Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. – 2Cor. 4:1 NIV.
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A Missionary is one sent on a religious mission, especially to promote the doctrines of a religion and in this case Christianity, in a foreign country. With all that has been said of Christianity, if one who makes claim to being a Christian does not see him/her self as a missionary, then such is yet to understand the foundation of his existence. The above definition identifies that one who is a Missionary must have a calling to promote a religion in a foreign land. This is very apt with regards to the Christian who Jesus says cannot come to him unless he/she is called by the father (Jn. 6:44) and the Apostle Paul says must have been identified for such role by the Almighty God before he was born – Rom. 8:29-30. It therefore implies that every Christian is an ambassador of Christ. Every one called has a single purpose which was spelt out in the speech of Jesus Christ to his disciples. They were to go into the world and preach the gospel, baptising all those who hear and believe – Mk. 16:15-17. They are all to realise that they are mere sojourners in this world as they will leave at some point to render account of their stewardship here in this realm – Jn. 14:1-4; Heb. 11:13-14. Having established this fact, it is important that all take a cue from people who have played their missionary roles successfully in this realm so they can also achieve similar success. The Apostle Paul no doubt belongs to this group as he himself had grace to acknowledge – 2Tim. 4:7-8.
He was able to achieve success because as one who had a ministry entrusted on him by grace, he revealed in today’s scripture that he refused to lose heart by which he meant he refused to be discouraged due to the challenges faced at any point of the task. There are usually many experiences in the course of the missionary journey that are enough to discourage one, making one to question the genuineness of one’s call but then, such should retain the faith in the one that made the call. In the midst of all these experiences, the Apostle Paul says the missionary should not be a conqueror but should be more than a conqueror – 2Cor. 5:7-12; Rom. 8:31-39; 2Cor. 11:1-33.
Aside from avoiding being discouraged, the Apostle Paul lists the following as requirements for a successful missionary work:
1. Renouncing of all secret and shameful ways – 2Cor. 4:2a. The life you were living before your call was activated will not matter as long as you renounce them and ensure that you do not go back to them once you commence your ministry duties. It is possible to have a dark past but such past will have no meaning if after repentance, you do not go back to them. Renounce all those dark past and begin to enjoy your new life in the ministry.
2. Refuse to use deception of any type for any purpose – 2Cor. 4:2b. Attempting to deceive by presenting a picture different from your real person will always have a backlash effect. Be natural as much as possible so that people will know you for who you really are, just as it is important to avoid the use of deceitful testimonies with the intention to enhance the faith of new converts and old members. It will soon be seen as deceit and the entire Christian faith will be smeared. Be as real in all situations as possible.
3. Ensure that the word of God is not distorted in any way – 2Cor. 4:2c. Just as Paul advised Timothy, success in the mission work will be better achieved if the missionary presents him/her self as an approved workman that rightly divides the word of truth. Presenting the Word in a twisted manner can only produce a ministry filled with members who have been wrongly fed. They will always be presented as spiritually malnourished Christians.
4. Speak the truth of the Word of God always and leave every one to their conscience to do what each deems right – 2Cor. 4:2d. The approach should be to allow each person take a decision without any form of manipulation as any other approach will be fraudulent. All the gains made fraudulently will be accounted for, if not in this realm, then definitely in the life after life. What will be your gain as a missionary if you gain the whole world backing your lies with the Word and lose your soul – Mk. 8:36
5. Preach the Word of God and not yourself and in plain words, so that only those who are perishing will deny understanding what is being preached – 2Cor. 4:3-5. Every ministry is expected to preach the message of the one who sent the missioner as anything short of this will be a disservice. There will be no way that such a missioner can expect success in the mission. Just as the Apostle Paul advised Timothy, ensure that all you preach at all times is the message of truth and let your personality as the messenger be as invisible as possible 2Tim. 4:2.
Coming from someone who succeeded in his ministry, there is no doubt that there is much to gain for anyone who accepts this set of advise. You have a mission which you will need to give account of at some point. You are not in Christianity because of food and drinks. You were called to call others. Your success will not only depend on your avoiding discouragement but also on how you implement your ministry task. Work towards a successful mission by preparing adequately for all its challenges. May God see you through it in Jesus name. Amen.