If we look back through US history, there seems to be times of revival when people were being saved and other times when people were surrendering to serve God in groves. I have heard it said more than once that God is just not calling people like He did in the past. I respectfully disagree, I think God is still calling but the problem lies more on us not listening. In this article, I’d like to suggest some reasons why I believe young people are not surrendering and how we can prepare young people to more willingly surrender. The list is in no way perfect or complete, but they do offer some basic ideas to think upon.
- The authority in their lives are not convinced
Please know that I have no interest in being disrespectful, but I have seen many young people who surrender to missions and are held back by well intentioned authority in their lives. Whether it’s not willing for them to live so far away, hating the thought of not seeing the grandkids grow up, helping them “think of future financial status” or simply saying “there is plenty of time later in life.”. Whether you serve as a spiritual leader, parent or friend, we must be sensitive to what God wants and not what we think is best.
Listen to what missiologist Ralph Winter says, “Here is a tragic fact: Only about 1 out of a 100 ‘missionary decisions’ results in actual career mission service. Why? Mainly because parents, friends, even pastors rarely encourage anyone to follow through on that kind of a decision. But what if that number could double to two out of a hundred? The effect would be explosive!”
- We are not placing the right materials in their hands
I am convinced that missionary biographies are some of the most exciting and touching books in existence, yet too often they are no where in sight (in our homes, our churches or schools/colleges). Here are a few of the books that should be available to every young person desirous of serving God.
- The Challenge of Missions by Oswald J. Smith
- Adoniram Judson, Bound for Burma by Janet and Geoff Benge
- Steps to Becoming a Missionary by Brady Van Winkle
- Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
- Jacob Deshazer, Forgive Your Enemies by Janet Benge
- They Turned the World Upside Down by Jeffrey Bush
- Gladys Aylward, The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet Benge
- George Mueller, The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet Benge
- Brother Andrew, God’s Secret Agent by Janet Benge
- Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
- They are not openly seeing missions
William Carey said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” You don’t have to agree with that statement, but I think it’s fair to say that missions cannot be expected to be on anyone’s radar if they rarely see it. If our churches have maps and missions posters on the walls, missionaries visiting, prayers for missions, updates and videos of missionaries, missions trips, yearly missions conference, and missions mentioned in our church, certainly there will be people interested in missions. No, we can’t call a person to be a missionary, but we can’t say that someone is not called if we never give them a chance to see it. So, whether at home or at church, we must ask ourselves, how much are our young people seeing missions?
- We have not been vocal about our responsibility, the need and the urgency
The church has one responsibility and that is to get the Gospel out. As Hudson Taylor said, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered but a command that must be obeyed.” The commission to be His witnesses, ambassadors, light, salt and soldiers was given to every child of God, not just to a select few in ministry. There are people that know not our God and this is to our shame (1 Corinthians 15:34). Our Savior said that the fields are white already (beyond ripe) to harvest (John 4:35) and that our time is short (John 9:4). Thank the Lord for church, a place for fellowship, worship, learning and growing, but we must remember that the church exists to get the Gospel out, not keep it within the ranks. We must be vocal about the need and pray that God will call out our young people. As one man said, “A great church is not measured by its seating capacity but by its sending capacity.”
I love this poem written by Leonard Ravenhill, the author of the very convicting book, Why Revival Tarries.
Could a Mariner sit idle
if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort
and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle,
let men in burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion,
With the world around you damned?
As we conclude this thought, we must realize that young people can surrender to God. I am convinced that if we pray and boldly talk to them to keep missions in front of them, that we will see many young people surrender to serve our Savior in the area of missions.
“God’s plan is for churches to produce, send and support missionaries during this age of grace. The work must not cease until the trumpet signals Christ second coming” — Norm Lewis
Here to Serve,