Kayla Myzia is a communications intern with OneWay this summer. Kayla reflects on every Christian's call to missions.
For many of us in America, ministry is merely a category in our lives, rather than an integral part of our identity. Ever since I stepped through the doors of OneWay Ministries for my summer internship, this realization has transformed my thoughts.
We often talk about conforming our lives to the image of Jesus, focusing on His selflessness, humility and compassion, yet we overlook the part of Jesus that preached to multitudes and led people to faith in the Father everywhere He went. In our pursuit of comfort and convenience, we have lost touch with the urgency of the Great Commission.
We spend more money on marketing and branding our churches than we do equipping the saints to reach the lost. We preach politics from the pulpit more than or equal to how much we preach the Great Commission. We deck out our stages with fog machines and flashy lights when all we genuinely need to do the work of the Lord is a Bible and a humble heart.
I realized this summer I have lived a life of only wanting to do ministry within the bounds of what I am comfortable with. In reality, God called us all to a life that is uncomfortable. Jesus lived a life of ministry without a place to lay His head at night.
We often live as if only a certain kind of Christian becomes a missionary. We admire famous saints who were called into missions, like Jim Elliot. But frankly, we are all called.
“There isn’t a calling problem, there’s an obedience problem,” said OneWay President Michael Thompson on one of our first days of work this summer.
This quote is burned into my mind.
Thompson grew up in a Christian home like I did, and God opened his eyes to the heartbreaking reality of the world’s desperate need for missions. Instead of applauding those who lead radical lives of ministry from a distance, we should recognize that we are all called to be like Jesus in the way we treat people and the way we reach people.
I grew up with the idea that a fulfilling Christian life had a checklist, which included church attendance, tithing, Bible reading and involvement in church activities. Then you go to college, get a degree, get married and “be fruitful and multiply,” which I was told all my life is my greatest responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are wonderful blessings. But does it end there?
Sadly, it does for a lot of us in this comfortable Christian culture. Having grown up in a Christian household where I was homeschooled from kindergarten to 12th grade, everyone and everything from my education to the sports I played was centered around Christianity. Then I grew up and went to a Bible college to pursue a career in art and ministry.
Somehow, in 20 years I never felt the weight of the world’s dire need for missions, and I never knew of the 3.3 billion unreached souls who live in parts of the world where they will never hear the name of Jesus unless someone brings them the gospel.
Michael Thompson was my age when he first went on mission in Africa. Not long after, he founded OneWay. During intern orientation, he explained how we are all called to be like Jesus, not only in the way we treat people but how we reach them.
You might not be called to Ghana or Iran, but you are called to share the gospel until your last breath. Regardless of whether or not it fits nicely into the life you planned out for yourself. Whether it’s in a foreign country, to a neighbor, or an agnostic family member, we are all called by God to spread the gospel to anyone and everyone.
As a student at The Moody Bible Institute, I will spend four years of my life and thousands of dollars learning about theology, the history of the Church and the transmission of the Bible. Surrounded by more than a thousand professing Christians every day, I’ve observed an ironic atmosphere of pride.
Far too easily we fall into a self-centered mindset, elevating ourselves simply because of our biblical knowledge. We’re often distracted with debates over eschatology and Calvinism versus Arminianism, or critiquing a local pastor’s sermon rather than the paramount issue of the Great Commission. What’s the point of acquiring all this knowledge if we know nothing about the most pressing issue on the planet?
David Platt said it best in his book Radical when he said, “We in America have lost touch with what is essential, radical — even dangerous — about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.”
We’ve lost touch with God’s desires by being fixated on our own. Instead of “sitting comfortably in plush chairs within beautiful buildings” we should be on our faces before God, grieving over the 130,000 people who die daily never having shared in the beauty of a life with their Creator.
Meanwhile there are people in other countries who do not have the privilege of sitting in a comfortable church chair, let alone a church.
The American Christian Church has, at times, fallen into a sense of pride, privilege and hypocrisy. We conform to our culture when we should be conformed to Christ. We mistake minor inconveniences or criticisms for persecution, while our brothers and sisters in other countries face true danger for their faith.
My friend’s parents and grandparents who fled from Russia take their faith far more seriously than the average American church-goer. They risked being imprisoned, abused or even executed for their faith. Their dedication to Christ even unto death stands as a stark contrast to our comfortable spiritual laziness.
Jesus deserves more than a polite invitation into our lives.
He is worthy of “total allegiance and immediate obedience,” as Platt put it.
When Jesus sent out the apostles, He instructed them to go without hesitation, trusting in His provision. He did not say to wait until it was financially convenient. He simply told them to go, and He would do the rest.
We need to embrace the same urgency and readiness to act, supporting those who can go when we cannot. We have no right to sing "You're worthy of it all," when we are unwilling to sacrifice it all.
The urgency of the Great Commission should take precedence over comfort, convenience, money and worldly success. God deserves more than your convenient service, He deserves total allegiance and obedience. We must break out of comfortable Christianity and embrace a life of ministry on His terms, not our own.
We are all missionaries in this world before we are anything else, charged with the divine responsibility to bring the light of Christ to the darkest corners of the earth until all have heard His name.