Updated: Nov 21, 2019
What if it doesn’t work out?
What if I don’t end up making it to the mission field?
OK, so you gave your best effort and it just didn’t work out. You thought you were called to go to the mission field. You hoped and prayed and planned to take the Gospel for the glory of Christ to an unreached people group. But, it didn’t happen. Somewhere along the way you hit a snag or a wall or a wall hit you. Maybe you were diverted by something great and grand and wonderful. But, you’re not going to that field. You’re not going THERE now.
Now what will you do?
First of all, you should understand that you are not alone. Many intend to go; few actually end up going. Intending to go is not a bad thing. Through your passion and heart for missions, you’ve no doubt learned a lot. You’ve grown in spiritual maturity and skill in the process. In the past, it’s been said that only 15% of those making a commitment to missions, like you did, make it through the gauntlet of preparation, training, and support to full-time missionary service.
Second, God’s call still stands – though probably not in the same way you thought at the beginning of this process. Maybe you understand more clearly now that following hard after God does not guarantee you a particular slot or role. He didn’t give you an irrevocable claim to go THERE. He obviously intended that you head in that direction for specific purposes in your life and in His plan for others, ultimately for His glory. He always loving, graciously, tenaciously calls you to love Christ, to grow to be more like Him, to share Him wherever you are. He calls you to godliness and service and worship, just as much now as ever.
Third, you are not a failure because you didn’t make it to the field. There are a lot of factors involved. There are a lot of other people involved. There are a lot of circumstances and issues between the “yes, I’ll go” and the affirmation and confirmation of everything needed to get THERE. If you were humble and teachable in the process, if you gave it a genuinely solid effort, then God will still use all of it for His glory in your life. Your education will help you and help others down the road. God uses everything in our lives as a prologue for what He has yet for us to do. There is no “second best” in God’s will. Your inability to make it to the field did not come as a surprise to God. Your not being THERE will not catch Him shorthanded. If you did not sin in the process, you did not somehow let God down. His purposes will stand. His purposes for you are good and acceptable and perfect. You may have been humbled; you may have to change direction; but you are not a failure.
Fourth, you have become a seasoned “World Christian.” You are in an excellent position to be an active missions mobilizer. You understand more about missions and the process of becoming a missionary than ever before. You know something about the importance of the local church in the process. You know about the personal, spiritual, and material costs of going THERE. You know something about how to encourage and mobilize others to be a part of God’s heart for the nations. Let this mark you life! Don’t quench your passion for world missions! Express it and channel it in different ways now. Commit to praying for unreached people groups as never before. Do all you can to earn as much as you can to support missions as much as you can. Become a part of the Barnabas-sending team of your friends being sent out to the strategic mission fields. Start or join your church’s Missions Team and become an avid missions advocate. Coordinate or sponsor missions training and Perspectives-type courses in your church. Mentor new missionary candidates.
Lastly, don’t blame God. We can mix up God’s call and our own desires. It’s never God’s “fault” that you didn’t make it to mission field of your ambition. It’s not about assigning blame at all. God’s purposes are still pure and good. Talk to God about. Express your emotions; but don’t blame God; don’t become bitter and resentful. He is sovereign; you are not. He is all loving, kind, gracious, forgiving, and full of integrity. He wants you to pray. He entreats you to approach His Throne of Mercy. To learn His compassion for you and get a bearing on new direction, spend extra time in His Word. Seek godly counsel, not an audience for your grievances. Try to figure out what new path He is setting before you. Set new goals. Actively seek to serve. Press on!