I’m sure all of us have sat in a mission conference or listened to a missionary guest speaker in church. We’ve all watched the slides, visited the missionary’s display, and handled the piranha. Missions are so familiar to us that we take them for granted. Similarly, most of us have heard the familiar question from pastors and missionaries alike: “Are you willing to go?” Unfortunately, most of us never hear the missionary’s plaintive, unspoken thought: “Are you willing to send?”

Missionaries, pastors, and Bible schools alike all emphasize the need for missionaries to go out and fulfill the Great Commission on foreign fields. Truly, they have legitimate cause for such an entreaty. Locked in the solid comfort of our American world, few willingly forsake it for the rigors and frustrations of foreign fields. When we compare the United States to almost any foreign country, even the most modern and civilized, we realize that we are better evangelized and churched than anywhere else in the world. Our ratio of churches to people exceeds the general world ratio by several orders of magnitude.  Although the United States certainly needs churches and evangelization, the rest of the world needs these services even more.

Behind the call to go, however, lies a darker, less-known truth: more people surrender to the mission field then we commonly believe. You ask, “Where are these people? Why have I never heard of them?”  The answer, sadly, reveals another twentieth century, American shame: we are not willing to send. Countless would-be missionaries, freely surrendered to the call of God, fail to find support and eventually drop quietly out of sight. This phenomena occurs far more often than most of us believe. As any missionary will tell you, getting onto the field often requires years of constant travel and effort. One out of perhaps ten churches may elect to support a visiting missionary.  Many pastors, regretfully turn away missionary candidates with the all-too-common statement, “We just can’t afford another missionary!”

I believe that God tests both churches and individual Christians through missionaries. He asks us if we are willing to give up a few of our numerous American amenities in order to extend His witness to other countries. All too often, church building programs, new sound systems, new music for the choir, or countless other perfectly legitimate needs prevent us from supporting a missionary. On the individual level, all too often we put our homes, cars, and recreation ahead of the far more serious spiritual needs of the world. God doesn’t condemn amenities and recreation nor does He object to our building a decent church structure. Yet, I feel that, on the whole, we are failing God’s test!

Some time ago, while waiting for Sunday School to start, I overheard a man in the seat behind me make a statement which I feel sums up the feelings of many missionary candidates: “I’m willing to go and risk martyrdom at the hands of the Auca Indians, but the thought of wearing out two cars as I drive all over the United States looking for support is almost too daunting.” This statement in no way reflects ill upon the zeal and willingness of missionary candidates. Instead, it reflects the indifference of American churches and Christians to the need for world outreach. All too often, I hear fellow Christians attempting to justify a missionary’s failure to reach the field with a statement such as, “He must not have been called after all.”  Regretfully, many successfully salve their consciences with excuses such as this one. Few reflect that God might be testing their commitment to send missionaries rather than testing the missionary’s zeal to go. Borrowing the words of Paul, I too say, “Brethren, these things ought not to be!”

Further, I believe that through our behavior, we convey a dangerous attitude to the young, rising generation of children. Through our actions we demonstrate our lack of interest in world outreach.  At the same time, we emphasize our already excessive American materialism. We sit in our comfortable homes and churches and casually remark that we just don’t have the means to do much about missions. Is it any wonder that our children never surrender to the Lord’s leading. Is it any wonder that our Christian colleges are full of students who eagerly pursue degrees which lead to the most profitable careers? Before we accuse our children of materialism and indifference, let’s consider our example!

The next time you sit and listen to a missionary ask the well-worn question, “Are you willing to go?” go ahead and answer the question.  The Lord may or may not send you to the mission field.  Once you’ve answered the first question, however, ask yourself a second one: “Am I willing to send?”

Are YOU Willing to Send?

Donarld R Congdon

Donald R. Congdon and is now an industrial teacher and curriculum writer for an international company. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in English from Bob Jones University. He has taught both university English and Electrical Engineering in Greenville, South Carolina. Don's interests include computers, electrical engineering, Church history, English literature, photography, cameras collection, and amateur Ham Radio.