The failed missionary?


Once upon a time, there was a person who wanted to help practically in the mission field. Not on “the pullpit”, but very practical: doing the bookkeeping for a mission organization. Work that is very necessary because without good accounting no company can run (not even a mission company). This person had been working on it for a year and then went home on leave. And there came the question: what have you done in missions? The answer was: I did the bookkeeping for a missionary organization. Yes, we understand that, but what did you really do? Because we (the people who supported this person) pay you to do something with missions, right? Bookkeeping ain’t mission work….? And some of the people stopped making donations after that. After two years, that person was done with it and quit. She never got the funding, and she also felt that no one really understood the important work she was doing for God.

She went home and no one was talking about the work she had done for those two years. She also never got the funding 100% anyway, so that must have been a sign from God that He also wanted her to do something else. Right?

mhhh…. uuuhhh…

Similarly, there was a person who had heard from God that he should build a boat. It took him a hundred years!

That man was Noah. (click) Nowhere in Genesis 6 is it stated that Noah also evangelized. Not a word. Only in 2 Peter 2:5 we did see that he was a “a preacher of righteousness” but that’s not even found in all translations. Noah was a carpenter. Very practical.

Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

Genesis 6:22

And when Noah was building, I can imagine that people also asked him: what are you really doing? How many people have you already converted in those 100 years, dear Noah? Isn’t it time to stop, dude?

Was Noah a failure as a missionary?

And so, there was a man who (while working for God) was accused of sexually transgressive behavior. He was even found guilty and thrown in jail. I have no idea how things went back then, but “where there is smoke there is fire” people often say, so I guess he only got a few postcards in prison (if any) and his funding must have ended. That man was Joseph… (click)

Had Joseph failed as a missionary?

Also, there was also a real super, hyper, mega evangelist. A real blast! But well… his language was not really soft and “biblical language like”. He called people “vipers” and was quite snappy with the judgement. (with God’s word in his hand) His clothes were not really neat as befits a pastor / missionary. He had a robe of camel’s hair. Yuck. If you saw him today, he really doesn’t fit into any mission club, and you wouldn’t give him a penny with that language. And things didn’t go very well on the mission field either. In the end, he was even arrested, and his head was chopped off. Well, that was clearly not a blessing… right?! That man was John… the Baptist (click).

Had John failed?

And then there was also this guy who believed in God, but to say you could see God blessing his work. No, not really. It seemed as if God said: go do something else than what you are doing now… I will not bless it and let you know that, and a sign is that everything you do really fails. He lost his job, home gone, bankrupt, big misery indeed. That man was Job….

Had Job failed?

And then there were these two missionaries. They worked side by side to bring God’s message for 23 years. And nothing happened… Nothing. Nobody listened and one of them got arrested for preaching and got killed in the end. One of them was Jeremiah, and the other one was Uriah.

Were Jeremiah and Uriah failed missionaries? 23 Years down the drain?

Were these people failures? Or were those “failures” we saw part of God’s plan and were they anything but failures?

And suppose… there is a missionary today who is hard at work. But got no man converted to Christ…. Not one, not a soul. Or there is a missionary who comes back from the mission field because it “didn’t go so well there”… how do we feel about that? Failed… or not? Do we really dare to trust in a God who has a plan? Pretty complicated question….

And imagine… you are not doing great today. Nothing seems to work. Is that automatically a sign that God wants you to do something different? That you failed? Or could there be another message? Is it as black and white as we often think… or is there something else…?

As my teacher once said: a bicycle has two wheels, but not everything with two wheels is a bicycle. Watch carefully before you judge what it is… it might not be a bicycle. And yes, sometimes it is indeed one. But don’t automatically think it is. Pray, think, study, before you say what it is… let alone act.

Something to think about….

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