What does a missionary do? It looks like a simple question, but the answer is quite complex. If you know many missionaries, you'll understand what I mean. On the other hand, if you don't know any, you're probably still confused.
Missionary is actually a generic term...like sports. If someone asked what an athlete does, you would have the same problem answering. It depends on which sport the athlete practices.
So "what does a missionary do?" must be answered specifically, depending on his mission. However there are some things that every Christian missionary should do. So I'll start by discussing those. I'll call them universal missionary privileges or responsibilities.
More important than what a missionary does, is who he knows and what his family connections are.
No, I'm not talking about his physical family, but his spiritual family.
Every Christian missionary must have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. If he doesn't, he isn't truly a Christian missionary.
If he does, then he is also a child of God, and a member of God's family. This isn't something a missionary does, but if it isn't who he is, then he isn't truly a Christian missionary, no matter what his job title and description might say.
On the foundation of his personal relationship with Christ, a missionary must understand that God wants him to be a missionary.
In other words, he must see his relationship with the Lord Jesus as something God wants him to share with others, not keep for himself.
Not only that, but he must understand that this responsibility (or privilege) of sharing God's truth with others is his most important priority as a missionary.
What is God's truth? The Bible is God's truth. It is absolute truth.
Man's "truth" changes.
But God's truth does not. A missionary shares that:
Is this all?
No, I've just scratched the surface. The Bible is God's love letter to men. He wrote it to you individually, as well as to me. All the truth in the Bible is valuable for us and needed by us.
It is God's instruction manual for our lives. A missionary teaches others the truths of the Bible because he understands that every person needs these truths and needs to live by them.
Just as you need an instruction manual to know how a major appliance, like a washing machine works, we need the Bible to know how our Creator designed us to live.
If we live as He designed us to live, we'll be happy and successful. If we don't, we'll eventually destroy ourselves.
Yet it is more than this, the Bible is also God's love letter to us...
in it we find that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us", and "God so loved the world (that means every individual in it) that He gave His only begotten Son, that who so ever believes in Him, will not die but have everlasting life."
A missionary's top priority is to teach these truths. But a second, and almost as important priority is...
This is where the question gets more difficult to answer, because there are many ways to help others, and there are probably some missionaries doing all of them, so I'll just make a list of those things I'm aware of missionaries doing to help others.
And this list is in no way exhaustive. It has been said...
"No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."
In helping people come to know the God of the universe, this is frequently, if not always true.
It is by serving, in whatever ways people need service, that missionaries are able to help them.
When the people they are serving understand they truly care, then the missionaries are able to help them come to know their Creator, who cares far more than any of his servants are able to care.
So this second priority for missionaries is almost as important as the first.
If you don't know any missionaries, or know some who have the title, but take advantage of their position to live the "easy life" in some tropical country, you may not believe this, but a true missionary loves the Lord more than anything else.
He is willing to leave his home country, his family, and everything familiar because he loves the Lord, and he wants to please Him. He understands that the Lord loves people, so...
I made a list above of jobs that missionaries do, but I know from personal experience, the list isn't even close to all they do...
and I could go on and on. Much of the time they do many different jobs every day.
They do whatever they can to help people and show them they love them, and God loves them.
Paul begged us in Romans to "give our bodies a living sacrifice". That is a missionary´s goal. Do they accomplish it perfectly?
I don't think so, and neither do they, but they aim for that goal. They spend their lives working for it.
They will find out how well they've done when they stand before the Lord and He evaluates their lives.
They live to hear Him say,
"Well done, good and faithful servant."