From Latin missiō, from mittere to send (Collins English Dictionary, 2003).
”What is a missionary?” I asked the class. One of the guys on the front row said: ”It’s a person that hears God’s voice and acts on it.” An older woman in the back said: ”It is someone who is willing to go places.”
I then asked: ”What is the difference between a Christian and a missionary, then?”
I had gone down to Port YWAM, located by the pier in Kona, with my friend Joseph as he was heading up the last day of teaching the Discipleship Training School (DTS). He had been teaching on a Biblical Worldview for the week and was rounding up his teaching by introducing the idea of spheres in our societies. As some would say there are seven spheres: Economical, Educational, Family, Celebration, Government, Media and Religion. We are all influenced by these spheres to some extend and we are all able to influence them if we search to do so.
Having my feet planted in many of these spheres, Joseph asked me to share with the class my experience with these spheres.
I don’t have a formula. I can’t tell you how you should influence the spheres of society you are mostly in contact with. But I can ask you the same question that I asked the students in the class: “What is a missionary?”
If I believe that a missionary is a person that “hears God’s voice and act on it”, then a missionary is no different from other Christians.
If “going somewhere”, “being sent somewhere” is not an act of obedience to the one who is sending you then I’ll admit I have a wrong understanding of what it means “to act”.
I don’t think any Christian will define themselves as people that “hears God’s voice and DON’T act on it.”
I believe that God calls all people. I know Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” and I believe that’s an invitation to live a life, looking for the opportunities that arise daily in sharing the Gospel. I don’t think Jesus would invite us to “go and make disciples” if it was impossible to do. Our lives can be examples of the Gospel in many ways. We can be examples through the way we talk to our next-door neighbor, the way we bless the mailman when he comes by and the way we talk to our co-workers.
What if a missionary is a person who walks out the door everyday knowing that God sent them to influence the spheres they work and live in? What if a missionary is a regular churchgoer, who on weekdays lives out what is being preached on Sundays? What if a missionary is just an ordinary Christian who knows God and makes Him known?