My Giftedness (or Lack Thereof)
My heroes have always been missionaries. (Okay, I admit that is just an altered line from a Willie Nelson song.) Whether it be Hudson Taylor pioneering in China, or Lilly Trasher in Egypt or Amy Carmichael in China or Brother Andrew in smuggling into many countries or Bruchko in Columbia… I love these stories. They inspire and motivate me. But…
But when it comes to going, I think I know my gifts (and lack of gifts.) When I think of mission fields, I don’t relish the thought of me and my 50-year-old-man-bladder pulling over on the side of a dirt road to water the Serengeti. (Full discloser: I would love to visit Africa.) I don’t like “roughing it.” Perhaps that is a lack of spirituality on my part or a weakness in my dedication to the cause, but I think it is a realistic picture of myself. As a former youth minister, I have spent over 1 year of my life at camp. So I think I am informed enough to say: if I have to put shoes on to go to the bathroom, I don’t like it. I can do it, but I don’t like it. Yes, if I had a very specific call from God – think Macedonian Vision – I would obediently answer that call to wherever He was sending me.
However, examining myself and my gifts, I think I would be better in a modern urban setting. I don’t think I am alone in this. I think there are many who only see model mission fields as compounds, isolation, and developing countries. Or perhaps tiptoeing around in closed countries, covertly sneaking Jesus into what they hope are safe conversations. Please understand, I am not discounting these as important mission fields. I have friends on those fields. If our Father has put this burden on someone’s heart, the last thing I want to do is put any doubt in his or her mind.
I just don’t think enough consideration is being given, in modern missiological models, to Europe. There are a lot of potential missionaries out there who would mesh well and be successful in Germany or France or Romania, but those places aren’t in the 10/40 window or full of starving children of color. Few leaders are encouraging these potential missionaries to contemplate Europe.
There are a lot of myths about missions in Europe. (See 7 Myths of European Missions.) According to Operation World, Europe is the least Christian continent. Many see Europe only as slow, expensive, and already reached. However, that can be true in developing countries and in closed countries.
Let me give a quick argument for Europe. What if:
- It’s not more expensive than other mission fields? (You don’t have to build a compound.)
- You begin on a team with nationals? (No transferring leadership into national hands.)
- You have local guides into the culture?
- It’s not slower that most other fields?
- You work in a large city (population over 100,000) that has no other Bible-believing church in it, yet Bibles are readily available in the local language?
- You can go with an organization that actually began in Europe and is based there?
Europe is a natural place for my gift set. I think that is true for many others. Consider the calling!
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