I have an exercise to serve the Lord in a mission area. How do I proceed?
As we read through the book of the Acts, we find an example of two men who would be called by God to serve outside of their local area. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:1-2).
One of the first things we notice in these verses is that the two men whom God would use to take the gospel to many parts of the known world were occupied with serving in their local church in Antioch. The mission field needs men who are willing to serve (minister). These two men, Barnabas and Saul, were obviously gifted since we read that they were both prophets and teachers. The mission field needs gifted men. They were also praying men. Although they are not mentioned specifically in verse 2, we know that prayer and fasting go hand-in-hand in the New Testament. The mission field requires praying men. We also notice that the Holy Spirit made it obvious to all that He was calling them “for a work.” The mission field needs men who have been called by God.
We notice that the other men in leadership in Antioch were not surprised by this call from God. It was a recognition that God was changing Paul and Barnabas’s sphere or location of service. When the time comes to share the exercise of a believer with the assembly regarding their exercise to serve on the mission field, none ought to be surprised, having already observed the exercise in a local sphere.
So, ask yourself these questions: Am I serving in some capacity in my local assembly? Has my gift been recognized in the local assembly? Am I a praying believer? Do I sense that it is God Who has called me, and not some “romantic notion” of serving on the mission field? Would others in the assembly be surprised that I have an exercise to serve in another sphere of service?
Assembly overseers should be praying for each believer in the assembly, that God will use them in the way He wishes to, and that God will make it clear what that sphere of service is. They should be discerning which believers are gifted in ways that can be used in a public sphere and should encourage opportunities to see that gift developed. There should be a desire on the part of the entire assembly that someone would be called by God to be used by Him to take the message of the gospel farther afield. When this is the case, it is not surprising when overseers approach a believer to express their confidence in him.
Approach the oversight and ask them to pray for you, and express your desire to be used of God and directed by God. Tell them that you feel that He may be calling you to a special field of service. Seek the counsel of these godly men. If you have never visited the area that is a burden to you, they may suggest that. It is always helpful if you have been in contact with any missionaries in the area of exercise prior to this, not expressing necessarily your exercise, but finding out about the work, the needs, and praying about it.
There is a dearth of men being called to the work of God in full-time capacity. Remember that a burden does not constitute a call, but a burden may result in a call. Remember, too, that the Lord Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” The very same men who were to pray this way in Matthew 9 are those whom He “sent forth” in Matthew 10:5! Those who pray for the mission field sometimes end up being the ones who are sent. For these men in Matthew 9, the answer came quickly. Patience is important in your case as you work and pray together with your oversight regarding this important decision.
– Marcus Cain