Four Irrelevant Questions When Considering Foreign Missions

There are a lot of really thoughtful, important questions to ask when considering if one should or should not spend their lives in a foreign culture as a missionary. And yet, there are some questions that are more-or-less irrelevant because the Bible already has answers for them. For instance:

1. Will I Hate my Life?

Yes. I think it is safe to say that if you become a missionary, you will hate your life. While there are joys, there is also added stress that would not be experienced if one stays in their home culture. But, I do not think this is a good question to ask for two reasons. First, Jesus says that if anyone does not hate even his own life, he cannot be his disciple. Coming to Jesus, whether one stays in their home culture or not, is already a call to hate one’s life, so why wonder if you’ll hate your life on the mission field? Just assume the answer is yes and go into missions. Second, seeking first the Kingdom of God is not about us or our feelings. True, we may hate our lives for 30 years but, without hearing about and receiving Jesus, the nations will hate their eternities in Hell forever. Let us put their feelings above our own.

2. What About My Children?

Bring them with you. There is nothing better we can do for our kids than to seek first God’s Kingdom in word and in deed inside and outside of the home. I think there is a great temptation to let Facebook define what makes a good or a bad parent rather than the Word of God. According to the Bible, we are called to teach our kids the Bible, to disciple them, to love them as we would love ourselves and all these things we can do in a foreign culture. It is Facebook that says “If you do not do X,Y, and Z you are a bad parents and you will wreck your children for life.” These are simply the opinions of people and if we meditate on these opinions day and night then sooner or later missions will become unthinkable. Instead we should be meditating on Christ’s call for us to reach the nations and let the parenting tips we find online take a backseat.

Obeying one command of Jesus will never lead us to breaking another one of his commands. If his command for us to reach the nations for his name meant that we would thus not be able to love and train up our children in the Lord, than he would not have commanded it. He cannot contradict himself. Thus, when the Lord calls for people to leave their home cultures to take his Gospel to another culture, we do not have to worry about if we would be compromising in our role as parents.

3. Is It Going to Be Safe?

No. Your life will not be safe, but following Jesus is not supposed to be safe no matter where one lives. As Christians, we follow a man who was so hated that he was crucified and he gave us fair warning that if we want to follow him, we need to be willing to die like he died. There is nothing safe about being a Christian on this earth. Further, Jesus does not teach us to “seek first your safety” but instead “seek first his Kingdom.”

I also think the recent terrorist attacks in the western world serve as a great reminder that peace and safety are not guaranteed anywhere. Total peace and security are reserved for the next life.

And since we are all going to die, and perfect safety is not guaranteed in this life, we might as well spend our lives seeking after the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

4. Will I Be Able to Do It?

Yes. If you call out for wisdom, without doubting, God will give it to you. And this wisdom will be useful in any culture, any language group, or any crazy market. The Lord loves to pour out wisdom on those who seek it and believe he will give it. Further, his grace is sufficient for us so that we can know that we will have all that we need in any culture to abound in any and every good work. God also promises to work out all those grueling hours in language learning and all those times that we are made fun of for our good. And after we have passed on and our missions methodologies are picked apart by seminary students, we can know that Jesus died for all the ways we did things wrong on the field. We really cannot lose.

So, talk to the missions agencies, talk to your small group, seek out wisdom for if you would be a better fit for ministry at home or abroad. But let us walk into those conversations with these presuppositions in mind. Yes, we will hate our lives, no, it will not be safe on the mission field, yes, we can take our kids on the field in good conscience, and yes, God’s grace will be sufficient for whatever trials await us on the field. I pray that once these issues are addressed, the “Should I be a missionary?”question will be easier to answer.


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.