Recently, I was challenged by a missionary friend to write a short post answering a question posed by a college aged young man interested in missions. Gladly, I wrote the answer below. It is my desire and prayer that this may help answer someone who might have a similar question concerning the priority of ministry on the foreign field. This is in no way meant to belittle or put down other ministries, but rather to remind us of Christ’s priority ministry and challenge us to follow His example.
“Why do you want to plant churches and train men so badly? I know a lot of good missionaries that are helping people and just share the gospel whenever they can.” – Mark T.
The Bible records two different occasions that Jesus fed the multitudes. However, He spent his entire three year public ministry training 12 men. While we look at feeding the hungry, clothing the weary, and sheltering the homeless as all “good things”; we do not see them as priorities in Christ’s ministry. With the short time we have on this earth (James 4:14), we must invest our time wisely. If we spend our time meeting the temporal needs of the flesh, and neglect the eternal need of salvation of the lost, then we have missed what Jesus commanded of us entirely.
Jesus commanded us to GO, TEACH, BAPTIZE, AND TEACH ALL THINGS. Our job is to go to every corner of the world wielding the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once they accept Christ as their Saviour, we are to baptize them, and disciple them to become mature Christians. For us to accomplish the task of world evangelism, we must use our time training leaders that will follow and obey the command of the Great Commission!
Please do not misunderstand; if building a homeless shelter is a means to preach the gospel and train leaders, then great! Unfortunately, what tends to happen is the daily tasks and needs of the shelter take up all of our time and we never train anyone to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2) I believe that many would rather do ministries that involve “helping people” because it gives them a good feeling. The truth is that training men is not easy. Sometimes, the results are not as quick as filling an empty belly. Sometimes training leaders will exhaust us, physically, emotionally, and financially. However, the eternal rewards are endless when we focus of the task God had given us! When I stand before the Lord, I don’t want to say, “I helped feed 5,000 hungry folks.” Rather, I want to see the fruits of my labor, the souls of men who have trusted Christ, standing before Him to worship, because they heard the gospel and trusted Christ as their Saviour!