It is possible that a church that believes in the Great Commission could say to a prospective missionary, “Don’t go. Please stay and help us!”? We all say that the church’s number one priority is the evangelization of the heathen; and everyone would agree that churches should send well qualified men and woman to do just that. We say it, but do we believe it? Remember, our doctrine is what we do, not just what we profess! The following examples are true; only the names have been changed.
A young man and his new bride have set their sights on a very needy island country in the Caribbean. The man has been looking toward this country since age twelve, and his wife is willing to serve beside him anywhere. In the short time since he declared his calling to the foreign mission field, he has had two serious requests from churches asking them to stay in the US and help them. The young couple just happen to be excellent musicians, and the man is very good with young people.
Don and his family have been on two extended trips to a Muslim country in Central Asia where very, very few missionaries are willing to go. They are preparing financially and linguistically to return to stay. Don has had more than two serious requests from churches here that he forget the lost Muslims in Central Asia and stay home to help them.
A certain country in Africa had just opened up to missionaries; and Robert decided that God wanted him there. He raised 90% of his support to live and work in this place. But then his home church in New York found itself in need of a pastor. They knew this brother. He was one of them. They asked him to not go to the mission field, but to stay and help them. We are not talking about a poor church with only a handful of people who would have difficulty finding a pastor. Robert assented to their request. I wonder if the people in Africa ever got a missionary.
The Iron Curtain came down in a European country, and missionaries were hurrying to get into it. God was blessing in this former communist country, and people were responding to the gospel by the thousands. A young man felt the call of God to go there. He raised 75% of his monthly support in a short time. Then his pastor asked him to stay and help in his home church. His home town already had plenty of gospel-preaching churches (about one Baptist church for every five hundred people), and the missionary wanted to go to places where there were no churches. But he was useful to his pastor, and he stayed home. Maybe that was God’s perfect will. But it is also His will that the church takes the message of salvation to where it has never been. Did someone else go?
Joel and Rachel had graduated from BBTI and were helping a certain Texas church that was between pastors. This young couple is planning to go to a group of people in Asia who have no Bible. No missionary is working there and none ever has. The language is unwritten, and only a well-trained missionary linguist could write their language and give them a translation of God’s Word. This young couple is as prepared as possible and willing to go to this heathen tribe—people who literally have never heard the name of Christ. The people at the Texas church loved the way Joel preached; and he and his wife are great singers, too. We are talking about a church that loves missions. They give their money to support missionaries. They really care about the lost heathen around the world. But apparently they cared more about themselves because in essence they said, “Please don’t go to this lost Muslim group. Don’t reduce their language to written form. Don’t translate the Bible. Don’t tell them about Christ for the first time. No, don’t go; stay and be our pastor.” The missionary said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We are going!” And do you know what? In a few weeks the church found a very good man to be their pastor.
Let me tell you one more true story. Jack, a young BBTI graduate, plans to serve the Lord in a very needy African country. There are almost no missionaries in the entire country. This young man is a great children’s worker. I have seen him hold children spellbound as he teaches them God’s Word. He also has a very good singing voice, and he is a good song leader. Jack wrote, “I have had several churches now ask if I would be willing to stay and help, but why in world would I? I could understand it if the world had been reached but there are portions of this globe that still have not heard one word of the gospel.” Why would these churches think only of themselves and attempt to keep this young man from going?
We, like the church Antioch, must unselfishly send our best to the mission field. The lost man of Macedonia pleaded to Paul, “Come over and help us!” Thank God the church did not send word saying, “Hey Paul, please come home. We need another teacher!”