Does your current work have anything to do with being on mission? Does what you do from nine to five have any relationship to the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth?
These questions get at an underlying narrative that still plays in the back of our minds when we think about being a ‘missionary’: that it is an endeavour for the specially called and trained, who give up what they were to become something else in order to present Christ to the nations.
That simply isn’t so.
In the 2000-year history of the spread of the Gospel, it is only in the last 200 years that mission agencies have emerged to formally train and send missionaries. The Gospel had already spread globally without them because Christians, “as they were going” around the world in their regular and professional lives, discipled the people they encountered along the way.
Steve and Laurie are currently living on mission as medical professionals in the Arabian Gulf and are connected with our team there. Steve describes how he sees his work as his mission in this way:
“Let me answer this one as if I never left Vancouver.
In a big city like Vancouver, living the rented-apartment life, I never knew who lived next to me. One day, I learned that my neighbours, who I thought were new, had been there over 9 months and, when they left and were replaced, I didn’t find out until months later. Meanwhile, I saw the people who I trained and worked with on a very frequent basis and we started to become good friends.
These people came from all sort of different worldviews and backgrounds—Christian, post-Christian, Muslim, agnostic, quasi-Buddhist, etc. Even those with Church connections had little time (or reason) to walk through church doors, given how full their lives were with work and family. However, they had time for me—and I for them—because we shared our work.
I’m not going to pretend that I was the only person God had put in their path; however, I think that He allowed me to be a part of their lives for that time for a reason. There were opportunities for the kinds of authentic, vulnerable conversations that can only happen between friends; it’s in these conversations that we start to reveal who we are as we learn about each other. This is where Jesus starts to become more and more evident in our lives in a real and practical way.
In the Arabian Gulf, I am not doing anything different than when I was in Vancouver, and my hope is that similar connections will form over time. They do take time, though—in busy fields like medicine, relationships seem to form in slow motion. You might not really get to talk with someone every week at a deep level, but if you do so every couple of months over a few years, things progress.
Everyone in their place of work will connect with people that they wouldn’t otherwise connect with–people who have different backgrounds and worldviews. This is what God intended, and it is hardly unique to working overseas.
If we work as if we were working for Jesus, we truly become a “living sacrifice.” This sort of dedication doesn’t allow us to treat work as a means to an end. As Christians, we are called to work hard and be excellent in what we do. I glorify God every day that I do my job well. Sometimes that means signing up for unpleasant duties, sometimes it means being willing to take risks that others are fearful of, sometimes it means helping others shine. Work is worship. Some weekends, instead of singing in church, I am in the hospital managing difficult cases, dealing with demanding patients’ families, and trying to keep people from falling through the cracks of a medical system. I come home exhausted and collapse. I think Jesus receives that the same way He receives an alabaster jar of perfume shattered over His feet and wiped with our hair and tears. He wants all of us, after all, not just 10% of our income and songs on Sundays; He wants our 24/7/365, our 110%, our utmost for His highest.”
God gave you skills, apprenticeships, certifications, degrees, and years of experience that enable you to enter into the lives of others here in Canada and around the world. Furthermore, if you have a desire to impact others cross-culturally who have not experienced the gospel message of Christ, don’t feel that you have to give up your occupation, drop everything, and re-train in order to go overseas as a “full-time missionary.” As God once said to Moses: “What’s in your hand?” In his case it was a shepherds’ staff, and that’s what God used! What’s in your hand?
In the coming months you will be hearing more about how we, as the Canadian Alliance family, are preparing a pathway for you to engage your profession in our global mission. But don’t wait for that. Start here and now. Your nine to five has everything to do with the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth.
“As you are going” in your workplace, make disciples.
Your work is your mission. Your mission is your work. Where, and to whom, can your work take you?
Visit alliancecanada.scatterglobal.com to begin exploring how you can use your profession overseas to share the Gospel.
Contact Harv Matchullis at email@example.com to begin your journey.