By: Dr. Brad Frye, Program Director and Latin America Director
For the last 15 years I have had the privilege of walking with many people through the process of deciding if they are called to serve in overseas missions. For most it was not an easy journey as it often required taking steps toward a destination that was not clear, along a path that often changed, while dealing with obstacles that seemed overwhelming. But most of all it required them to trust that God would lead and provide for what He called them to do. During this time, I have seen God’s amazing confirmation for some and for others it has been distraction and entanglement. Regardless of what the issues are these distractions or roadblocks often have to be dealt with before a person can move forward with their calling.
This week we begin a three part series on the roadblocks to missions. In part one, I will talk about calling and responding to God’s call to missions and identifying the six roadblocks we believe hold people back from pursuing the call to serve overseas. In part two and three, we will specifically address the roadblocks of the need for more veterinary education, the issue of debt and paying it off, calling and how to discern where God might be calling you, spiritual preparedness, family and raising children on the mission field, and separation from family.
What is our calling? The last charge Jesus made before ascending into heaven in Mathew 28:18-20 was to invite believers to make it part of their life to go and make disciples of all Nations or language groups baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some might call this a command but it really is a privilege to serve with God. As believers we don’t really have the options of responding if we go but we do have the privilege of deciding where and how we will respond to Jesus’ invitation to make disciples. When we respond to “go” we don’t do this alone but Jesus promises to always be with us. When we do this it requires some intentionality on our behalf.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2
Heb 12:1-2 does a good job of giving us some guidelines on how to accomplish what God has called us to do. Let me quickly share some brief insights on what this passage says to do then apply that to some of the roadblocks that may incur in mission service.
- First run with endurance this race set before us. What is God calling you to do?
- Realize you are not alone – the cloud of witnesses spoke of in 12:1 is referring to those mentioned in Chapter 11 and could even refer to others believers who have gone before you. Study their example and gain wisdom from them.
- Lay aside the things that distract you from the goal. There are a lot of good things in life that can keep you from focusing on what God has called you to do. Learn how to say no and focus on your calling.
- Deal with sin that entangles you from accomplishing the task at hand. Many times our insecurities or fear spring up from root beliefs that allow us to make Idols of worldly objects or not allow us to trust God to provide.
How does all this apply to the roadblocks to serving as a veterinary professional on the mission field? As people prepare for service with CVM we have asked them what are the things that are holding them back or that they are most concerned about in preparation for serving in overseas missions. One of our mission prospects made the following statement. “Jesus told the rich young man to ‘sell your possessions and give to the poor…then come, follow me’ (Matthew 19:21) and when Jesus told Peter and Andrew to come and follow Him, they “at once left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:20). Therefore, none of these barriers are legit in God’s eyes but my humanly, fleshly side still has desires and concerns. The largest obstacles are family, career situations (we both own our own businesses and spouse is pretty integral in his family’s business), concern for our children’s’ safety and education, debt load, and learning a foreign language.”
We have identified six of the most common roadblocks CVM candidates face when they start the application process for overseas missions and suggestions for how to address these. In Parts Two and Three of this series, we will address the roadblocks of the need for more veterinary education, debt and paying it off, calling and how to discern where God might be calling you, spiritual preparedness, family and raising children on the mission field, and separation from family.
Stay tuned for Roadblocks to Missions: Part Two.