Where are the rubies?

Recently, I came across an article entitled “9 Reasons to do the Journeyman Program.” For those unfamiliar with it, the Journeyman program is a fully subsidized program of the IMB (the world’s largest missions sending agency) – enabling recent college graduates to go to the mission field for two years.

The article, written by a former Journeyman and posted on another church’s missions web site, starts out well enough – “Our ultimate motivation to take the gospel to the nations is the glory of God.” However, the article deteriorates into an inventory of somewhat shallow and self-serving reasons including:

  • It connects you to an international network of young Christians excited about missions. Chances are you don’t know a ton of kids your age that are passionate about international missions. Through the Journeyman program you’ll meet hundreds. Also it’s nice to have couches to crash on when traveling the globe.
  • You’ll get to travel the world.  The world is a big place, but Jesus is Lord of all of it. Spending 2 years immersed in another culture will broaden your perspective and give you new insight into what the new creation will be like (Rev. 7:9).
  • It’s fully funded. Fund raising isn’t a lot of fun. Thanks to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program, Journeymen don’t have to raise their own support, but are salary field personel of the IMB with full benefits. No one becomes an international missionary for the money (salaries are modest), but it’s a blessing to not worry about where your next pay check is coming from.
  • It’s a good first job. Having 2 years of international experience looks great on a resume, and even more so, sharing the gospel with people who have never heard about Jesus beats flipping burgers.
  • It’s a good way to meet your future spouse… well, it worked for me anyway.

Build your network, see the world, get paid, build your resume, and find a spouse!

Really? Is that what its come to? 

Can you picture Paul having this conversation with Timothy before sending him to Thessalonica? 

“OK, Tim. I got this great opportunity for you. Our brothers in Thessalonica are having some trouble right now and I need you to get over there and encourage them. Think of the friends you’ll make and the contacts you’ll build! You never know when those will come in handy. Besides, you’re young — now is the time to travel the world. Our friends back in Jerusalem are covering your expenses. Heck, think of where this could lead for you! Once folks read about how much of an encouragement you are, the sky is the limit!”

Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that, as new creations, we’ve been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation — we are ambassadors for Christ. This is both a tremendous privilege as well as a tremendous responsibility.

As followers of Christ, we can’t afford to treat the great commission as a career decision, as “something great you can do for yourself,” or, maybe even worse, something to do since you didn’t find a job after graduation. Joshua Project has  identified over 7,000 people groups around the world that have no access to the gospel. That’s nearly 3 billion people with no opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. Faced with this reality, what is our response?

Want to build your network? Join a fraternity or a sorority. 

Want to travel the world and not have to worry about money or benefits? Join the Navy.

Want to be an ambassador for Christ? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

I’m reminded of a letter the famous missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, wrote to a friend back in England…

“China is not to be won for Christ by self-seeking, ease-loving men and women. Those not prepared for labour, self-denial and many discouragements will be poor helpers in the work…. The men and women we need are those who will put Jesus, China, souls first and foremost in everything and at all times: life itself must be secondary – nay, even those more precious than life. Of such men, and of such women, do not fear to send us too many. Their price is far above rubies.”

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