Should I Wait for an Open Door before I go Overseas?

William Carey was an 18th century shoe-maker who is now known as the Father of Modern Missions.  After a short career as a pastor he desired to go to India for the sake of missions but was lacking support from the church in America.  His church considered mission work unnecessary because of an imbalanced view of the sovereignty of God.  He was told by one man, “If God wants to convert the heathen, he will do it without consulting you, or me!”  In response he wrote a rather long document that is now known as his “Enquiry.” I have been reading the Enquiry recently and these next few blog-posts will be devoted to sharing with you what I learned. 

Specifically, in one section of this great work, he addressed the question: “Should I wait for God’s Providence to open the door for me before I go overseas?”  He responded by writing:
It has been said that we ought not to force our way, but to wait for the openings, and leadings of Providence; but it might with equal propriety be answered in this case, neither ought we to neglect embracing those openings in providence which daily present themselves to us.
What openings of providence do we wait for? We can neither expect to be transported into the heathen world without ordinary means, nor to be endowed with the gift of tongues…when we arrive there. These would not be providential interpositions, but miraculous ones. 
Where a command exists nothing can be necessary to render it binding but a removal of those obstacles which render obedience impossible, and these are removed already.
Carey’s answer is that we must consider what it means for God to “open the door.”  Does God take us up and transport us to another country when he desires us to go into missions?  Certainly he could, but this would not be an “open door,” it would be a miracle.
However, if God commands us to do something (i.e. “Go therefore into all the nations…”), all he would need to do is remove obstacles that would make it impossible for us to obey the command.  Do we have the command?  Yes: Matthew 28:19-21. Is it impossible to take the Gospel to the nations?  No!  Thus the door is always open and there is nothing else we need to do but to walk through it.  We do not need a voice from Heaven, we already have one.  We do not need to be transported by the Spirit to the nations, we have airplanes.  God has given us a command and we are not lacking in our ability to obey.
Often when people are considering missions they encounter difficulties: visa problems, resistance from family, financial problems.  And these problems have turned many missionaries back claiming they encountered a “closed door.”  Yet when they encounter difficulty at work, they work through it.  When their children require more money than they have, they work harder.  When their wife gets sick they take her to the doctor.  No one says, well I feel like the Lord called me to be a husband, but I do not have enough money for the ring, so that must be a closed door!  No, instead when faced with obstacles in our daily lives we pray, and work hard, ask for help, cry, and keep going.  In the same way, God is not obligated to auto-transport, miraculously heal, or drop money bags from heaven for missionaries.  Instead, he commands us to bring the Gospel to the world and tells us it will be hard….but not impossible by his grace.   So for those who have considered, are considering, or will consider missions the command is all we need, the door is open, let us march through it!
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits,
 since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
2 Timothy 2:3-4

Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a servant of Jesus Christ as well as a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator among the Kwakum people of Cameroon.