A listener named Phifer writes in to ask, “Pastor John, in your recent podcast episode 233 you mentioned your trip to the Middle East, and the need for young people to devote and give their lives to an unreached people group. I’m a young man in college, and I am just wondering what it would look like for a young person like me to move forward on a call like that. Where do I start?”
That is an absolutely crucial question because my guess is there are a lot of people in churches where not a lot of missions focus exists and, therefore, there is not a lot of practical help. So let me try to give some. Where should you start if God gives the slightest tug for the unreached peoples of the world?
Seven Steps On the Way to Missions
1. Read your Bible through the grid of missions.
Start with your Bible and prayer. Read your Bible with the question, What does this have to do with world missions? And you will be amazed. You just put it all through the grid of missions.
2. Pray that God would glorify his name through your life.
Then pray earnestly every day: “God, please cause your name to be hallowed in my life” — that is the Lord’s prayer — “Make your name great and treasured and praised and valuable in my life. Bring your kingdom through my life. Show me the most fruitful path of your will for my life. Give me a sense of yieldedness to your leading. Prepare me in every way for your service. Show me yourself and how I can serve you.” If a young person prays that prayer every day, God is going to do amazing things. He is. He won’t neglect a prayer like that coming out of the heart of a young person.
3. Become a member in a missions-minded church.
And then, thirdly, be a part of a good, gospel-preaching, missions-minded church. Now that may not be easy for a kid, because he is going to go where his parents are going, and the church may or may not be a missions-powerful church. If you are not at one, pray that God would reform your church. Be an instrument of reformation among young people. In the history of missions, young people have gotten together to talk and pray about missions and have read things about missions and have become the explosive agents of reform in the church instead of waiting around for the church to get reformed so that they could be inspired by missions.
4. Talk to missionaries about missions and serve alongside them.
Seek to have an older and a younger friend or friends who share your interests and talk to them about missions. If you can get to know some missionaries, talk to them. Write to them. Ask them all your questions. Find out who the missionaries are at your church, or if you don’t have any, find some through friends, and write to them, and ask them what it is like, and give them your very particular questions. Go to visit them on the mission field. Do a short-term missionary project. Lots of people wind up in long term missions because they did a short-term project that missionaries find helpful, not just that you find interesting. You ought to serve when you go. You want to serve. You are not there for entertainment, and you are not there for a cross-cultural experience. You are there to serve, and you get all that other stuff thrown in.
5. Read missionary biographies and the history of missions.
Read William Carey.
Faithful Witness is the name of the book by Timothy George and there are others.
Read To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson, the biography of Adoniram Judson.
Read Hudson Taylor and his story written by his grandchildren or his own book, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.
Look at websites like Joshua Project and try to understand the scope of the need and nature of unreached peoples.
6. Check out online mission agencies.
Get to know a few mission agencies. First, start with your own denomination. If you are in a church and it has a denomination and they have a world missions board, ask your pastor what it is and how to get in touch with it if it has a website. And just get to know your own denominational mission focus. And then outside that, there are lots of interdenominational mission boards, and I think it would be great just to scan their websites and read about what God is doing.
Here are a few of them: Pioneers, Frontiers, Wycliffe, TEAM, To Every Tribe, Action International Ministries, AIM, SIM, IMB, WEC, SEND. You can rewind this podcast and just go online and type in mission agency and one of those, and you can find out all kinds of things that God is doing and maybe be stirred up for a particular place or people.
7. Go to the Cross Conference.
And maybe the last thing I would say is, come in December to the Cross Conference in Louisville. This is a conference that I was part of founding, and we got about 3,500 folks signed up at the first one. As I say this, I am hoping for four or five thousand young people. These are college students — seniors in high school can also register. You can go online and find the website. Be a part of that. That is a tremendous encouragement when you are with a whole lot of other students who have the same kind of questions and the same kind of prayers that you do.
So, my prayer is that God will make this question that has been asked here the question of thousands of young people and that they will raise them and seek to find all the practical ways that God has of showing them a pathway into missions. I pray that God will raise up an army of goers in our day among young people with the gospel of peace.