This post from Tori just touched my heart this morning - just as we were walking out the door to church. Tori, a missionary wife to Croatia, tells about their day yesterday ministering in a village of gypsies. These are the "forgotten people" of Europe, the ones that no one wants, the ones everyone is ashamed of. I sat and cried as I read her account. I cried for 2 reasons. One is because several came to Christ for salvation yesterday, tears of rejoicing.
The other reason is rather complicated. Tori and her husband are the only independent Baptist missionaries in the entire country of Croatia. ONE independent Baptist, Gospel-preaching, soulwinning church. ONE. This family can only reach a certain number of people, even if they spend every minute of every day ministering, witnessing, preaching, and teaching (which is impossible). There are thousands of the Roma (Gypsy) people living in their area. They need help reaching them all, but there's no one to help. Several missionaries have planned to come and help them, but for one reason or another, most will not be coming. One family is still planning to come, but they have to spend years raising the support needed to live there.
Now. Take this one village in Croatia, with only one missionary working there, and multiply that by all the thousands of villages in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, North America (yes, even North America - there are plenty of "forgotten people" in North America). No one who is saved can deny the need for missionaries around the world. Now think about this. There are more Baptist churches - we're not just talking the "Christian" religion in general here - there are more Baptist churches in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex than there are in the entire country of Canada. Yes, I said the entire country of Canada, and Canada is a modern, industrialized nation - a "Christian" nation, if you please. It seems that the southern US has a monopoly on the Gospel. A church on every corner. But there are parts of the US that have no churches; parts of Canada have no churches. And that's a tragedy. But how much more tragic it is that many entire countries, entire provinces, entire geographical regions have NO missionary or only ONE missionary! Praise the Lord for that one that answers God's call, but how many more hear a similar call but don't go? Is it fear? Apathy? Comfort? How many children hear God's call, but Mama convinces them it's just their emotions all worked up? How many husbands hear God's call, but Wife refuses to leave Mama or house or familiar home church? We sit down in our comfortable churches and put our hands over our ears, singing "la la la la la" to keep out the cries of those around the world who will never hear the Gospel.
No, I don't believe that everyone has to be a missionary, but I do believe that everyone should be willing to be a missionary. I realize that our family is not in a deprived nation, we don't live in a grass hut or collect rain water to drink. We didn't have to learn a new language or travel halfway around the world to get here. We didn't give up a whole lot materially to become missionaries to Canada. All I know is that God called us to this place. And I believe God is calling to other places around the world; we're just not listening, or if we hear Him we choose to do nothing about it. As a missionary myself, I beg you to listen to God's call. Volunteer, even! If God doesn't want you to go to another country, He'll let you know, and you can serve wholeheartedly where you are. But don't ignore the call! And if you can't go, you can give so that others can go. It takes an average of 3 years to get a missionary to the field, because so many churches just can't afford to support missionaries (I'm speaking of independent Baptists, the only group I know about personally). At the very least, ask God to send laborers to help in the field.
As I've thought about this today, the Lord has convicted me of a couple of things. One is my unwillingness to go soulwinning because I'm not comfortable - people shut their doors in my face, or say unkind things (whine, whine, whine). The other is my tendency to pick and choose who I want to talk to, depending on whether they look like they'd be open to the Gospel. It's my job to GO, my job to speak to all I can. Even those of us who go have trouble doing right!