One of Jesus' final instruction to His disciples was, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19–20). He also told them, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). As Christians we are all called to share the message of Christ with the world. These instructions are for every believer regardless of their age, gender, location, profession, or skill set. However, there are some people who are specifically called to be fulltime missionaries.
In order to know if you have been called by God to be a fulltime missionary, you first must be in communication with God. The closer you grow to God through prayer, worship, and reading His Word, the better you will understand His will. In prayer, ask God if it is His will for you to serve Him as a missionary, and listen to His response. He may respond through a nudge from the Holy Spirit, or a verse from Scripture, or a friend's affirmation.
You also need to evaluate your spiritual gifts and skill set. These attributes can help direct you towards a specific place or people group that God wants you to serve. They also will tell you in what area of ministry you will be most effective. While the ultimate goal of missionaries is to preach the gospel, people are often only open to hear God's Word when their basic needs have been met. We need doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. who can build bridges to lost people and open the door for evangelism.
In addition, it is important to seek advice and wisdom from fellow believers. They will be able to help you see any blind spots and make sure you are indeed in line with God's will (Proverbs 15:22). As you begin missionary work they will be your support system back home whether they support you financially or through prayer.
Finally, it is crucial that you consider the cost of the missionary lifestyle. When Jesus asked His disciples to follow Him, He asked them to leave everything behind. He said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20). The missionary lifestyle can be very difficult. You may be far away from loved ones living in a different culture than your own. You may encounter a language barrier or opposition to Christianity. Some missionaries even lose their lives while sharing the gospel. But if God has called you to be a missionary, you can trust that He will equip you for the work. No matter where or to what God calls us, following Him is always the best option.
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