The Missionary We Would Like To Produce
November 1, 1987
Faith Baptist Theological Seminary
The Missionary We Would Like To Produce
Robert G. Delnay, Th.D.
Some years ago a notable Baptist leader was fond of remarking that the only thing more important than sending out a missionary is training a missionary worth sending out. There is much to be said for this idea and Faith Baptist Theological Seminary is concerned to see its graduates worthy of serving either abroad or at home. To this end we purpose to encourage several qualities in them.
1. Walk With God
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3).
If a person wants the Holy Spirit’s power in his work, it looks as if he must walk with God. He will mean it when he sings, “All to Jesus I surrender,” or “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” He puts Christ above any member of his family and clings to no treasure on earth. He gives to Christ the key to every chamber of his heart and the title to his every possession. He lives by the Bible and spends time every day reading it. He does not count his life dear unto himself, because he belongs to Christ by a deep and final commitment. He keeps purifying his own motives, because he has learned to mistrust his impulses. He wants to walk with God because he loves Him. That sort of walk is what we long to see in our students.
In a community of scholars we can encourage one another to a life of vital prayer. We suppose that God often withholds His blessings until His servants come and ask for them. Through prayer we enjoy God’s fellowship and the sweet sense of His presence. Through prayer we grip His willingness to provide. When we pry, God has a way of opening sinners to hear the Gospel. Prayer is our first recourse in trouble.
We also believe that spiritual life reveals itself in faith. We trust to see graduates who live by their confidence in God’s Word and faithfulness, who believe that He is able to save souls and raise up churches. A missionary needs to believe in the power of God to care for the national leaders after the last missionary has gone.
2. Get Along With Others
The untold story of missions is the conflict that so often divides the personnel, but which is so rarely reported in the homeland. We have no easy answer to this problem that has concerned missionaries ever since Acts 15. Carey went through agonies with the later missionaries who joined him in India . The same story has been repeated since then times without number. Therefore we will try in class and out of it to prepare our students to show the fruit of the Spirit toward one another right here in our seminary. We will attempt to confront in love. We will encourage a spirit of Christian forbearance among ourselves, in the hope that when our students enter service, they may treat one another in love, accept hurts graciously, and forgive easily. Because their love will be tested.
3. Prepare To Be Deported
These days our missionaries don’t know when they might hear the knock at the door and the curt announcement, “You have forty-eight hours to leave our country.” Paul was able to found a vital church in Thessalonica in just about three weeks time, and his longest ministries lasted only about two years. We need to think in terms of the short time that we may have. The King’s business requires something like haste.
We therefore want to see our graduates set clear, Biblical goals. We make our primary goal the winning of lost people so as to form New Testament churches. We believe that those churches ought to be indigenous, which means self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. We believe that this can be done with a small investment of money and a large investment of concern and Biblical wisdom. We ask our men to cultivate courtesy toward the national brethren and to gain a sympathetic understanding of the host culture. We remind them that they are to carry themselves as guests in someone else’s country. We expect them to train national leaders and trust God for their maturity. We teach these things as the surest path to making strong national churches.
4. Cultivate Enterprise
By whatever means we can, we aspire that our graduates be people of enterprise. We long for people who make things happen, who keep alert to opportunities for service, and who do not need to wait for someone else to open those opportunities for them.
Some missionaries are forever asking such questions as, “Is this the best way to do it?” “What will it take to get this project moving?” “Why am I not getting the results I have hoped for?” They are inventive about making contacts with people in order to lead them to Christ. They do not change for the sake of change but they do have the vision to get fresh means of fulfilling the great commission. They will find ways to make do with little, to put people to work, and to inspire devotion. We want to produce such leaders.
5. Learn To Communicate
Surely we all agree on the need for faithful Bible study in the work of the Lord. We would probably agree that we all need to be “apt to teach.” Let us also agree that we need to produce communicators, people who can get ideas across. This means that every missionary we produce ought to be a capable teacher. It means also that each one ought to have the fire to preach.
If there is another application of this principle, however, it is that we produce people with a concern for language. We don’t offer linguistics, but we do trust to motivate our students to love the original languages of Scripture, and even these studies can help prepare them to learn national languages. We will also keep before them the goal of speaking those national languages with precision and with as nearly perfect an accent as possible.
While these goals would seem to apply to those graduates who become missionaries, we believe that these qualities ought in some way to mark all those who try to serve the Lord. Ideally there ought to be an easy transition between a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, or an administrator.