I’ve never been the kind of person who constantly watches or reads the news. In fact, oftentimes I know much less than the average TV watcher should know about current events. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t care.
My philosophy about my awareness of the things happening in the world has always been that of limitation: I try to know them only in a general way, without being burdened by them, and only if I need to. Yes, I’m no news buff, no watchman, because honestly, what can I do about this multitude of problems that will make any difference? Rather, as befitting my personality, my focus has been internal. I seek to know God more — the only one who has the power to make a real difference — and to further prepare myself to be of use to him. As the Bible says:
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might…. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:10,12 WEB
However, now that I’m undergoing training for the ministry in Bible school, it is imperative that I start now taking more seriously the world around me: I need now to give also some time in my studies to the world outside.
A class that we’ve just finished was a survey of world religions, and our study was made from a missionary point of view. This blog post is a reworking of the paper I submitted for that class. I had thought of expounding more on my materials, and even to look back into my life, but then I’ve realized that I don’t have the energy for that right now. What I need to do is to write down things clearly and concisely, and then move on.
It is no secret that we Christians are commissioned by our Lord Jesus to “evangelize the world.” We call this the Great Commission, and it is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Some, obviously, don’t make the effort. Some do it out of obligation. And some do it because of our love for Jesus. We want other people to experience also the salvation and new life we have received.
Before, in my mind, there were only the general terms of the unsaved and the lost — the people whom we need to take our message to. But now that I’ve taken this class, my eyes have been opened to two important things.
First, I have gained a much deeper understanding of what it truly means to be (futilely) searching for God through the many pathways that religions offer.
And second, I have gained a much deeper appreciation of the hardships that front line missionaries endure for the sake of the gospel and their love for God.
And the result of my eyes being opened to these truths? My deep passion for sharing God’s love to the world — back when I was a new believer — has been reawakened and reignited.
Yes, it is true. God has now called me for the missions. To be involved in his work in taking the gospel to those who have never known or even heard of Jesus.
To say that my life has been shaken by this call is an understatement.
Before I continue, my friends, let me tell you upfront that I believe God doesn’t want me to become a full-fledged missionary. I say this especially to those of you who personally know me. No, I’m not going to leave behind my present life and live on a secluded mountain somewhere. But great changes have indeed come to my life. In a nutshell: I’ve started adjusting and making rearrangements so that someday I’ll be ready to participate in missionary trips, anytime and anywhere.
Now, I will tell you about these realizations that have come to me after receiving this call. You see, my friends, I’ve come to understand more God’s workings in my life. And the bottom line is that, though I believe that God does want me to do other things for him, particularly in my writing and teaching, being a missionary has always been a part of his plans for me. The following shows how God has laid down the foundations for this part of my calling.
Realization # 1
Because of my situations both at home and school (where I grew up wanting love and affirmation), and because my expression as an artist was never given freedom when I was young, I had known what it means to have that gaping hole in my heart and soul — a hole that only God could fill. Having thus experienced this personally, I feel a special tenderness for those who are intently looking for God to fill the emptiness in their lives.
Realization # 2
I recognized my need for God, and I was searching for him and was open to the gospel. However, the evangelism that was done on me when I was in college was destructive, and the result was that my faith was nearly annihilated.
I had accepted long ago that God had allowed that to happen, so that I could be molded the way he wanted me to be. But now his purpose for that has become much clearer. Having thus experienced this — to have my beliefs trampled on — I have acquired this special sensitivity and carefulness in sharing the Good News to other people. This, I’ve learned, is not only essential but imperative when you are a missionary — one who shares the gospel not only to those who do not believe, but most especially to those of other faiths.
Realization # 3
To be loved by Jesus is the sweetest thing. This I have known since I fell in love with him. And given my dark past, experiencing his love for the first time was double pleasure.
And it is no small thing either, the reality of the new life he promises.
Jesus said that he is the only way to Father (John 14:6). Having thus known his love deeply and also his salvation, I know this to be unequivocally true, and so I can confidently say to other people, “Jesus is indeed the only way.”
Realization # 4
I had only made mentions of this before, but for a whole decade since I became a believer, I had no real church.
And this had given me serious disadvantages, yes. In some areas I’m still learning what I should have learned years ago as a Christian. But spending that much time alone with God has also given me a unique level of maturity and a deep knowledge of him.
I’m not afraid to be alone, with only God at my side. This is what being churchless for a decade has taught me.
Therefore, I know that I wouldn’t be that lonely or that helpless if someday I ever find myself on the missions field… alone.
Realization # 5
As you all know, my friends, from my testimony and announcements, I’ve been having a hard time establishing this ministry, Swordsman of the Word. Besides having no financial resources to begin with, I’ve also experienced rejections, and to the extent that God’s intervention was needed just for me to be able to carry on.
But you know what, God has also allowed these things to happen. And that is because he wants me to understand, in a very personal way, the struggles of ministers and missionaries on the field — those who do what they do just because of their calling and love for Jesus, but who are receiving little or no support at all for their work and sacrifices.
If you visit my Patreon page, you would see the changes I’ve made to help address this matter.
Realization # 6
Before this blog, this ministry, I’d already been blogging, on and off, for a long time. But you wouldn’t have heard of me, most probably, because I never intended to reach a wide audience. It was just me, doing what I could to share God’s love to others.
I’d also like you to know, my friends, that I never wanted to become a pastor. I never saw myself taking care of and leading a congregation. In fact, I have an “aversion” to the very idea. Instead, I want to be free, to be able to follow God wherever he leads me.
I realize now that these two things — my desire to share God’s love to the world, and my desire to be free — are but only expressions of my missionary heart. Or rather, of my teacher-missionary heart.
Realization # 7
The first clear calling I’ve received from God is that he wants me to become a teacher of his Word. That was the main reason behind this blog. But looking back now, I see that something was still missing at that time.
A missing half-piece. Which I’ve found when I received this calling for the missions. Now I feel complete.
The Great Commission itself consists of two parts: To evangelize, and to teach. And this passage of the Scriptures is what God has used to speak to me about these things. He also wants me to go out, to other nations, to make him known and to make disciples for him — using both my passion to share the gospel, and my passion to know and teach the hidden and deep things of his Word.
Realization # 8
Finally, the last of my realizations, and it’s about blogging as my livelihood. You see, not many people are believing that this could work out. They keep on telling me to find a “real job.”
If only they could see the potential that blogging has, especially to someone like me who is planning to go out someday on the missions field….
To write about the things I love… to do what I love to do, and that is to serve my Lord Jesus… and to have the freedom to do these things because of the support of the people who love me and believe in me… I tell you, this is one dream job worth fighting for.
God sure did know what he was doing, when he led me down this road.
And So… Now What?
As I’ve mentioned above, I believe that God doesn’t want me to become a full-fledged missionary. Personally, I also do not see myself as one. I do believe that there are other things that God wants me to do for him. Certainly, I need to be involved in my local church too.
Besides, I want to have a family of my own someday, and I definitely want to build that family in a safe place — a place where my children can grow up healthy and without fear — and not in the missions field.
There are different roles one can play in missions. I anticipate going in short-term missions trips, but for now, the main roles I’m seeing that God wants me to play are in mobilizing people to participate, and in financially supporting missionaries — two functions that this blog could be effective in.
However, what are my priorities right now? All these talk about missions would be useless if I don’t first establish my own life and my work for God as a blogger. And so that is my top priority. Besides, I’m still undergoing training in Bible school (and hopefully, in missions training too, as soon as possible), and so any thought of deeply involving myself in real missionary work will have to wait.
But just knowing that someday I’ll be out there, visiting many places and meeting many people, has given me this kind of motivation I never had before.
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
How has this ministry helped you, my friend? Have you started to know God more?
The truth is, all these things I’ve talked about won’t have any real meaning to you unless you first have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to start such a relationship (and to know the story, the privileges, and the responsibilities that accompany this relationship), please read this: God’s Plan of Salvation.
Maybe you already have a relationship with God, my friend. Or maybe you’re not ready yet to take that step. Either way, if you are blessed by what you’ve read, even if only a little, and you want to stay blessed and grow in your knowledge of God, I’m inviting you to join my mailing list now, and receive my posts in your inbox.