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travelling light (daily devotions for your elective)


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Day 21: Qualities a Missionary Needs to Display

Ezekiel 3: 15
Qualities a Missionary Needs to Display

Ezekiel, the prophet, was living with the Israelite exiles in captivity in Babylon, sharing their feelings, far away from home. That verse illustrates four qualities the man of God had in a cross-cultural situation - for us:

Identification:
Coming alongside the people to understand their feelings; being careful in our manner and clothing. For example, exposing too much flesh - by either gender - causes offence in some areas. Cultural sensitivity is needed.

Adaptability:
Adjusting to national customs, with no feelings of white superiority. Learning some of the language - even if it is only the greetings - helps to break down the barriers and indicates you are reaching out to them. Go out with the attitude of servanthood. One practical matter - the smells! They are not conveyed in the missionary films or slides. I know of some going out for the first time who are overcome with nausea, facing the odours on the ward from septic sores, etc.

Flexibility:
Early rising may be the order of the day, when it is cooler. Modes of travel may be long, tedious and uncomfortable. Getting used to local food is an ordeal for some, unwilling to give up their favourite ice cream or whatever, for several weeks!

A sense of urgency and zeal:
A Bible story that illustrates this another quality is found in II Kings 7: 3 - 11, ‘This is a day of good news … Let’s go at once and report this’ (v9). It is the story of the four men with leprosy who went over to the Aramean camp and found it deserted, with food and clothing left in abundance. They realised their responsibility to share these things with the starving people of Samaria. We in the West who have so much must be willing to readily share the Good News with the needy Third World.

Let us learn lessons from that missionary ideal, the apostle Paul, in his attitude when taking the Gospel to the Thessalonians. In I Thessalonians 2 is a man who is: courageous (v2), no impure motives (v3), a steward of the gospel entrusted to him (v4), not looking for popularity (v5), wholeheartedly involved - ‘sharing our lives’ (v8), in toil and hardship - not an overseas holiday! (v9), showing over all a genuine loving concern for the people (v8).

Prayer and Action
Spend some time reading and praying through I Thessalonians 2 asking the Lord Jesus to equip for all the work He has called you to. (Ephesians 4: 11-13)

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