Monday, November 30, 2009

Improvements In Missionary Life

In October I celebrated 11 years of being a missionary in Germany. I truly enjoy what I am doing here and feel privileged to be able to share the truth of God's Word with people in our Bible schools, church, home groups, and in various other settings. Recently I was thinking about how much things have changed for me in these 11 years and beyond that how much things have improved for missionaries over the years.

One thing that I like to do is read. I have read about other great missionaries like George Muller and Hudson Taylor. There is another missionary I read about who I think has the best name for a missionary, "Jonathan Goforth". With a name like that I guess you just have to leave home and go somewhere else. All three of these men, and their families, left everything and everyone that they knew to go to another country and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I have read about these people and others like them I think that those of us who follow God's direction to go to another country today have it pretty easy by comparison.

Muller, Taylor, and Goforth all lived during the 1800s. They did not have the luxury of flying on an airplane to their destination; they all had to sail on ships and some of their trips lasted for months! None of these people had email, Facebook, Twitter, or even the Internet to keep in contact with others or to find resources to help them in their work. I can use the telephone or Skype to talk with family and friends without any difficulties and these early missionaries spent months and often years without having any contact with family or friends. Just this past week, I have had contact through the Internet or by phone with people on every continent, except Antarctica, and that was not possible for these early missionaries. Besides that, I am using a computer to write this blog and I use it for much of my work also; when I first came to Germany I did not even have a computer and I know that computers were not available in the 1800s!

No matter what anyone does to follow God's plan for their life there will be challenges and some sacrifices to be made. There is always a price to pay for serving God but the rewards always make it worth it! When I look at the improvements that have come for people who serve as missionaries I am very thankful for living in the day and age that I do. I know that no matter what circumstances we face that God will always make a way for us to succeed. But I am glad that there are many natural obstacles that I do not have to face today as many of my predecessors did and I am grateful for their hard work and sacrifice that paved the way for missionaries like me.


Steve Smart said...

Great post, Jim.

It's true that today's missionaries benefit greatly from modern inventions. My computer was a lifeline for me when I was in the Philippines.

On the other hand, I've seen modern missionaries take risks and make important sacrifices. According to my observation, the average missionary from the US has a lower standard of living in work and retirement than their stateside peers. Good thing you have an eternal reward.

Praying for your increase,
Steve & Sharon

Unknown said...

Hi Jim,

thanks for the interesting article and a new name to explore : Goforth! :))

Have you ever read about Amy Carmichael - certainly something worthwhile on that line. see: "A chance to die" by Elisabeth Elliot.

And .. thanks for being in Germany for 11 years now . WOW