Who ought to go as missionaries?

I was a freshman at Union University when I heard Dr. Bryant Hicks, professor of missions at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speak in a chapel service on the subject, “Who ought to go as missionaries?” That was 30-something years ago. His answer has stuck with me:

1. Those who can.
2. Those who care.
3. Those who comprehend the need.
4. Those who consent.
5. Those who are called.

That same year I also heard Baker James Cauthen speak at a student missions conference about his missionary call. Dr. Cauthen was the executive director of the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. I can still hear the sound of his voice as he made an impassioned plea:

“Do not do what seems convenient. When you come to the place of decision, you do in your soul what you believe God is saying to you, and commit yourself with firmness to it.”

God used Dr. Bryant and Dr. Cauthen to call me to the mission field. I could. I cared. I comprehended the need. I consented. I was called. And I committed myself with firmness to it.

The call that took me to Africa as a young man still burns in my soul nearly four decades later, though I’m living it out in a different way and different place today.

Some are called to go and serve in other cultures. Others, to stay and support those who go. All are called to join God on His mission regardless of geography or vocation.

John Piper reminds us that we have three choices – go, send, or disobey.