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Mission Motives

Mission Motives

Ever wonder why missionaries choose to go to the unknown? Why they choose to be in another culture? Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum did too. With the help of WGM partner organization Missio Nexus, he was able to research that very topic. Read more to find out what the study showed about why missionaries choose to go.

Mission Motives: Why North Americans Serve and Stay Cross-Culturally

In 2016, a professor of ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado, Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum, sought to discover what motives lie behind Christians who make a decision to serve in foreign lands as missionaries. At the outset of the project, he theorized that many go overseas as a means to escape the decadent North American culture. He asked Missio Nexus to collaborate with him to survey the North American mission community to test his thesis. This report is the result of those findings.

As you read this brief report, the facts will testify to themselves: God calls and His people respond. With worldly wisdom, this simply is difficult to understand. But under the power of His Holy Spirit, God moves His people to do things that simply don’t make sense humanly speaking. When God calls His people, selfless service is rendered to our King for the advancement of His Kingdom. Through His leading, people seek to be faithful servants who provide cups of cold water and also proclaim Living Water in some of the most forgotten corners of this world.

“The evangelization of the world waits not on the readiness of God but on the obedience of Christians.” —Bill M. Sullivan

The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives can confirm with our spirit that we belong where we are serving. Language may still be elusive, food may still be new, culture may be nuanced and unfamiliar, but God can and will give us peace in our destination. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed felt that they have assimilated into the society where they are serving. Time is the equalizing factor. We cannot rush cultural adaptation. We must give it the time that it takes to see, hear, smell, learn and allow God to transform us so that we can love His people as if they are our people too.

“Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.” —Robert C. Shannon

MORE: Read the full report.

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