So, what’s next? We spent the past year and a half taking classes and gaining tools for planting a thriving church for every people. We talked about interpersonal relationships and what it means to live well on the field as a family and as a team. We learned about worldview, language and culture and how there is so much more going on than what we see on the surface. In order to reach people with the gospel, we need to understand the way they think, and through our training we touched on techniques for how to be ministers of reconciliation that take the transforming message of the gospel and present it to those who have never heard. We have “survived the jungle” in our Jungle Camp practicum and gained hands-on skills to help us in the future as we serve overseas. And through it all, we have been reminded time and again of God’s grace and His love for all the nations. This life is His story and He has invited us to be a part of His work around the world.
But now what?
Through the last semester of training, we students have been thinking and praying about where God would have us go next. The world is a big place and there are so many people who have not heard! Throughout our time at Emanate, we have had visiting missionaries from all over the world share in chapel. There are people groups in Papua New Guinea who have never heard the gospel and are begging for missionaries to come give them “God’s talk.” There are thousands of islands in the Philippines or the Asia Pacific region where many remote people do not have the gospel in their heart language and have never heard God’s message of grace, hope and love for them. There are people in northern Canada who have been overlooked for years (though there may have been missionaries in the past) and do not clearly understand God’s message of salvation. They too are unreached. Certain countries are closed to missionaries yet those people are in need of the free gift of Jesus and they have no one to tell them God’s story and His love.
People all over the world are in desperate need of the gospel message but we can only be in one place at one time. How do we decide where to go? Does it matter where we choose?
How would you make a decision like this? Would you wrestle with your personality and the gifts that God has given you? Is there a specific field that is better suited to what you have to offer as well as to what you need? Do you have a degree that gives you access to countries where you cannot get a missionary visa? Will you pursue church planting, aviation, or another support role? All of these questions play a part in the decision of what’s next in seeing a thriving church for every people.
“For me personally, the world was my option. Anywhere was a possibility. I have been to a few different countries on short term trips, and I enjoyed every one. I found that as I got to know the people, I loved that place—it did not matter where. With that in mind, I knew I had to pick somewhere. So, I decided to pursue the Philippines where I had been on a brief trip a few years ago. It is not that I feel strongly that this country is where I need to be (over and above another), but I do desire to be part of the great commission, taking the gospel to those who have never heard. And I have to start somewhere. So, I am stepping out in faith, pursuing the Philippines, and trusting that the Lord will direct my steps and lead me as I move forward in this decision.
For each individual or family the decision making process is different. For some, the decision is easy; God clearly directs and lays a specific country or people on their hearts, and it is only a matter of saying yes to God. For others, it is a grueling process of indecision. It may seem like the options are endless as we study the globe and wonder where God would have us. In either case, we must step out in faith and learn to walk in obedience—one step at a time—to the mission that God has laid before us.
Listen to what the founder of New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos) wrote:
“Make it your business to reach every life you can, in every way you can, for this important work of world evangelization. There is no better time than Now, for tomorrow you may be in Heaven. Those you would have challenged will be idle still, and the heathen you were going to reach will still be on their way to Hell….Eat, Live, Drink, and Sleep your job, for it’s the biggest business in the world. If you have caught the vision, Carry It! May it be so catching that those you reach will carry it to others who in turn will reach others also.”
So what’s next for you? Maybe it is time to evaluate where God has you on this journey. No matter where you are or what you are doing, may you be encouraged by God’s story—His love for mankind, His story of redemption, and His invitation for you to be a messenger of His reconciliation.