Why Go?

why+go+news+banner.jpgThursday 30 May 2024 06:00

As far as inspiring speeches go, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961 was one of the best. His most famous line, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” beautifully encapsulated the spirit of service and sacrifice woven throughout the speech. However, what came next are the often-overlooked final words of his speech, which are in many ways more powerful:

(This article is the third instalment of a series on MISSION; Praying, Giving…Going)

“With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.”

Without delving into the complexities of American patriotism and civic religion, what JFK espouses here is an understanding of the delicate balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. God is indeed the ultimate peace maker, doing his ‘work’ of reconciling a sinful world to himself through the preaching and proclamation of the gospel. But he also gives us a role to play…

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth… for we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6.9).

Proclaiming this message of reconciliation is the job of the church between Christ’s first coming and his return. ‘Missions’ is therefore the work we all do when we share the gospel, so in a very real sense it is the job of all believers. But doing ‘missions’ work in your local context is quite different to the unique role of preaching the gospel where the Lord Jesus isn’t yet known or widely worshipped. 

Being a ‘missionary’ usually requires both intentionality and movement. In the broadest sense of the term, the ‘Apostles’ were those who were sent out by Jesus. Linguistically, this sent-out-ness is also the first thing we should factor into the term missionary. It is, after all, the first thing Jesus notes about his own mission – that he was sent to proclaim a message of good news (Luke 4:18). Missionaries are those who have been sent from one place so that they might go somewhere else for the gospel.

Paul is perhaps our best Biblical example of a ‘missionary’:

“My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoke of in the Scriptures, where it says, Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand” (Romans 15:20-22 NLT).

From this definition, it’s clear that not everyone can be a missionary. But everyone can have a part in the bigger task of the Great Commission—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilising others. So the question for all of us is… where do I fit in; how can God use me?

Matthew George, ECM Australia Executive Director explains, 

“I think the Bible encourages us as individual believers to be fully engaged in God’s mission and so all should rightly consider whether that means ‘go'. The church’s responsibility, and more importantly the church/mission agency, is to single out and send suitable Christians.” 

Serving in ministry and working vocationally should reveal our strengths and weaknesses. Aligning ourselves with God’s purpose in the world requires knowing ourselves well. ECM missionaries Rich and Ali, currently serving in Germany, noticed through their love for music they were able to connect with people who would normally never visit a church. Ali says it was apparent early on that they were evangelists, a gift that is always helpful on the mission field. But ironically, she says their ministry has now changed shape and ‘they are very much pastoring!’

God has put elders (or pastors) in the church to teach and shepherd the flock, identifying gifts, strengths, and weaknesses in ministry. This shepherding involves one-on-one counsel and guidance to those under their care who are in the midst of making big decisions; like moving to the mission field. For Christian leaders, the task is to “prepare God’s people for works of service, that we all might reach unity in the faith, becoming mature and attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-14). Just as biblical missions results in churches, the church is ordained to produce missionaries. 

Ali says she had an interest in missions at a young age, reading missionary biographies and avidly listening to the stories of visiting missionaries at church. Becoming aware of what a privilege it was to grow up in an Australian Christian context, with 14% evangelicals compared to 2.5% in Europe, Rich also says the Lord used short term opportunities as part of his journey onto the mission field for the long run:

“I went to Turkey in 2001 (with my Christian jazz band) and the Lord used this short-term mission to open my eyes to the needs of the Gospel going out to all nations. And, for me, the conviction was not to stay in Sydney for the rest of my life.”

Jennifer G, ECM Missionary in Romania, says she also had her interest piqued in missions as a teenager and was encouraged by her parents to join a short-term mission. This, she says, is when God opened the door for her…

“I sent off a letter (it was 1998) to each of the mission agencies my father had given me contact details for, but I unfortunately heard nothing from any of them. But in a chance/preordained encounter my older sister ended up sitting next to Andrew Collins, the then director of International Teams, and she shared my desire to investigate missions. International Teams started sending me their newsletters, in one of which was an invitation to join them on their first ever short-term mission to Greece to help out with a refugee ministry in Athens. So, I talked with my parents and we prayed and I applied. In December 1998, I joined the Australian team for 3 weeks. But I then extended my time in Athens and stayed on with the resident team for almost 3 months. It was during those 3 months I was ‘bitten by the bug’ of cross-cultural missions.”

So being ‘called’ to missions can look like different things to different people; conversations, answers to prayer, words of encouragement, affirmation of God’s gifting and guiding, along with the conviction of scripture.

As JFK explained, ‘God’s work must truly be our own’. Under the sovereignty of God, there is no question as to whether all Christians are involved in ‘missions.’ But the question of whether God is ‘calling’ you to be a missionary is also not the primary point, as ECM National Director Matt George explains:

“The big question is working out whether you are suitable to be sent. All disciples are workers in God’s harvest field (Mt 9:37-38) - the issue is what sort of worker to send for the sake of the gospel overseas. It’s the job of pastors in the church (with the help of a mission organisation or Bible College in many cases) to help Christians work through that issue.” 

In the meantime, assuming you are already helping in the sending, are you suitable to be sent?

“How are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15).

Please pray…

  • That the Lord of the harvest raises up workers for the harvest in Europe where the resources are few.

  • That pastors in New Zealand would train, equip, and empower future missionaries

  • That Christians in New Zealand would consider the call to go and make sure they are people worthy of that calling.


Sam Boog is communications and media trained and has a particular passion for the gospel needs of Europe. She lives in western NSW with her husband and four daughters.


1. https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/inaugural-address-19610120

2. DeYoung, Kevin, “The Goal of Missions and the work of Missionaries” The Gospel Coalition, www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/goal-missions-work-missionaries/

3. ABWE Canada “A Guide for the Journey”, abwe.org/resources/documents/guide-journey-downloadable-booklet/

4. Mission Quest, “What missionaries need to consider before going to the mission field”, https://missionquest.org/what-missionaries-need-to-consider-before-going-to-the-mission-field/

5. ABWE Canada

6. Figures from Joshua Project

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