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Are you still waiting for ‘the call’?

Are you still waiting for ‘the call’?
Posted on December 2, 2020  - By Sam K. John

Too many Christians are wasting their precious lives on trivial pursuits instead of investing them for God’s eternal purposes. Their justification: “We have not received God’s call.” The three most common misconceptions in this regard are: 

  • God’s call to missions is only for a selected few.
  • God’s call is all about someone entering into full-time ministry. 
  • God’s call is always communicated through some dramatic revelations. 

However, the evidence of the Scripture contradicts these notions. Every child of God is called to invest his or her life for kingdom purposes (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and the mission mandate is binding on all Christians without exception (Matthew 28:18-20). Likewise, all of Jesus’ followers are called to follow Him into full-time mission — that is, to love God and love others, and serve people all the time — wherever they are, and regardless of their vocation. 

The call of God into missions is not primarily about full-time or part-time involvement; rather it is about fulfilling kingdom needs. Time and again, God exposes these needs to us. That’s the call of God for us to act!

The call of God into missions is not primarily about full- or part-time involvement; it is about fulfilling kingdom needs

How do we identify a kingdom need? My suggestion is: don’t wait indefinitely for God to convey this through an unusual or spectacular sign. Open your eyes and look around. God is sovereign and He can use any microphone to get our attention. But are we listening? 

At this point, one might ask: “There will be several kingdom needs around me at any given time. How do I know what specific thing God wants me to involve in?” Start praying and get involved — He will confirm His call to you. That’s how I entered into missions. 

As I was finishing my undergraduate studies, I came across the need for a youth worker to coordinate a student ministry in the city. A senior friend who held that ministry position at the time was planning to relocate. By then, I had also realised my own interest in ministering among university students. 

One evening, in my hostel room, all alone, I prayerfully decided to give myself to fill the need that was before me. Looking back, I don’t remember God giving me a verse from the Bible or a dramatic experience or a supernatural phenomenon during that time. Nevertheless, over the next two years, God gradually confirmed His missionary call on my life through the Scripture and various circumstances. 

Let us take a look at some of the common and not-so-common means by which God’s people recognised their missionary tasks — both in Biblical times and in more recent years.

Fuelled by facts 

Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah 1:2-3  

Although Nehemiah lived in Persia, in the palace of Susa, 1,000 miles away, he kept an eye on what was happening in Jerusalem among God’s people. Taking the effort to know what is happening in world missions is an important step in developing one’s missionary burden. That’s what Nehemiah did. He wanted to know! 

Taking the effort to know what is happening in world missions is an important step in developing one’s missionary burden

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Some prefer not to know what’s going on, because information might bring obligation. What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” The facts Nehemiah discovered through his inquiry prompted him first to pray and then to act (Nehemiah 1:4-11). Eventually, he left for Jerusalem to fulfil his role in God’s kingdom (Nehemiah 2:9). God can use mission facts to fuel us into His work. 


In 1781, a sensational book was published in England under the title Journal of Captain Cook’s last voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Cook was an explorer who was killed in Hawaii in 1779. While many read Cook’s last book to satisfy their curiosity over amazing places and strange peoples, one young man’s mind was thinking about world missions. “Are there so many places and people in the world who haven’t heard about Jesus yet?” he wondered. 

He decided to do something about the vast need he’d discovered, and set some of these compelling facts in the form of a book. His little book — titled Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens — was published in 1792 and sparked an unprecedented interest in world missions. It fuelled the formation of many missionary agencies across Europe and North America during the dawn of the 19th century. 

The young man himself sailed to India as a missionary in 1793, showing the way for hundreds and thousands of young men who followed in his footsteps afterwards. No wonder he is called the Father of Modern Missions — for the young man was none other than William Carey. 

Stirred by sights 

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Exodus 2:11 

When Moses was 40 years old, he went out to where his people were to see what was happening to them. Perhaps, he knew about their suffering through his parents and sister. Now, he wanted to see for himself first-hand. Certainly, it was a conscious effort by Moses to leave behind his comfort zone to enter into the vicinity of the suffering. What he saw during his visit stirred him into action. 

The sight of an Egyptian mercilessly beating a Hebrew prompted him to do something. And though there is no justification for his killing of the Egyptian, the fact remains that the sight of his people suffering stirred him to do something for them. It ignited within him a passion for their deliverance. Moses had to wait for another 40 years for God’s timing before he could take on that mantle, but we see him eventually fulfilling his role as a deliverer of God’s people from Egypt. 

Sometimes, God uses an event, experience or sight to invite us to be part of His kingdom work. Do we keep our eyes open to those things that God wants us to see?


In 1947, a 33-year-old American youth minister, Bob Pierce, was sent to China to preach the gospel. During the four months of his stay there, thousands of people came to Jesus through huge evangelistic rallies. On his way back, he met Tena Hoelkedoer, a missionary teacher. She presented him with a battered and abandoned child named White Jade, who had given her life to Christ at Pierce’s crusade and, because of that, was beaten and abandoned by her family. 

Unable to care for the child herself, Tena asked Pierce, “What are you going to do about her?” Pierce gave the woman his last five dollars and agreed to send the same amount each month to help the woman care for the child. On his return, Pierce wrote these words in the flyleaf of his Bible: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” 

Pierce wrote these words in his Bible: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God”

What Pierce saw in China eventually stirred him to form World Vision, an international organisation that caters to the needs of the poor and downtrodden people of the world. 

Motivated by Mentors 

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:12-15

Mordecai, Esther’s mentor, was the one who knew about the impending danger for God’s people in the Persian empire. When he informs Esther about it, we see her very hesitant to take the matter up with the King at the beginning (4:11). Subsequently, Mordecai challenges her to see her larger purpose in life (4:16) and re-orient her priorities. Esther eventually fulfils her role in God’s kingdom and preserves His people. 

We all need our own ‘Mordecais’ in life — people who can inspire and motivate us towards kingdom life and mission, people who can bring us back to our Life purpose and mission, who can remind us of His great commission. To keep the missionary spirit alive, surround yourself with mission-minded friends. 


The story of Jim Elliot and four friends who gave their life for the Auca Indians remains an inspiring one. A close study of their biographies makes it evident that their friendship challenged and motivated each other towards God’s kingdom purposes. 

Jim had a great deal of influence on his childhood friend Pete Fleming and college mate Ed McCully. He was largely responsible for them becoming missionaries. Similarly, Nate Saint was instrumental in persuading the fifth member of the team, Roger Youderian, to be part of the Auca missionary endeavour. 

What the Lord achieved through the lives of these men is a challenging testimony to mission-minded friendships. 

Powered by prayer 

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Acts 13:2 

Prayer is a powerful tool in missions and kingdom building. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” We have a demonstration of this at the Antioch church (Acts 13). God raised two great missionaries, Barnabas and Paul, from amongst them, as they continued to pray for missions. 

Revelation 8:1-5 is a tremendous passage that talks about the power of prayer in missions. Commenting on this, John Piper states, “What we have in this text is an explanation of what has happened to the millions of prayers over the last 2,000 years as the saints have cried out again and again, ‘Thy kingdom come… Thy kingdom come.’ Not one of these prayers, prayed in faith, has been ignored. Not one is lost or forgotten. Not one has been ineffectual or pointless. They have all been gathering on the altar before the throne of God.” 

Who knows if the missionaries God sent to our lands in the last century were actually answers to sincere prayers of those who prayed in bygone centuries? Only eternity will reveal the full impact of our prayers.

Only eternity will reveal the full impact of our prayers


The year was 1885. Siblings Grace and Robert Wilder, who had grown up as missionary kids in India, were stirred in their spirits to ask God for a revival in missions. They felt that the church in the United States had grown cold and lethargic to the cause of worldwide evangelisation. Grace and Robert prayed that God would raise a thousand new missionaries! 

Gripped with a growing concern, Robert took time to share his vision to some of his friends at Princeton Seminary. Subsequently, six young people joined together on Sundays week after week to pray for missions. In 1886, D. L. Moody had arranged a Bible conference at Mt. Hermon, Massachusetts. Urged by his sister who was convinced that God was about to usher in a breakthrough, Robert attended the two-week long conference. There were about 200 college students from all over the United States. 

During the session breaks, Robert began sharing his vision and invited people to join him for a special time of prayer during the afternoons. Starting with four, the group soon multiplied. Robert then met Moody and persuaded him to devote two evenings to discuss missions. A. T. Pierson and William Ashmore challenged the conference crowd with the need for missionaries in 10 countries. By the last day of the conference, 99 students had signed a paper which read: “We are willing and desirous, God permitting, to become foreign missionaries.” 

The morning after the closing of the conference, the 99 volunteers met for a farewell service, and while they prayed, one more came in to join their ranks. Thus, the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) was born. Grace and Robert had asked the Lord of harvests to raise 1,000 new missionaries, but He answered their prayers with more than they could have imagined. By 1930, SVM had sent more than 20,000 missionaries to foreign lands!

May God give us the grace to yield our lives for the sake of His glory. 

Sam K. John

About Sam K. John

Based out of Bangalore, India, Sam K. John heads Emmaus Academy of Biblical Studies (EABS), a correspondence Bible school catering to assembly believers across India and the Gulf. He is married to Jiji, and they have two children together.



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