I recently had a delightful discussion with Pastor Carlos Marchan of Ecuador. He is a man who gave his heart to our Lord Jesus as a teenager and quickly felt the call of God on his life TO GO and minister to others. He prepared himself as best he could, and then he left everything to preach the gospel in a strange place. He pioneered a work where no church was, and out of his efforts came over one dozen churches.
This is a classic example of missions. God calls someone to go not just to his neighbors and his own community, but to the ends of the earth. Who are these people that leave everything behind to follow the Lord? We can call him a missionary, or an evangelist, or an apostle. Pastor Carlos goes by the title “pastor” because that’s what is customary for a man in his position in ministry. But like other church planters before him, he left it all behind to win souls and teach them how to be like Jesus.
What does the Bible call someone like him? The word “missionary” is not found in the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes in one place that “Jesus gave [to the church] apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers”. [Ephesians 4:11.] There are other gifts and callings as well. However, they all have one thing in common: they are all sent to someone, somewhere.
The truth is, Jesus told us ALL to Go into all the world and proclaim the good news; to Go and make disciples of all nations. [Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15]. He didn’t say only evangelists should go. People of all kinds need to go!
Let’s look at Acts 8, where we read about Philip. He ended up travelling far from Jerusalem to the city of Samaria. Philip began to preach and “the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.”[ Acts 8:6-7 ESV]
As a result, “they believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”[ Acts 8:12 ESV]
That’s what an evangelist does. He goes out and tells people about the Lord. Then God does miracles, so people repent of their sins and become disciples of Jesus.
Later on, the Apostles Paul and Barnabas did similar work. They were sent out from Antioch to preach in many places that had not heard the good news about Jesus. One difference between these two and Philip was that Paul and Barnabas decided to go back and encourage the churches they planted. We read that near the end of their first missionary journey “they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith,” [Acts 14:21-22 ESV] We read later on that Paul felt “daily pressure … of my anxiety for all the churches”. [ 1 Corinthians 11:28.] He therefore kept in contact with the churches to continually guide and encourage them. That’s what an apostle does.
Not only were evangelists and apostles sent, we also see teachers and prophets going as they were led. In Acts 11, we see how Barnabas brought Paul to the church at Antioch so he could help Barnabas teach the new believers. [Acts 11:26 ESV.] The next thing we see is that “in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch” [Acts 11:27].
Even pastors are called to go. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” [Matthew 9:36 ESV] God wants to send pastors to all of the lost people so that their broken hearts can be put back together.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – all said “Yes” when the Lord said, “Let’s Go!”
Pastor Carlos Marchan was just one person, but because of his obedience God changed an entire region in the Amazon jungle. He didn’t worry about whether he was called to be a missionary. God called and he said “Yes”. What will you do? Will you obey the call?
©2021 Heart of Titus Ministries, Inc.