What Do You Want in a Missionary?

by Judi Chow 

I was greatly impacted by an article in EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly) Vol. 40, No.3 titled “What I Want in a Missionary.” It was written by a pastor of a church in the States who supports missionaries and promotes missions. He described the result of their recent missions-emphasis week as follows, “When he [the missionary] was done, people were impressed—but not moved.” He then continued to give some very thoughtful ideas how to build disciples with a global vision. I am thankful for the honesty of this pastor’s sharing and his desire in wanting to partner with the missionaries so more God-fearing missionaries can grow from his church.

What this pastor said about the result of that missionary’s sharing touched a tender nerve in me, since I am a missionary and have to share during missions conferences in different churches also. I cannot help but ask myself- have I inadvertently tried to impress people with the results or events on the mission fields instead of allowing the Spirit to move in their hearts? I have heard of missionaries (long and short termers) who told of miraculous wonders in winning numerous people to Christ in an unbelievably short period of time. I have seen missionaries boast about the ministries they’ve built and how many orphans they’ve helped, and they are thankful to the Lord to make it happen, of course. Yes, very impressive indeed!

What moves people? It is not the numbers, not the budgets, not the buildings, not even how smart, how hardworking, or how poor the missionary is. But what does it have to do with me, the average, everyday Christian sitting in the pew listening? Do I want to be like that missionary? Can I be? Where is God in the whole picture? Is He the center of focus or on the sideline? If I ask you, what do you want in a missionary? Do you know what it would be? Some of the suggestions that pastor suggested are: hearts that break for the lost, devoted to serving others, and committed to the power of prayer. May the Lord help all of us missionaries, pastors, and everyday Christians, in reminding us who the One is sustaining our lives, who is in charge in every aspect of our being, and ultimately who is the only one who can make everlasting changes in people’s lives.