Everyone involved in mission’s work is in it because at some point in their lives God interrupted their “normal” existence and directed them to do something different. Think of Abram, later Abraham, going about life there in Ur, everything routine, day after day. Then one day, God said to him, “I have a plan for you, to make you into a great nation and bless the whole world through you, so leave here and go to a place I will show you.” Similar interruptions happened for Noah, Moses, Gideon – the list could go on and on.
Such callings are not limited to missions. God may interrupt for a variety of reasons, because he has a plan for that moment. Maybe you’ve had an experience being delayed in doing what you had planned, which is frustrating at first, only to find out later that God used the delay because he had someone he wanted you to meet, or something he wanted you to do, right where you were. God is constantly trying to get our attention to be involved in his plans, but so often we are too busy to listen.
What does a call to missions look like?
Our experience has shown us that God is creative in his ways of calling people, but we can filter them into two major categories.
- Sometimes God’s call on our lives is striking and undeniable. It is as if he speaks directly to us through thoughts, dreams, or other people, and the message is clear. “I want you to serve me in Asia.”
- Sometimes God uses a much longer process, a discerning over time, to lead us toward a decision. This is more of a step by step leading, where the light for the next step appears only after you’ve taken the previous step.
Since God is creative in how he leads and calls us, how do we know that he is wanting us to go?
Trust that God’s leading will be consistent. The messages he sends, whether direct or indirect in nature, will all be pointing to the same decision. If the messages you are getting are not consistent, then it is probably not a leading of God.
Trust that God’s leading will be constant. God does not give up easily if you miss the first message. He will keep at it. If you ignore the message at church through your pastor, you will hear the same basic “call” from a mentor or friend. If missions is in front of you on the path and you turn the other way… missions will still, somehow, be in front of you.
Trust that God’s leading will be clear. If you do not have peace, or assurance that this is what God wants of you for this time, keep waiting. When God does want you to get involved, the messages will be clear and you will know that if you choose not to follow, that you will be disobeying. If God can direct the decisions of people who do not follow or even know him (think Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar), he can certainly clearly direct us.
If you feel that God may be leading you to be involved in cross-cultural ministry, talk to your church leadership, talk to missionaries you know, talk to spiritual mentors in your life. God will be consistent, constant and clear.