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The Call

Are you called to serve?

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Missionary service. It sounds good. Nevertheless, once people are on the field trying to adjust, learn a new language and respond to the environment, they begin to understand how tough it is. And that’s only the beginning. How do people stay despite the hardship? The reason is that they are called. For someone to do well in missions, he or she must have a clear calling. There are at least four major elements to this sense of calling.

Active Availability

The spirit of availability applies to every serious believer. Each one of us must have the willingness to be, and do, anything God wants. The prophet Isaiah demonstrated this attitude when he said, “Here am I. Send me!” He did not demand that God send him but presented himself as utterly available. Sometimes we may say we are available but do not take active steps to obey. It is very easy to respond to a call for service but then place limitations on our obedience. Active availability demands a measure of flexibility that our culture often does not condone. We are told to negotiate for our rights. Obeying God demands a measure of trust and faith. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price.

Divine Equipping

God made each of us unique. With different talents, personalities and gifts, we each have our place in the Body of Christ. As Paul observes, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. . . . It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:7,11). We do not all have the same “grace.” An important part of calling is understanding and accepting how God has equipped us.

In an intercultural setting, some of us are like ducks in water. When we hit the new culture, we just dive in and feel at home. We were made for the water of missionary living. Others of us are more like a cat in a pond. We do not have the basic equipment to live with the constant change and ambiguity of living cross culturally.

Divine equipping prepares a person to adjust and prosper in a certain setting. One’s true calling will complement Godgiven talents, personality and skills. That is not to say that we do not grow as we serve obediently. I have joked with my colleagues that I am not sure I would have appointed myself as a missionary. It took a great deal of time to develop my “inner duck.” However, as I obeyed God and allowed Him to shape me, living overseas became natural and comfortable.

Deep Assurance

Moving beyond availability to personalize our call involves inner assurance and active faith to obey God’s Word. In God’s leading and our obeying, He eventually gives us a deep sense of inner “assurance” that a certain path is right for us. Deep assurance can be misunderstood and over-individualized, but we need it, especially when the going gets tough. It is an attitude that says, “God, I am yours. I am available and am taking steps of faith to the best of my ability to discern your voice. I believe that this is the direction you want me to go.” Whether we call this the inner witness of the Spirit or assurance or “the call,” it is the deep-rooted conviction that we are on the path God has chosen.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed with choices. We are afraid we will somehow miss the mark. This could be called “guidance gridlock.” In Western culture, we have so many choices that we constantly compare the value of our options. I have seen good candidates get so concerned with all the options that they locked up. The key to breaking out of guidance gridlock is to trust God by faith and allow Him to bring that witness of peace and assurance to our hearts.

Clear Confirmation

A final element is clear confirmation. Individuals can be easily misled. That is why God has placed us in communities of faith. In Acts 13, the Spirit confirmed to the church that they should set apart Paul and Barnabas “for the work to which I have called them.” The church provides the objective witness of our call. The encouragement missionary candidates receive from their home churches is part of this confirmation.

The accreditation process used by the C&MA is another confirmation. This process seeks a consensus of the local churches, the districts, International Ministries and the individual. It is a verification of active availability, divine equipping and deep assurance through the clear confirmation of the Body. What a witness!

As you reflect upon God’s purpose for your life, do you see these elements in your journey? The Alliance is not looking for volunteers. We are looking for called people. Could you be one of them?

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