Previously a doctor in a private hospital, Josiah recently left the marketplace to serve as a ministry apprentice in his church. While his main focus is the missions portfolio, he also handles the young adults’ ministry and evangelism outreach efforts. The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.
I was first exposed to missions as a secondary school student.
I had followed my church to a short-term mission trip to Thailand. During this time, it became clear to me that there were both many people who needed – and were open – to hearing the Gospel. Matthew 9:37 tells us the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Missions showed me what this verse meant.
It was also then that I desired to be a missionary doctor. One of the books that spurred me on towards this dream was Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants by Dr Paul Brand, a missionary doctor to the lepers in India.
DOCTOR WITHOUT BORDERS
In my time as a doctor prior to my full-time ministry apprenticeship, it was most gratifying to see my patients get well – it was also a privilege to be able to play a part in treating them.
However, the most impactful and difficult parts of my medical career were encounters of death and dying. As I watched my patients’ loved ones grieve by the hospital bed, they were strong reminders that I was limited in what I could do as a doctor.
While I am not averse to the idea of continuing as a lay doctor while participating in missions work, the mission fields are white for the harvest. In my circles of influence, there is no lack of doctors nor resources – there is, however, a lack of labourers in the fields beyond. This was true during Jesus’ time, and remains true today.
If it is my primary mission to do this harvesting work, then as and when possible, all decisions made should point towards this goal. This may mean giving up my medical career and lay work. I am still working out these arrangements with my wife to ensure my life and resources are effectively stewarded for God’s kingdom.
SOWING, HARVESTING, GATHERING
Unlike long-term missions, short-term missions are resource-intensive and struggle with longer-term follow-up.
However, it is inaccurate to perceive that they are guaranteed to do more harm than good. When I consider missions, my primary consideration is the Gospel, as it is sown and reaped – the labour of the sowing and the joys of reaping the harvest are both integral to mission work.
The value of a single life saved for eternity surpasses the value of all the riches of the world combined.
John 4:35-38 tells us not to downplay the significance of short-term missions – we may never know how the seed we have sown may someday be reaped by another.
Furthermore, the value of a single life saved for eternity surpasses the value of all the riches of the world combined. As all of heaven rejoices for a single one saved, so does the sower and the reaper rejoice together.
During short-term missions, regardless whether the Gospel is sown or reaped, we rejoice when people are gathered into an eternal kingdom.
WHO WILL GO TO THE FIELDS?
There is much Kingdom work that needs to be done, which sometimes feels overwhelming.
Not only am I now busier than before, I also feel a sense of heavier responsibility – medical mission work constantly calls to mind and heart spiritual healing beyond physical healing. The work is not straightforward; the fruit of my labour may be unseen.
However, in the larger scheme of eternity, even the tiniest fruit resulting from Gospel work has value that far surpasses anything this world can offer – and that keeps me going.
If you are considering the move from the marketplace to full-time ministry, the support of your Church family is essential. In this way, I am privileged because my Church has been generous and supportive.
However, having made this decision, this also means I have to evaluate standards of living in relation to this – I cannot continue to live as lavishly as I did before my transition.
While the pursuit of full-time ministry may be difficult or discouraging at times, if God calls you to it, His love and enabling grace will see you through (Philippians 2:13).