When my wife and I went to Nigeria as long-term missionaries, I did not know what I would be doing. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but going with few innate skills, I wondered how I would be of use as a missionary. My wife had a job as a dorm mom for girls and would be busy with her missionary work. But I found that my desired job was not going to be possible for 7 years!
Few people have gone to be long-term missionaries with fewer innate skills than myself, yet God has managed to use me in numerous ways. If God can use me, He can use anyone who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus. “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” II Cor 3:5
Most Christians seek to please God through their skills and talents.
God wants us to use our skills and let Him make them suitable for the work He will show us. The conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 4 is extremely interesting! God asks Moses, “What is in your hand?” God wants to use what we have to serve Him.
God uses what we think are our weaknesses to serve in ministry.
In verse 10, Moses complains, “I am slow of speech and tongue.” It’s not uncommon for God to take our weakness and make it our strength. So often, God uses our inadequacies to impact others. In this way, we are reminded that it is, “God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” There are no skills or abilities that God can’t use in His whitened harvest fields.
We want to know what we will do. But God directs us step-by-step. Be open to change and learning.
He shows us the next step as we step out in faith, by prayer!
God is a God of unexpected results.
Unexpectedly, God used me to teach Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) at a local government secondary school. That brought me much joy and fulfillment. I met a most amazing set of twins, two young men in their 20’s who called themselves Jacob and Esau! I could never tell them apart! What they taught me was priceless. They were passionate evangelists who showed me a lot about sharing the gospel. It’s just like God to send us to teach, and we become the student! When you go, go as a learner!
Everyone is called to go and make disciples.
We all have a part in making disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the world (Acts 1:8). Notice the connector “and.” It doesn’t say “or.” We’re not to make a choice. We must be involved in all four of those regions. There are diverse ways to be involved – to pray, to give, or to go. I like how John Piper puts it, “Pray, Give, Go, or Disobey.” Not everyone is called to go to a foreign land and do missionary work, but we are all commanded to be a part of the work.
So, to answer the question, “Could I become a long-term missionary?” Yes! Just know that your gifts and skills have little to do with His leading you to long-term missionary work.
After serving as a missionary for nearly 40 years, I can attest to the effectiveness of people who faithfully pray. Perhaps you can be privileged like my wife and me, having spent a career doing all three: praying, giving, and going! There is nothing greater in all the world than serving God by praying, giving, AND going to people who have never heard the Good News that God loves them and has made a way – the only way – for them to join Him in heaven.
My favorite missionary quote comes from Jim Elliot, a missionary who was martyred taking the Gospel to a tribe in Ecuador: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
Born and raised in Africa – about half in Sudan and half in Liberia. My wife and I then served for 13 years in Nigeria. I now help train and mentor new long-term workers through their first term (2-4 years).