Missionary Calling - Foundation for Mission Service

Sherilyn while a Senior in College

Missionary Calling? What's that?, some may ask... There are many different answers given to that question, but I'll give you mine. To me, a missionary calling is the foundation for doing mission work.

What do I mean? I mean that mission work is not a profession a person chooses, I believe mission work is a profession that God chooses for a person. So, when I returned from Puerto Rico in August, 1978, I had a real dilemma on my hands.

I knew I wanted to return to Puerto Rico as a missionary teacher in the fall of 1979, but I didn't know if I had a missionary calling to teach there, or whether it was just something I wanted to do.

I knew I had really enjoyed the summer in Puerto Rico, and that I'd like to go back there to teach, but I didn't know whether God wanted me doing that, or if it was my own idea. What was worse, I didn't know exactly how to find out.

I knew I needed to make a decision by around the end of the year, because early in the next year I would need to start looking for a teaching position somewhere in the States if I weren't returning to Puerto Rico.

So I spent a lot of time thinking, praying, and studying about how to find, and follow, God's will that semester.

Since I'd grown up in a Christian home, my parents determined a lot of God's will for me as a child.

But I had made the decision about what my major should be in college, so this wasn't the first time I'd had to find out what God wanted me to do, nonetheless, it was only the second major decision I'd had to make.

My question was...How could I know if God was giving me a missionary calling? Or to word it differently, was it God's will I go to Puerto Rico to teach, or just mine?

I did a lot of praying!

In fact, what God wanted me to do after graduation was at the front of my mind every day for most of that semester during my daily time with the Lord. I was definitely asking God for wisdom as he tells us to in James chapter one, but for several months, nothing seemed to be happening.

At that time I was reading through the Bible once a year, but in addition, I read one Proverb, and one Psalm every day. I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember the exact passage of Scripture the Lord used to show me His will.

I was reading in Psalms, and that morning I read Psalm 37. Verses three to five say:

  • v.3 Trust in the Lord and do good. Live in the land and feed on the truth.
  • v. 4 Enjoy serving the Lord, and he will give you what you want.
  • v. 5 Depend on the Lord; trust him, and he will take care of you.

    As I read those verses, the Lord brought back to my mind a time in the spring of the year before. It was shortly after the Lord had sent in the money I needed to go on the trip, so everyone knew I would be going.

    It was a beautiful spring day, and as I walked, I was suddenly overcome by a moment of panic! I thought to myself...

    "What have you gotten yourself into? You're going to Puerto Rico on a summer mission team, and with your luck, God will call you to go there as a missionary!"

    (I knew nothing about Puerto Rico, except that it was a tropical island. My only experience with the tropics had been southern Florida, and at that time, I hated southern Florida.)

    "And you'll have to go, because you can't fight with God..."

    (I won't tell you how I'd learned that lesson because this page would become a book, but I had learned it.)

    About that time, I caught myself, and said, "You're just being silly, if God should call you to Puerto Rico as a missionary, You know that He has promised to make everything work together for your good, according to Romans 8:28, so that would be the best thing that could possibly happen to you, why worry about it?"

    And, I just put those fears out of my mind and totally forgot about them...

    Until the Lord reminded me. Then the Holy Spirit said to me...

    "You know, Sherilyn, You're just a little difficult to work with!

    First, you're scared to death to go to Puerto Rico for fear I might call you to go there as a missionary, but because you want to please me, and do my will, you go anyway.

    Then you find out it isn't anything like what you were afraid of...in fact, you love it, and want as much as anything you've ever wanted, to go there, and then you say...

    'Well, I don't know whether this is the Lord's will, or just what I want to do!'"

    And I realized that my situation was exactly what the Psalmist was talking about when He said "Enjoy serving the Lord, and He will give you what you want."

    I realized that my very strong desire to return to Puerto Rico was also the Lord's way of showing me that it was, in fact, what He had intended for me to do, not any natural desire.

    My willingness to go on the summer mission team, even though I didn't think I would like it, had been how God had been able to show me that He wanted me to be there. My willingness to trust Him and obey Him by going on the team, allowed Him to show me how much I would enjoy serving Him as a missionary.

    So I understood that I truly had a missionary calling, and I made plans to return to Puerto Rico to teach the following school year.

    Two Types of Missionary Calling

    I believe there are two ways God calls us to ministry. Both are illustrated in the Bible.

    The first is the way God called Paul in the book of Acts. Paul wasn't even serving the Lord until God struck him down in broad daylight by a vision brighter than the sun. He was changed from Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle in a few days time.

    The other is the way God called Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter six. In that story God asked for someone to go, and Isaiah volunteered.

    I believe my calling was more like Isaiah's than like Paul's, but after that morning when I read Psalm 37, I knew the Lord had, in fact, given me a missionary calling to Puerto Rico.

    When God Calls, He also Enables.

    I graduated in May, 1979, and in August of 1979, I began teaching at Levittown Christian Academy in Levittown, Puerto Rico. I spent exactly thirteen weeks on deputation.

    I didn't go to Puerto Rico under a mission board but under my home church. The church created a board called "Baptist Mission Outreach" to send me out. I was partially self supporting because the school I taught at did give me some pay, but half of my living expenses needed to come from believers in the states.

    When I left for the field, I had less then half of the amount I needed pledged for my support. But during the ten years I served in Puerto Rico, there were only two times that the full amount I needed didn't come in. Those two times,it turned out I didn't need the full amount anyway.

    I had the wonderful privilege of living by faith, and I know from first hand experience, that the Lord will provide your needs.

    Missionary Calling - Every Believer Has One...

    I truly believe that God has called us all to be his missionaries if we know Christ as our Savior.

    In Matthew 28, verses eighteen to twenty Christ told his disciples to go and "make followers of all people in the world."

    That sure sounds like a missionary calling to me! I know he doesn't want us all going to foreign countries, but I do believe he has given all of us His missionary calling.

    Please re-read that passage in your Bible, and see if you don't agree.

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