LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Students preparing for summer missionary service should be ready to “suffer for the Gospel,” a former missionary to Panama asserted in an April 24 commissioning service at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Apostle Paul’s experiences in Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead provide believers with a model for missions and prayer, said Daniel Hatfield, vice president of student services at Southern.
Recalling his experiences as a Foreign Mission Board appointed missionary in Panama, Hatfield challenged the 22 Southern students who will be serving overseas and across the United States to have the courage of Paul.
Hatfield observed Paul’s persecution in Lystra came after the healing of a lame man and an initially enthusiastic response to the Gospel.
“Deny yourself, take up your own cross and be ready to suffer for the gospel,” charged Hatfield to the summer missionaries.
Addressing those not being commissioned, Hatfield added Acts 14 can also “guide us in how to pray for our missionaries.”
Christians should first pray missionaries will cross “cultural chasms” to preach to people who have never heard the gospel in an intelligible way, said Hatfield.
Believers should also pray missionaries will depend upon God’s power and not their own.
“We should pray that missionaries will walk in confidence in the grace of God, empowered by his Spirit, authorized by his Word, regardless of whether the gospel is ignored, rejected or reviled,” said Hatfield. Just as Paul and the early church experienced supernatural protection and sustaining grace through their trials, so can the assembled summer missionaries.
Prayerful Christians additionally should ask God to give the missionaries an anticipation of “spiritual warfare, rather than spiritual welfare.”
Finally, believers should pray regardless of the obstacles missionaries face, they will “keep on the move,” progressing spiritually for the long haul. Missionaries must be “spiritual backpackers with eschatological urgency,” said Hatfield.