“I am now in Pakistan and teaching the Word of God to a group of people, but as I teach them the Bible, soldiers stand on the roof of the Church and guard us from terrorist attacks.” This was the message I once received from my dear teacher and mentor, Vasile Filat. Through this man’s teaching and example, God has always motivated me to become a good missionary. Today, together with my dear wife, Oxana, we are missionaries in an Islamic country, where we joyfully serve our Almighty God.
Below I would like to give 10 tips to those who want to become missionaries as well.
1.You need a teacher
You may be surprised that I started with this advice, but I want you to know and understand what a great blessing it is to have teachers who can teach you and guide you step by step! I am a man who receives such a blessing and I, in turn, seek to be a blessing to others. Someone once tried to criticize me, saying: “Why do you talk so much about your teachers, Vasile Filat, Mia and Costel Oglice? Why do you give them so much respect, for all the glory is God’s? ” Truly, all glory is God’s, and He made them all. But our God, who is Wonderful and Righteous in everything He does, in our formation and preparation, loves to use people and these are our teachers and mentors – people who have let themselves be used by Him, who have sacrificed and sacrifice themselves with their time, their health and, often, even with their money to train and equip you, to be worthy of any good work. By being thankful for your teachers, you are, in fact, thanking God, who used them to bring you to Him, to train you, and to equip you according to the job He has called you to do.
In the Holy Scriptures we find many beautiful examples of teacher and disciple, such as: Moses and Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, David and Solomon, Paul and Timothy, Paul and Epaphroditus, etc. Your teacher must be more spiritually mature than you, a man who is able to counsel you according to God’s Word. The teacher is good when he lives what he teaches you. If he does not, he is disqualified from the list of mentors and teachers according to God’s will. One thing is clear: that you cannot become a good missionary without a mentor or teacher who will teach and guide you through the whole process.
2.Be a missionary at home
Start doing a mission in your family, in your city, in the country where you were born. Share the Gospel no matter where you are, confess the Lord Jesus to every creature, but first to those in your home.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”(Acts 1:8 NASB)
If you don’t do it in your family, why would you do it in another distant country? If you find excuses here for not preaching the Lord Jesus, you will find even more excuses there. So seek to be a light where God has placed you now. The test is given at home. Jesus said:
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much”(Luke 16:10 NASB)
3.Put a priority on preparation
Together with my wife, after receiving the Lord Jesus, until the day we went as missionaries to a country in the Muslim world, we underwent a preparation for our spiritual maturity. When I speak of preparation, I mean equipping, where Bible study motivates you and directs you to a righteous experience before God. Together with our teachers, we systematically studied the Holy Scriptures according to the inductive method at the International Institute for Inductive Bible Study. At the Institute, the desire to be a missionary was ignited more and here we were trained in this regard.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite all those who read this article to come to the Institute of Biblical Studies and to have the same blessings that I received. Motivate yourself to walk and thus enjoy what God can teach you through His Word!
4.Do not run away from the call that is made to you
As children of God, we have all been called to go and perform the work of reconciliation. The apostle Paul, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 5:18-20, says:
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NASB)
It is not a question of whether or not you are called to be a missionary. If you have been reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus, you have also received the call. The question is, “What are you doing, accepting or rejecting God’s call to you?”
We know a man in the Bible who, when God called him to go to the city of Nineveh to carry the message from Him, he, instead of going to Nineveh, boarded the ship and went to Tarsus, in the opposite direction. I think you realize I’m talking about the prophet Jonah. And we know what the Bible says next, that when Jonah ran away from God’s call, as a result he ended up in the stormy sea and then in the fish’s belly. Do not wait for God, in order to convince you to go on a mission, to bring the storm into your life and then the fish to swallow you. In fact, today, some of God’s children no longer run to Tarsus to dodge the call, but have found another method, which seems more “repentant” than that of Jonah, namely, empty apologies. These are reasons, which even if they seem to make sense in the eyes of men, yet before God they lose their meaning and I will talk more about this in the next point.
5.Be ready to pay the price
I longed to be a missionary, but when I came face to face with the decision to go, at that moment, it made me start making many excuses that made no sense in God’s eyes. It’s as if I still see the evening, when I was coming by car, together with my teacher, Vasile, from Lăpușna to Chisinau. Vasile told me that, together with Sister Mia and Brother Costel, they prayed that God would show them someone who would go to Afghanistan as a missionary for 2 years, and God showed me to them. When I understood how serious it is and that I must go to this country, where the danger of death follows you at every step, then when I understood that I am called to go for at least 2 years – it made me think. I really wanted to be a missionary, but to go for a week or two and then go home, but for 2 years I didn’t want to. I am a person who is very close to home and this, I think, was the biggest reason why I started to give Vasile many reasons why I could not go.
At that time I was not yet married to my dear wife, Oxana, but I was very much in love with her. I had serious intentions for her and I wanted to ask for her hand. Then, I had 5 groups of teenagers, whom I taught Taekwon-Do and the Bible, and I thought that if I left, then there would be no one to continue working with them. Then, I wanted to grow in terms of my Taekwon-Do technique and I understood that, being alone in the mission field, I will not be able to grow too much in terms of Taekwon-Do. I told Vasile all these reasons then, that evening. I still remember what his answer was. He told me, “Alexei, God’s work often requires a sacrifice on our part, and now it’s time to sacrifice for the advancement of the gospel. But know that God can take care of all these things that you worry about.” Then he said to me: “However, the choice is yours. Go home, pray to the Lord, and then make a decision.” Today, looking back, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude to God, that He helped me then not to run away from the call He made to me and that He gave me strength to be ready to pay the price. So, if you want to be a missionary, be prepared to pay the price, which is often not small, but the result will be greater than you see now!
6.Walk by faith
When I went to Afghanistan as a missionary, I knew neither the language nor the culture, and until then I had not met any of the inhabitants of this country. All I knew about this country was that it is a Muslim country, where the danger of death is very high, that it is one of the poorest countries in the world and that there is a lot of filth and disease. However, what I certainly knew was that God is calling me to this country and that I need to walk by faith, even if I didn’t know much about this country.
7.Know the people you go to
Of course it is very good if you can know the history, culture and language of the people even before you go to them. However, from experience, I have seen that, many times, books write something completely different from reality. You best learn the culture of a people by being and living among them. Then you know their habits, their thinking and their very way of being as a people. Then you can learn the best history from people. I agree that there are many good history books, but if you have the opportunity to talk to older people so that they can tell you, then you will find out much deeper things than what you will find written in books. However, you will not be able to really know a people until you learn the language they speak. So, the next tip is:
8.Learn the language
It will, in fact, help you to know the culture and history and much more about the people to whom God calls you to take the gospel. Before going to Afghanistan, together with my teacher, Vasile, I made an action plan. There were some instructions in our action plan that I had to follow throughout my stay there. One of the instructions was to learn the language. Vasile not only told me that I had to learn the language, but he also gave me a deadline in which I had to learn it, namely, for 2 months. I must admit that I was not fully obedient to this chapter and I was almost a month late. So, within two and a half months, almost three, God helped me to learn the language, which later helped me a lot in all the mission work I do there. If you don’t learn the language of the people you go to, you are actually limiting yourself. You always have to depend on someone. Whatever word you speak, someone has to translate it for you, and most of the time, the translator will not be able or willing to convey exactly the message you want to convey. Then, people will never be able to come directly to you with their problems, pains and even their joys, because between you and them there will always be an obstacle, namely, the language.
9.Maintain good communication with your mentors
I can’t put into words how beneficial it was that I always knew how to communicate regularly with my teachers. They always knew how to advise me, to direct me, even if I was not with them. If you remember, in advice no. 1 I wrote that the teacher should advise and give directions. How can you receive these tips and directions when you are not with them? Good communication, be it through the internet or the telephone, helps you to receive these directions and advice. It helps your teachers teach you even when they don’t see you face to face.
10.Don’t forget your call
Recently, a friend told me about a couple he knew personally and who are missionaries in a Muslim country. This couple have been missionaries in that country for 5 years now, but when asked if they confessed the Lord Jesus to those people, they replied, “No, we do not pronounce the word ‘Jesus,’ and we in general we talk about God very little, because it is dangerous. We focus mostly on building relationships.” You have been building relationships for 5 years, but if you have not told people about the possibility of reconciling with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then consider that all your work to build relationships is in the wind and the result will also be only wind.
My dear reader, I pray that this article will ignite in your heart a flame of desire to become a missionary. If you have read point four of this article well, then you have understood that you, if you have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, are already a missionary. I pray that God will bless you with a teacher who will guide and teach you, and then discipline yourself to study God’s Word systematically, so that you do not run away and never forget your calling!
Translated by Olya Trikolich