food, the language, all things were familiar once again! And the missionary kid loved the people and realized that the language skills and familiarity with the culture were serious assets for ministry there.

The missionary kid finally understood that for her, the “Call to Missions” story would be told a different way.

And the missionary kid became a missionary.

The End.     

This version of the story has been my story, and it was difficult and confusing to navigate. Pieces of the narrative I thought were essential to the “Call to Missions” turned out to not be as important as I thought.

As you can see, the story of the missionary kid’s call to missions is told almost backwards from the first story. Still, each story contains similar highlights: the need for total surrender to God, and the desire to reach the lost with the Gospel.

The Essentials

If we strip the other elements away, the barebones “Call to Missions” story would be this:

There once was a Christian who surrendered totally to God. He was willing to go anywhere and do anything for Christ. God gave him a strong desire to go and tell people about the Gospel. He went. The End.

Knowing that earlier would have been so helpful to me!

For MKs

It can be extra difficult for missionary kids to sort out whether they are called to missions. The MK will be asking questions such as, “Am I really called to missions,” or “Do I just find that way of life more natural?” “Am I actually burdened for the lost,” or “Do I miss home?”

A missionary kid will probably need to distance himself from foreign missions for at least a brief period so that he can ascertain whether the call even exists.

A good measure of whether a missionary kid is truly surrendered to God’s call is the same as for anyone else: “Is the missionary kid willing to live anywhere that God leads him—not just the country he loves the most?”