Penny works several evenings on a puzzle, fitting each piece carefully. With
two young sons helping her, however, she often finds an elaborate puzzle
completed except for one or two missing pieces.
Its amazing how those missing pieces stand out. It doesnt matter how small
or insignificant the pieces are. When theyre missing, theyre more noticeable
than the brightest, largest pieces in the puzzle.
It seems to me that Gods plan for spreading the gospel is like a puzzle.
Each Christian is assigned a small piece of the plan. The Christians who make
up the framework are pastors, full-time career missionaries, long-term
volunteers and some ordinary on mission Christians. They help to
create the infrastructure in which the rest of us find our places of
Some pieces of His plan seem bigger and more prominent than others.
Every piece is important to completing the work. And no piece seems more
prominent than when its missing. Spiritual giants are wonderful, but rare.
The world is filled with everyday Christians. And just as millions of
tiny raindrops band together to form a great river down which a ship can
navigate, great numbers of individual Christians each filling a crucial part of
the puzzlecan accomplish the Great Commission.
The spiritual needs of our nation and the world are so enormous that it will
take everyoneon mission Christians, short-term and long-term
volunteers, career missionariesto meet them.
God calls all of us to His service, and His plan includes enough
workers to get the job done.
Some of us dont respond or we dont listen carefully to the exact callthe
piece of the puzzle He created just for us. And 1.8 billion people have little
or no access to the gospel.
he first step is hearing and understanding the call. When the child Samuel
was in the temple, he heard someone call his name. Three times he went to his
mentor, Eli, and asked if hed called. The third time he approached Eli, this
wise leader realized God was calling Samuel and gave him counsel thats relevant
today. He told Samuel that, next time he heard Gods voice, he should say,
"Speak, Lord. Im listening."
When Samuel recognized God speaking to him and listened, God clearly laid
out His plan. When we say, "Speak, Lord. Im listening," God will lay out His
plan for us.
Our call can lead us into one of several pools of mission workers. To reach
todays world for Christ, we must enlarge all these pools.
The on mission Christian, the believer who gets off the bleachers
and into the game, who heeds the call that comes to every Christian.
The short-term mission volunteer whose lifestyle is morphed a bitstretched,
adjusted, enlargedbut basically remains the same.
The career missionary or long-term volunteer whose way of life is totally
I believe God uses the same methods for all these calls and even uses the
first two experiences to call Christians to the third.
The main thing is to listen to the call and see where it takes us.
We can do our part in helping othersand ourselveshear and respond to Gods
call by creating an environment where Gods call is clear. Following are some
environments where He often calls.
Mission education is a time-honored way of preparing us for a call to mission
service. God used mission education to whet the appetites of new and maturing
Christians for lifestyle, short-term and career mission service. Over and over,
the book of Acts tells of missionaries like Philip (Acts 8: 5-14), Paul and
Barnabas (Acts 14:27), and Peter (Acts 11:1-18), who returned to their home
churches and reported on their missionary journeys.
Such communication was a precursor to todays methods of learning about
missionaries through magazines, videos and other modern means. And, 2000 years
later, theres still no experience quite so inspiring as hearing a real, live
Today, mission education can help children, youth and adults recognize
mission needs, how theyre being met, how they can support the work of
missionaries, and how they can be personally involved. And they can equip
students of all ages with understanding and skills for the mission.
Every church with a heart for being a worldwide mission-sending agency can
provide mission education and hands-on mission opportunities.
Mission education organizations, mission education strategies, On
Mission Celebrations and other mission opportunities and events are
crucial to an on mission church. Theres a twofold benefit. The church
becomes a mission lighthouse in its community. And it becomes the launching pad
for missionaries, expanding the churchs influence worldwide.
Ive had the privilege of hearing newly commissioned missionaries speak on
several occasions. A common thread of their words is gratitude to their home
churches for supporting them, giving them opportunities to serve, and providing
mission education organizationsRoyal Ambassadors and Girls in Actionto open
their eyes to missions. Through mission education, they learned to recognize a
missionary when they saw one. And they were able to understand and focus on the
call when they sensed it.
The early church set the standard for personalized missions. They sent out
missionaries. They participated in local mission projects, but also reached out
to their Samaria (literally, Acts 8:1-5) and collected a world hunger offering
Churches that have followed this tradition have seen missionaries emerge
from their efforts. Most missionaries will tell you that they were short-term
mission volunteers before they became career missionaries. Most had been
involved in local mission projects, gone on church-sponsored mission trips and
participated in denominational mission endeavors such as World Changers. Many
had heard missionaries speak at On Mission Celebrations (formerly
World Mission Conferences).
Most people who go on short-term mission trips have fulfilling experiences.
They return to their lives with a desire to "do it again some time."
Others are like the woman I met recently. She had just returned from a year
in South America, using her secular skills to assist a missionary. Now she felt
God calling her to career mission work.
"I dont know exactly what He wants me to do," she explained. "But one thing
I know. My life is too changed to ever go back to what I was doing. Im ready to
walk away from my plan for my life and join Gods plan."
The need for missionaries is greater today than ever, but its never been so
easy to communicate the call. Its as close as our fingertips.com. Mission
groups can log on the Net at their weekly meetings and chat with live
missionaries. They can watch videos that bring missionaries to the smallest
meeting in the remotest area.
More information about mission causes exists today than ever before, and the
format is limited only by your imagination and your techie tendencies. Many
resources are provided by the North American Mission Board and the
International Mission Boardonline tools for helping Gods chosen recognize their
call. Can God call us to His mission plan by video or website? He certainly
Sometimes God calls us through the needs we see around us. Lydia was a
businesswoman, layperson and church starter. She saw a need and acted on it.
There was no synagogue in Philippi, and no chance of building one without the
required number of Jewish men. That didnt stop her from organizing a worship
service right on the riverbank perfect for all the baptisms that resulted from
her church start. And her lay efforts opened the door for full-time missionary
Christians can be called to service just by visiting an area or people group
and seeing the needs. But few things are as frustrating as seeing a need and
not having the knowledge or necessary process to respond. People who sense a
need and feel led to meet it need guidance and structure from on
mission individuals and churches.
Missionaries dont all preach or plant churches. International missionaries
include accountants, farmers, doctors, dentists and business managers. These
missionaries use their skills to meet needs, gain trust and open doors for
sharing the gospel.
When we realize that God can use our vocational skills, our talents, even
our hobbies in His service, were more likely to sense Gods unique call on our
Campers on Mission is an example. People of all ages have
discovered that God can use their love of camping to share Christ with other
campers. Each year, 3,500 campers mix recreation with spreading the gospel.
Last year, more than 1,500 people came to know Christ as a direct result of the
Campers on Mission ministry.
Tomorrows mission force is in your church today, and youre part of it. The
question isnt whether God is calling you out. The question is to what extent.
Whether Hes leading you to become an on mission Christian. Or to make
a few comfort changes. Or to make reaching people for Christ your career.
Whatever Hes leading you to do, will you join Him in His plan? A major factor
in responding is your reason for doing so. Henry learned this years ago from
Henrys 8-year-old son first saw the fabric and to him it was wonderful, just
right for his dad.
"Mom, can we buy this and make something for Dad?" Thinking quickly and
creatively, Henrys wife said, "It would be perfect for pajamas."
So thats how Henry got pajamas with frogs of all colors on them. He wore
them cautiously, making sure his son knew he appreciated them and that no one
else knew he owned them.
Until a cold night in November. Henry and his wife were reading in bed,
waiting for their teenaged daughter to come home from a date. Suddenly, they
heard a noise outside their window. They looked out to see their daughter and
her date being harassed by the six-foot quarterback from their high school.
As the voices grew louder, Henry told his wife, "Im going out there."
Immediately, she saw him race from the room, the colors on his frog pajamas a
blur as he ran.
Henrys wife watched as he shook his fist in the face of the boy who was six
inches taller and 75 pounds heavier. The surprised young man got in his car and
As a triumphant Henry entered the house, his wife could hardly wait to ask,
"How did you have the nervefrog pajamas and allto stand up to that big guy?"
Henrys immediate reply: "Love makes us bold!" Does your love for Jesus Christ
make you bold enough to say, like Samuel, "Speak, Lord. Im listening. Im ready
to join Your plan for my life, regardless of what that means"?
Mary Branson is marketing director of the North American Mission
Resources to help you answer your call
Feeling Gods call to a lifestyle of on mission activity and
possibly even full-time missionary service? The following resources can help
you get off to a good start.
For more infomation about how NAMB can help you pursue your on
mission calling, contact "Answer the Call" at 770-410-6473, email email@example.com or visit us on the Internet at
To discover mission opportunities you can take part in, call 800-462-VOLS
(8657) or request one or more of the following resources: OnSite
(770-410-6457); or Studentz.com (770-410-6461 or visit on the Net at studentz.com)
To learn more about mission education or to find out how to start mission
education at your church, call 770-410-6448.
NAMB also produces many print and media resources that can help you and your
church remain on mission throughout the year. To request a copy of The
NAMB Resource Catalog, call 770-410-6247.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC