A missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ was sent by God. A missionary’s purpose isn’t serving the needs of humanity; it’s obeying the command of Jesus: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

The inspiration for the missionary’s work lies behind, not before. Today, the tendency is to put the inspiration out front; we look forward to our own success. In the New Testament, the inspiration for doing God’s work is found in Jesus Christ, in what he has already accomplished. The missionary’s ideal is to be true to the Lord and to carry out his enterprises.

Personal attachment to Jesus and his point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked in the missionary’s work. The great danger is in getting so wrapped up in people’s needs that our sympathy drowns out God’s call and overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus. Humanity’s needs are so enormous, and the conditions of human life so perplexing, that every power of mind falters and fails when confronted with them. It’s easy to forget that the great reason for the missionary enterprise isn’t educating people or meeting their needs but first and foremost obeying the command of Jesus Christ.

When looking back on the lives of missionaries who seem to have risen to every challenge and perplexity, we have the tendency to say, “What wonderful wisdom they had! How perfectly they understood what God wanted!” It wasn’t human wisdom at all; the astute mind behind what they did was the mind of God. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to divine guidance. If any man or woman seems to possess divine wisdom, it’s because they were childlike and simple enough to trust the supernatural guidance of God.

Wisdom from Oswald

To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the blood and passion of personal life. Disciples Indeed, 387 R