This is part two of this article. You can read part one here. We’ve already seen from Acts 13 that the context of God’s strategy for missions is the local church and that He calls Christians who are already engaged in service. Let’s see one more step in this biblical strategy.
The Commencement of Missions
It wasn’t enough for the missionaries at Antioch to be called—the church had to send them to the field. It does the heathen little good if the church is full of called missionaries. The sending step is crucial.
The church at Antioch supported the men they sent with a two-stranded lifeline—prayer and finances. Any missionary actively engaged on the field will tell you that both strands are vital.
Missionary families face an intensity of spiritual warfare that few back home can understand. The missionary is making a frontal attack into territory that Satan has already claimed for himself, often working to gain entrance into the hearts and minds of people who have for centuries been held in Satan’s grasp of spiritual darkness and ignorance. Satan doesn’t give up easily. He will attack the missionary and his work on every level possible.
Paul experienced this firsthand and often requested the prayers of God’s people:
- “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Romans 15:30).
- “Praying…for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18–19).
- “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
- “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
The church must also financially support those who have been sent out. In God’s incredibly designed economy, missions giving is beneficial to both the missionary and the sending church. Paul described this win-win setup in Philippians 4:15–17:
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
The missionary benefits from receiving the gift because his needs are met and the work of God is able to continue. The church benefits from sending the gift because they become “stockholders” in the eternal rewards of the missionary.
The commission Christ has given His church is great indeed—take the Gospel to the entire world. But the resources of God are greater. Missionary William Carey understood how this could take place when he said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” We will succeed in fulfilling our mission to the extent that we follow the biblical strategy for victory.