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Missions: Passion or Pastime?

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I wanted two things for Christmas—a globe and a Ginny doll. For an eight-year-old girl, the Ginny doll was understandable. She came with a lot of cute outfits that promised hours of fun and imagination. The globe, however, was not a typical request for a young girl who got her only bad grade in geography. But I was part of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the world was our mission field—and so I wanted a globe.

Hearing that Dr. Simpson had been seen deep in prayer, weeping over the globe, had a lasting impact on me. Also, I knew that on that sphere were all the places where God might call me to go, and I wanted to see where they were. I knew, even at that young age, that missions was the passion of The Alliance, and it was a passion I longed to share.

A few years ago I heard a young pastor answer a question that related to the role of missions in The Alliance. “Missions? That’s kind of our thing in The Alliance. It’s what we do.” His response conveyed a troubling idea, that missions is our Alliance pastime—“our thing.” Another pastor defended his choice not to have an Alliance Women’s group in his church by saying, “We don’t do missions.” I guess pastimes are optional.

Many of you share my memories of Missions Conferences where our international workers wept as they shared their burden for the lost people of their particular field. I remember sitting on the floor playing quietly as a group of “old ladies” (from my childish perspective) knelt before chairs with workers’ letters in front of them, reading and praying passionately for the needs presented. I remember listening to international workers who lived in remote areas, who traveled on dangerous roads, who spent months and years away from family and friends. They lived without the modern conveniences of our culture and the security of doctors and hospitals. These were the stories of men and women driven by a passion, not engaging in a pastime.

Missions has changed because the world has changed. Many international workers now find themselves in places of “comfort and ease”: they have many of the comforts of home and an ease of communication that allows them to keep in touch with family and friends. Those changes, however, shouldn’t impact the driving force behind our Great Commission endeavor. The man with the cell phone and laptop in the “mission field” of this century is just as lost without Christ as the man with no knowledge of a world beyond the neighboring village. And that reality needs to still make us weep over the globe.

Missions has changed, but for all of us, whether we “pray, give or go,” the passion that is the driving force behind missions dare not be altered. Our motivation cannot be simply to engage in an Alliance pastime. We need to believe in the frightening reality of hell—of an eternity spent apart from God. We need to be driven by a passion that earnestly believes that we have a glorious and wonderful message of hope to bring and be zealous in our endeavor to complete God’s command to share it with all of the world. We need to share the heart of our founder, who loved the world and wept over the lost. It was the heart of God reflected through the heart of a man.

We can “do” missions. It is what we’re good at in The Alliance. But can we do it effectively without it being born out of a passion that will still weep over the world? Scripture tells us that Christ is not willing that any should perish. And I believe that He is deeply passionate about that. Are we willing to share His heart as we continue to reach out to the lost around the world with the only message of eternal hope?

My globe is long gone, but as I’ve been writing these words, I’ve had to prayerfully confess that much of my early passion is also gone. To rephrase a question asked by Joseph John Doke (as reported by F. W. Boreham in Lover of Life): How can we prevent the evaporation of our early consecration, the fading of our youthful ideals? The answer is clear: We must draw close enough to the heart of God that we share His love and passion for people. Missions is the natural outgrowth of that closeness and the necessary response to that love.

Missions is not an “Alliance thing.” It’s not even a “Simpson thing.” Missions is a “God thing,” and we only have to look at Calvary to see how deeply passionate He is about it. May God stir our—my—heart to share that passion. “Santa” brought me a globe. Christ wants to bring me the world and to share in His passionate desire that no one should perish.

Lost people matter to God, he wants them found. Luke 19:10

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