This will be the final post in this blog series. I actually had other topics that I was originally going to include in this series, but those who have to wait for another time. Thus far, I have shared the following specific characteristics of an effective missionary…
An effective missionary…
- reports back to those who are partnered with him
- does what he is sent to do
- pleases Jesus
- serves on the field with his family
- creates a solid foundation for ministry
- learns from others
- prepares for the future
- learns the language
- keeps in contact
- continues to grow
- helps helps his children love the mission field.
- goes on furlough
- is humble
And now we come to our final characteristic, an effective missionary stays. Randy Stirewalt was a missionary in Kenya for 42 years. He passed away in April 2020. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I have been fortunate enough to learn from him through others he has taught. The following story is something that a friend told me, I don’t know a lot of details, I don’t even know the name of the missionary that was speaking with Bro. Stirewalt, but the lesson is priceless!
Bro. Stirewalt was asked by a young missionary how to have a successful ministry. Bro. Stirewalt responded that the key to the ministry was staying. He said that these young missionaries want to do in four years, what takes a lifetime to do. A strong, long lasting ministry takes time, more time than we would like, but one of they keys to having a strong “successful” ministry is staying.
Brother Stirewalt knew what he was talking about. From what others told me, it wasn’t until his third term that he started seeing real growth! Two terms (consisting of four years each) past without seeing much fruit, but on that third term, the ministry really multiplied!
According to Don Mingo, in his book, “So you want to be a missionary”, half of new missionaries do not last beyond their first term. I know there are reasons for this, and I am certainly not judging another man for leaving the mission field. There are valid reasons for leaving, and that are other reasons that may not be. Valid or not, to see great and lasting change, it is going to a missionary who sticks with it. When there is a lot of fruit, the missionary stays at it, and when there are seasons of little to no fruit, the missionary stays. An effective missionary stays. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t take furloughs, it means that he gives his life to that field.
Ultimately, it is God who will decide how long a missionary stays on the field, He has every right to guide His servants as He sees fit. I don’t know what God has for us, but as for now, we do not have any plans of leaving Argentina. I would like to give my life to planting churches and training men in Argentina. I believe God is using us, and I believe it is only the beginning. We want to continue serving the Lord where He has placed us.
To have a lasting effect on the mission field, the missionary must stay at it. It will take longer than one term (four years), it takes time, but don’t quit, keep going, keep pushing, keep attempting great things for God on the field. The harvest is coming, stay at it!