Matthew 9:36-38 and 10:1 (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
When I read these words, I imagined the compassion that Jesus had for the crowds of people that he spoke to. He said they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Sheep without a shepherd would be in so much danger. Without protection, care, and guidance, sheep would perish, get injured, or killed by wild beasts. They might eat plants that are poisonous. They might fall in a pit, or a someone might steal them away.
Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Then He tells his disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field.
Jesus will give us the authority and power that we need to be effective witnesses for Him.
Dear Father God, I am thankful that Jesus came to this earth to show us how to be loving, compassionate, and caring. I am so glad that I can call Jesus my Savior. But there are many people who still need salvation, and I pray the Lord of the harvest to send workers. I also pray for power to be an effective witness for You. I pray Your will be done. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.
Below is an excerpt from the website, “Ask a Missionary“. There are more missionaries that have written about what they wish they knew before they went on a mission.
“What do missionaries wish they had known before they first went?“
“I wish I’d known how amazing it was going to be!”
I would have wanted to know how exciting, rewarding, challenging, and amazing it was going to be!
Being 51 with three kids, two adolescents and a six-year old, making a decision to sell everything and move to Peru was a decision that didn’t come quickly or without struggles. The Lord called, we obeyed, and he showed us that all this was possible.
If you are in a season of questioning missions, I can tell you to GO and go quickly. Do not waste another minute. The harvest is plenty and the workers are few!! He goes before us and lays out our path, so be obedient and follow!!
I would have gotten more cross-cultural training, especially focused on the culture to which I was going. I would have taken more time in language learning. But most of all, I needed realistic expectations. Working in a foreign field is the same as being in a war. I know. I’ve fought in both and the similarities are striking. There is not much glorious about warfare. It may look exciting on TV or in the movies, but in the trenches it’s a lot of hard work. And the enemy has ambushes everywhere. Often you can’t tell the enemy from the friendly. And your friends get injured and killed. It hurts.
The culture won’t make a bit of sense and you’ll even resent the people sometimes, or think how they do things is ridiculous. But you will learn how to live there. You’ll learn new cultural cues. You’ll begin to see how they do make sense in your new culture. And in the learning, you’ll grow to love the people. So learn to laugh at yourself!
Don’t give up! When you go, determine that you’re going to stay. It’s like God meant marriage to be. It won’t always be easy, but make it work! Don’t expect the other person to change. Change as you need to. And there’s probably no better environment to promote change in us than working in another culture.
Many girls and young women have unrealistic ideas of romantic bliss in marriage, without seeing the problems or day-to-day efforts needed to make a marriage work. Missions is no different. In most missionary presentations, we hear only about the victories and great things the Lord is doing.
I think that is for two reasons. First, missionaries are trying to recruit people into the work, so they strongly emphasize the positive side. Second, most people, and maybe especially missionaries, don’t want to be vulnerable and reveal that they have problems. This is not helped by the fact that church people want to put missionaries on a super-spiritual pedestal for being willing to sacrifice and live under harsh conditions. So, it’s important to talk with missionaries one-to-one to hear their struggles as well as their victories.
Another common fallacy is that the lost are crying out for someone to tell them the gospel. There may be the rare exception (in Papua New Guinea, one tribe did build a church in anticipation of the missionaries coming to tell them the good news), but in general, the lost are blinded just as the Jews are. They are not searching for God and are living deceived in the darkness of their blinded condition. We will most commonly find indifference to the message, and at worst, we’ll experience downright opposition.
Missionaries who think they’re going overseas to do a great work for Jesus amuse me. We merely participate in the work God is already doing. Of course, all our friends at home will tell us what a great and wonderful thing we’re doing. Then WHAM! We come face-to-face overseas with all our inadequacies and weaknesses. We realize how much we’re actually going to have to depend on God to see something accomplished. Many missionaries, when confronted with the reality of living in a foreign culture and the time needed to influence people, simply become discouraged, turn around, and come home. Only when we realize our total dependence on God, wait on him, and work with him, do we finally see some beautiful fruit.
The following are some things nobody told me, but I’m telling you:
Boredom is real. I heard that before I left my home country. But now I have long periods of down time that I used to fill so easily at home. The first two months or so in a new place are the hardest, since you’re establishing new friendships and a new pattern of life.
Knowing yourself is very important. I have been stretched a phenomenal amount, especially in the first months of my assignment. If you have any hidden personal issues, God will bring them to light. Be willing to deal with them as they come up; don’t push them away. God needs to break you in order to use you.
Be teachable, and be a lifelong learner. It’s easy to depend only on your ability to figure it out once you get there, since firsthand knowledge may seem more dependable than book knowledge and theories. It’s not true. Know before you go.
It takes time to ease into the structure. At home, I had lots of energy to fill my day from early morning to late at night. But overseas, I tire so quickly. Realize that being stretched physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well as facing a new culture, language, and living situation wears you out. It’s okay to slow down. Being a missionary is not about being superhuman and accomplishing a long list each day. Some days all you’ll accomplish is a trip to the grocery store or a government office. It’s about trust, obedience, and hearing the Master’s voice.
I went to the field with a Bible college degree under my belt. Beyond the one intro class, I had not even taken any missions courses. I went out blissfully ignorant and I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
There were pre-field training opportunities back then, but there are so many more today, and every aspiring missionary should take advantage of them! Ten years after I had been on the field I had the chance to take such a course and I still learned a lot!
Mission agencies and their candidates give lip service to the importance of pre-field orientation, but few allot much time for it. It is often the last thing a new missionary does once their support is all in and before they rush off to the field. They are so consumed with packing and saying good-bye that they don’t always appreciate it.
PLEASE make this a priority!!!