Excerpts of a letter written to some missionaries in training
Members of any missionary team should be prayerfully chosen for their proven, self-sacrificial love for the lost; their close spiritual link with the Lord; and their tested ability to be led by Him in major decisions in the absence of earthly counselors or supervisors. They should also demonstrate a loving concern for their coworkers and those to whom they minister, and be able to get along with them. And of course they also need to know how to win souls.
The leaders of these teams must also have a great deal of wisdom, common sense, business sense, and management ability in order to handle the practical affairs of transportation, legal matters, public relations, and the everyday things of life, as well as to teach and to provide spiritual leadership. They should have a thorough understanding of the people and conditions of their prospective field, including a working knowledge of their language and a familiarity with their customs, religions, taboos, laws, and attitudes towards foreign missionaries.
But I want to emphasize that the prime requisite for any missionary must be the same driving passion which motivated the apostle Paul, the disciples of Jesus, and every great man or woman of God—that irresistible compassion which should motivate every Christian in everything they say and do, everywhere they go, with everybody, and which Paul summed up in these few famous and ringing words that have cried out from the heart of every true Christian in every true good deed he has ever done: “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
“Let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).
“We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: Because as He is, so are we in this world. We love Him because He first loved us. And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:16-17,19,21). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2). “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). “Love one another, as I have loved you. By this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35). “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1).
“The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Galatians 5:14). “This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). But it is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Therefore “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). For “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). “Do you love Me? Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). … “And His banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4). Win with love!
If you can’t love your brother or sister, your husband or wife, your mother or father, or your coworker whom you have seen, how are you going to love God or His unsaved children whom you have not seen, especially when their looks, language, and customs will be so different from yours? If you can’t win souls in your home country, you’re certainly not going to be able to win them in some other country under even more difficult conditions. Just transporting you to a different country is not going to make a true disciple or missionary out of you if you have no concern for your neighbor at home, or your brothers and sisters in Christ in your present fellowship (1 John 4:20). You’re not going to make a good missionary unless you love them enough to lay down your life in loving service for them.
Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I have found thee!
At last I’ve found the reason for it all.
‘Tis love and love alone the whole world yearns for!
And ’tis love that bids them heed Thy call!
—Rida Johnson Young, paraphrased
Love conquers all, and to win some, you must be winsome and willing to become all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). Love loves the unlovely and casts a veil over countless sins (Proverbs 10:12). Love prefers the happiness of others to your own. It’s hard for you to see anything good in people you don’t love, but if you really love them, it’s much easier to overlook and forgive their faults.
God’s love can love anybody—even your enemies! (Matthew 5:44-45). Love begets love. Ask God to help you love others with His love that passes all understanding. Love is not blind—it has an extra spiritual eye, which sees the good and possibilities that others cannot see. Ask God for His love for others, or you’ll never make it as a missionary. Only the love of Christ can compel you!
Only God’s love will make you strong enough to make it—“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Then you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). But if you have any other motive, you’ll fail. You’ll fail the people the Lord wants you to win to Him, you’ll fail your coworkers, and you’ll fail the Lord. But love never fails! “Whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. But love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Do you want to be successful for the Lord and with others? Love and you can’t lose, for love never fails! Do you want the key to every heart? Try love! It never fails, because God is love and it’s impossible for Him to fail!
If you go in God’s love, you cannot help but win them, as so many of you have discovered. God’s love is the answer to everything: It saves souls, forgives sins, satisfies hearts, purifies minds, redeems bodies, wins friends, and makes life worth living. It’s the only truth, the only way, and the only peace! “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10). You’ll not curse him, cheat him, steal from him, or lie to him, much less hurt him if you love him!
Love even prevents accidents. I gave a safety lecture in college once on how most traffic accidents are caused by a lack of love and consideration for the other driver. Not only wars, but also death on the highways is caused by pride, selfishness, and lack of love. Many of our problems are undoubtedly caused by a lack of love and the consequent breaking of His commandments, for if we truly love Him we’ll obey Him and avoid these (James 4:1; John 14:15,23).
The only way to win the world is with the love of Jesus. So make each new step to each new country a loving step, and let each new missionary be a loving missionary, and each new team a loving fellowship, and each new team leader a loving one. Then you cannot fail, for love never fails. Let’s win the world with His love! Love your way in, through, out, and around it! Long live love!