Should we go where the action is?

Is it better stewardship to support missionaries in a region of the world where people are responding to the gospel as opposed to regions where people are not responsive?

There is a popular idea that says something like “find out what God is doing and get in on it.” There are undoubtedly different ideas that accompany that statement. One of them intends that you should only work where you are seeing visible results. In the missions world, the application is to go to countries where there is a lot of response to the gospel. Alternately, the implication is that you should not bother going to places where there are few visible results.

There are several difficulties with this idea.

1. Jesus said to take the gospel to everyone, everywhere (Mark 16:15). We don’t have the right to pick and choose who should hear the gospel. It is clear from the Great Commission that every person on the planet should hear the good news, whether or not they respond.

2. This philosophy presumes you can figure out what God is doing. There are many many stories of missionaries who left a country feeling like failures because there were no visible results but then the next generation of missionaries came there there was a huge harvest. Scripture uses agriculture as an illustration of gospel work (1 Corinthians 3:6–7). It starts with plowing, then moves to watering, fertilizing, cultivating and eventually there is a harvest. Harvesting is the fun part. Who wouldn’t want to do that? But that doesn’t happen if someone doesn’t do the hard work beforehand.

3. This approach has no scriptural backing and feeds the secular “bang for your buck” philosophy. There are groups that advertise they can win people to Christ at $1.76 per believer. That is highly attractive to a donor. The only problem is that there are some who are faithfully evangelizing without seeing results. They are being obedient to the Great Commission and are equally deserving of support. It is crass commercialism to reduce God’s work to this level.

So yes, it sure would be fun to only show up at harvest time.

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