What is a Missionary ?

"What is a missionary?"

...is the type of question I loved to answer when I was one. The reason was, as a missionary I had a mission, and this question opened a door that made it easier for me to accomplish it.

You may think I'm talking in riddles, but that isn't my intention...

In actual fact, there are many ways to answer the question "what is a missionary, but to be sure you understand the answer, let's define the question, or perhaps I should say, let's be sure we're asking the same question...

Let me explain upfront, when I answer the question "what is a missionary?" I'm answering by telling you what a Christian missionary is. Other religious groups may also send out "missionaries", but I have no knowledge of who they are, or what they do.

I can share with you what a Christian missionary is, as well as what a Christian missionary does, because I have been one, and I have many friends who are still following this calling.

To truly understand "what is a missionary?" , you'll need to understand the question, "What does a missionary do?" as well.

What is a missionary ?
Someone with a Mission

But what exactly is the mission of a Christian missionary? Well, it is to:

  • tell the greatest story ever told...
  • offer the most valuable treasure a person can ever own...
  • share the greatest gift ever offered to man...
  • help others find the only relationship that will always be fulfilling, satisfying, and completely dependable.

I trust I've aroused your curiosity enough that you'll carefully read and consider the meaning of what I write on the rest of this page.

These truths are more valuable than the greatest lottery jackpot.

They cost more than all the riches of the richest men combined.

They are available via the internet to everyone, but many governments do everything in their power to stop their citizens from finding these truths.

Additionally, perhaps the second most powerful being ever created will do anything possible to keep you from understanding these truths, or ever thinking seriously about "what is a missionary?".

What is a Missionary ?
An ambassador for Christ

The mission of every Christian missionary is to be an ambassador for Christ. In other words, we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, and Christ is the King of that Kingdom. This world is under the power of Satan, who is the enemy of Christ our king. We are sent as his representatives to individuals in this world.

God created our world, and created us to be His friends. But a friendship has to be a mutual relationship, so God didn't create us as robots. He placed Adam and Eve, the first humans in a perfect environment and gave them one rule. He told them if they broke the rule they would die (be separated from Him).

They chose to believe Satan instead of God, and broke that one rule. Consequently, today we are all God's creation, but we are born under the rule of Satan. Another way of saying that is "Nobody's perfect."

I sometimes wonder why God didn't just wipe Adam and Eve out and start over, but He didn't. Instead he chose to do things His way, and He tells us His ways aren't our ways. He has spent all the years of time planning and working to make a way to restore our friendship, since it was destroyed by our sin.

After several thousand years, He finally sent His Son to be a man. He came and lived a perfect life, but instead of men accepting Him and loving Him, they resented and hated Him...

Oh, not all men, but the important and the powerful men did. They finally managed to arrest Him, try Him before a kangaroo court, and have Him executed. Even though He had never done anything wrong, He was crucified as a common criminal.

It was the most unfair thing that happened in all of history!

The "powers that were" in those days thought they'd solved their problem...But three days later He rose from the dead. When He did, He proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is who He claimed to be...

  • The Son of God
  • The Jewish Messiah
  • The King of Heaven
  • The Only Perfect Man who has ever lived
  • The King of Kings and Lord of Lords...

I could go on, but I trust you get the idea. Jesus Christ is Lord of Everything!

But after He rose from the dead, He was only here in His resurrected body for about forty days. Then He went back to heaven.

He left His followers here to tell others about Him.

Why did he come? He came to live a perfect life. He came to die in our place. When he died he paid for our sins.

The Bible says "The wages (salary) of sin is death..."

When we sin, and since no one is perfect, that includes us all, we earn death.

Death doesn't just mean physical death, it also means spiritual death.

Death is such an unpleasant subject that most people don't think about it enough to even understand it.

The word death literally means separation.

When we die physically our spirit separates from our body.

When we die spiritually our spirit is separated from God.

Our problem is, although we are born alive physically, we are born dead spiritually. No one is born with a relationship with God. And what's even worse, we have no way to get a relationship with God, no matter how hard we try.

Just as a dead person can't resurrect himself, a spiritually dead person can't be good enough to get spiritual life.

Of course, we don't naturally understand that, so God gave the Jews the perfect religion to teach them this truth. He told them if they "kept the law" they could live, but for over two thousand years no one could do it.

After the Lord Jesus came, died, rose, and went back to heaven, God explained that the purpose of the law wasn't so we could be saved by keeping it, if that were possible, Christ wouldn't have needed to come. Rather its purpose was to show us our need of a Savior, so we would come to Christ for salvation.

The statement I quoted from the Bible above "The wages of sin is death", doesn't end there, the rest of the verse declares, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

What does that mean?

It means that Christ died for you. He took your place and paid for your sins. If you accept Him as your personal Savior, you can have eternal life.

What is a Missionary ?
Someone Who Shares the Gospel

He or she is a person who has dedicated his life to sharing the preceding message with those around him.

You may wonder why a person would do that. It isn't because they are super people, on the contrary they are common, ordinary people, but they were once lost in sin themselves, before Jesus saved them. So they want to share the good news.

Any Christian missionary, who is doing what he should be doing, will be working consistently to share the "gospel" (that word literally means good news) with everyone he can. In addition he will be praying consistently that the Lord will bless his efforts so that many others can come to know the Lord through his ministry as well.

So that is the first answer to the question 'what does a missionary do". However, that isn’t the only answer…

What Does a Missionary Do ?

If you're researching this question online, you may not know many missionaries, or perhaps you do, but you still can't figure out the answer, because you've known missionaries who did many different things.

For a better understanding of the answer please visit this page dedicated to answering the question "What does a Missionary Do?"

When I was on the mission field I was a teacher, but when we go to the mission field now, my husband is doing electrical work...

So answering the question "What does a missionary do" is impossible without knowing the specific missionary in question.

However, all missionaries have the ultimate goal of sharing the good news of the gospel with others. Not everyone has the privilege of sharing the message directly, but all are working on the team to accomplish that goal.

What is a Missionary ?
A Follower of Christ

I've given the most accurate answer to what people usually mean when they ask, " What is a missionary ?" But I believe God gives us another answer...

It is explained at the end of the gospels, and the first part of the book of Acts. Those verses give the "Great Commission" as it is commonly known. Christ says to his disciples "You go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to do everything I have commanded you..."

So to my understanding...

If we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are His disciples.

If we are His disciples, then he has given us this commandment.

If you look back at the first thing a missionary does, it is to share the gospel story. I believe in, God's eyes, everyone who knows Christ as Savior is a missionary.

Not all of us have been called to go to another country to share the gospel, but we have all been called to make sharing this message the top priority of our lives.

Someday we will see our Lord and Savior face to face. When that day comes, we will answer to Him about whether we've been faithful in our missionary service for Him.

I hope to hear Him say, "well done, good and faithful servant", and I imagine you do too. I believe the first step to making that happen is to realize we are His missionaries, wherever He has placed us.

So if you are a believer in Christ, and ask him "What is a missionary?", or perhaps we should say "who?" He'll answer, "You are!"

What is a Missionary ?
Conclusions

A missionary is a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ; someone who chooses to please the Lord instead of pleasing self. Foreign missionaries serve the Lord in other countries, but anyone who knows the Lord should be a missionary for him.

I've had the privilege to serve the Lord for over ten years in foreign missions, but today for most of the year I serve him in home missions.

It is vital for me to constantly remind myself that wherever I am, and whatever I'm doing, telling others about Christ should be my first priority. If you know Christ as Savior, I trust you'll have that priority as well.

But if you don't yet know Christ, my hope and prayer is through reading this page you might come to know Him as your Savior and Lord. Having a relationship with Him is more important than anything else in life.

Even more importantly, it will determine your destiny for all eternity. If you don’t believe me, let me challenge you to read John’s Gospel (the fourth book of the New Testament), and ask God to show you if these things are true.

You can ignore this message, but you do so at your own peril. As I told my students when I was teaching…

"Reality is not changed by what we believe about it, but our actions will be."

Please find the Truth and accept Him now before it is too late. There are no second chances after death.

As the Bible says..."Look, Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation." Don't take a chance that you'll have another opportunity tomorrow.

When you've accepted Christ, you'll finally understand personally, the answer to the question, "what is a missionary ?"

Return from What is a Missionary to Electrifying Mission Trips