The Making of a Missionary

As a mission organization, TIME Ministries’ purpose is to connect you with local churches where God is working.  Right now, those local churches on which we are focusing are in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.  And while our ministry focuses on short-term missions and bringing groups from the US to partner with churches in our host countries, we couldn’t do any of that if we didn’t have full-time missionaries living in those countries year-round, developing and maintaining relationships and facilities.  The more missionaries we have, the greater the reach and impact of the ministry.  And while the role of a missionary is a noble calling, God uses ordinary Christ-followers to fill those roles.  Throughout the Bible, God has used ordinary men and women to do great things for Him.  I believe that it is a combination of God, having created this person, knowing what this person is truly capable of and the person realizing that they cannot do it without God’s power to fully realize their God-given potential.  All that brings us to the question I would like you to ask yourself, “Should I be a missionary?”  We at TIME realize that it takes three things to become a missionary; a desire, a calling, and training.  Let’s explore all three of those and see if you can answer that question.

Desire is the most superficial of the three.  Many people enjoy their experience on the mission field.  The work is hard but rewarding; the nationals are friendly and appreciative; the group is working toward a common goal in harmony; you’re having an adventure outside the normalcy of everyday life.  What’s not to love.  We have many youths who, right after their trip, express a desire to come back to intern with us, but after getting back to the ‘real’ world only a fraction apply.  This doesn’t make them bad people, just people.  We all do this.  Feelings ebb and flow, sometimes from one moment to the next.  We can’t rely on them for a foundation.  When you get married, the feelings of love are present, but they should not be the foundation on which you build your marriage.  It is the decision to love that person no matter what that’s foundational.  When you become a Christian, you don’t base the foundation of your faith on feelings, but on the truth of God’s Word (II Timothy 3:14-17), on the promise of life through His Son (I John 5:11-13), on the promise of communion with Him through His Holy Spirit now living in you (I Corinthians 2:12-13, Romans 8 – especially vv. 16,17).  It doesn’t matter then if you sometimes don’t ‘feel’ like a Christian, or don’t ‘feel’ God’s presence.  The truth is, you are, and He is.  Now granted, feelings could be a warning sign that we need to work on these relationships, but they don’t negate the relationships.

So, a desire to be a missionary is important, but not foundational.  It’s important because God won’t call you to something you hate.  God created us, specifically and purposefully (Psalm 139).  We are his works of art that He created with the appropriate gifts and talents to accomplish certain things for Him (Ephesians 2:10).  So, if we do what He created us to do, we should find vast satisfaction in it.  But it is based on who He made us to be and what He called us to do.  And yes, we all have the overarching call to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) but who you reach and how you reach them and what you’ll be doing at the time is a very individual calling.  God has made some to be full-time missionaries, but He has also made some to be high school teachers, or lawyers, or assembly line workers, or athletes, or plumbers, or managers, etc., etc.  In the book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan Miller makes the comment that there are many jobs that are available in your career.  But there are also many careers under your calling.  And understanding one’s God-given skills and abilities, personality traits, values, dreams, and passions will help us recognize our individual calling.  So first and foremost, know yourself.  Sure, you may have a desire to be a missionary, but is that what God made you to do?

But we can’t leave it there.  If the first step is to know yourself, the second is to see if anyone agrees with you.  I am very good at rationalizing my decisions, and I am very quick to agree with myself.  It’s called pride, the foundation of every sin.  Satan started it by thinking that he didn’t need God and could run this place himself.  Many cults got their start by someone thinking, I don’t need the church, I can figure this out myself.   All of us have at one time been of the mind that I don’t need God, I can work out what’s best for me.  But we can’t (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Christianity isn’t a solo sport.  We need God, but we need each other as well.  We are not meant to do it alone. The Bible is chock full of ‘one another’ verses.  Love one another (John 13:34-35), bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2), confessing to one another (James 5:16), carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), share with one another (Romans 12:13), restore one another (Galatians 6:1).  And there are many more.  So, when determining your calling, it’s important that you don’t just rely on yourself, but on other’s input as well.  Does your church agree with your calling?  The Holy Spirit spoke to the church to send off Barnabas and Saul.  He didn’t just tell Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:1-3).

You have the desire.  You’ve examined yourself and believe that God made you to go to the mission field.  Your church and other believers agree with this assessment and offer their blessing on your venture.  But you’re hesitant because you don’t know how to be a missionary.  While desire and calling will get you to the field, it’s training that will help you stay there and get the job done.  While the desire and calling are up to God, it’s TIME’s job to handle the training to help you become Bible Centered Leaders.  If God has truly called you to the mission field, He has created you with the capacity and ability to do the job.  You may need to learn a lot, but you can do it.   So back to the original questions, “Should I be a missionary?”  We’ll be here waiting for your answer.

Rick Jacobsen

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

Privilege​ of Ministry

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

In March of 2017, TIME Ministries Dominican Republic, along with our local partner church, Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ), celebrated Dorretta Brown and her 70 years of serving Jesus.  It was in 1947 that she and husband Zeral left for the Dominican Republic to begin a journey that would take them to the DR, Cuba, Mexico and many other countries in Latin America, spreading the Gospel and serving the Lord through many trials and tribulations.

If you’ve read some of the previous TIME blogs, you’ll recall that our other missionaries are also celebrating different lengths of service, five years, 10 years, 20 years, etc.  Cindy and I are celebrating seven years of service this summer, and at first glance that seems like an insignificant amount of time, especially when we compare it to Dorretta’s 70 years of service!  However, God doesn’t want us to compare or envy, but to look to Him for our worth.

It is an awesome privilege to serve with a ministry that has such a rich heritage, and even more so to be able to fellowship with those who were here when the ministry started.  That heritage also comes with a great responsibility to nurture and foster seeds that people have sown and the Lord has grown over the years.  Every day we are faced with decisions that will have earthly and eternal consequences.  Questions such as, how do we grow, how do we evolve, how do we serve more pastors and groups, are our ministries effective, are we changing for change’s sake, are we more efficient, etc.

When looking at a legacy of 70 years, one of two things can happen. Sometimes we put the ministry in a lockbox.  We want to protect it, cherish it, and even prevent God from watering and pruning it to let it evolve.  Change is challenging, and even though I have only been involved in full-time ministry for a short time, a change in attitude, direction, or ministry can be a frightening thing.  While wandering in the desert, how many times did the Israelites wish that they were back in Egypt?

On the other hand, we can run like a bull through a china shop, wanting ministry to go in the direction we want it to go, more “exciting,” envious of what others are doing, and try to establish our own legacy in our own timeframe.  Some fear change, others want nothing but change.

The question to change or not to change is similar to another question we in ministry often ask ourselves.  How do we discern God’s call and direction?  I wish I had the answer!  In my own experience, I did not hear a clarion call from above saying “BECOME A FULL-TIME MISSIONARY.”  Our esteemed founder, Dorretta Brown has offered that “the need is the call.”  Wherever there is a need for service, that is God’s call!  In my own case, I discovered that as my wife and I began to take steps in faith toward full-time ministry, God began to open doors and led us to where we are now.  While we don’t always know the end result of where He wants to send us, we are confident in His process.

I am reminded of the story in Acts 5:34 where Gamaliel is defending the Apostles, saying that if their work is of man, it will not amount to anything, but if it is from God, no one will be able to stop it.  As we look to the future and direction of TIME Ministries, we should take a similar perspective.

Every step should begin with prayer.  Prayer for God’s direction, wisdom, and discernment.  Prayer for open eyes and hearts and minds.  Prayer for His will and patience to wait for the answer.

Then, Ask, Seek, Knock.  Ask yourself, “does this glorify God?”  Ask God, “does this glorify you?”  Start taking steps of faith, walking out on limbs, and take advantage of the things he places before you.  That chance meeting you have with a pastor?  It is not chance.  That person who just so happens to have a connection in Cuba?  Find out more, look back at the steps it took to bring you to where you are now.

Avoid pride and selfish ambition.  Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t doing this, would it still be important to the kingdom?”  Would you personally be willing to remain in your current ministry if the Lord called someone else to be the agent of change or to execute your idea?  Is it solely dependent on you?

What is the end result?  Who is your Timothy?  Are you training someone to take on the responsibility of the ministry long-term when you move on, retire, or go home to be with the Lord?  What is your plan?

In my new role as Site Director in the Dominican Republic, I have the blessed opportunity and humble responsibility to begin asking such questions.  For many years we have wondered if God wants us to expand into Haiti, Cuba and other countries worldwide.  Pastors in many third world countries are in need of chapel style buildings to expand their ministry.  Here in the DR, we knew that TIME had to grow and become more stable, and the original thought was that it would come through more American missionaries.  How wrong we were!  God has raised up qualified Dominican men and women to operate the ministry and this has allowed us to begin asking the first serious questions about TIME’s future outside of Mexico and the Dominican Republic.  In our small, cautious, worldview we first think of places close such as Haiti or Cuba, but who knows?  Kenya?  Thailand?  Ecuador?  Are these the places for continued short-term missions?  Is this the time for TIME?  Please pray with us as we seek Gods will.  Help us if you know of connections in other locations where you think the TIME model would work.  Join us in prayer, financially, or in person as future missionaries if the Lord leads!  And finally, help to hold us accountable to God, and the legacy that Zeral and Dorretta started 70 years ago in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Mexico.

Thank you and God Bless!

Kris Anderson, Site Director

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}