Over half my life has been devoted to missions, particularly in New Zealand and the South Pacific. My only regret is that it hasn’t involved most or all of my life. In my younger years this was one of the furthest things from my mind, but God has a way of broadening our horizons beyond our feeble imaginations.
Why did I get involved in missions? When I became a Christian at the age of 14, I fully intended to give the rest of my life to the Lord. Unfortunately, in my later teenage years, I allowed myself to be negatively influenced by the wrong kind of people and went astray. By the grace of God I survived my “wilderness wandering,” and while attending a Christian college (Freed-Hardeman University) I realized that the people I admired and respected the most were those who took their faith seriously. Once I got back on track and started growing again spiritually, I never looked back. I was convicted by God’s love and providential care and was determined to show Him my appreciation and live up to His expectations. As a disciple of Jesus I accepted my God-given “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and was compelled to fulfill it.
Where would I go to do the Lord’s work? It was never really a matter of where I was needed, since I could faithfully serve God wherever I happened to be. The question for me was where I might be needed the most, and since the majority of full-time workers in the Lord’s church were (and still are) in the USA, somewhere overseas was my main consideration. But there were over a thousand different places I felt that I needed to be, so I had to narrow down my options. Through the influence of former missionaries to New Zealand, and having done extensive research, corresponding with New Zealand Christians, and a lot of praying, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Being a long-term missionary in New Zealand became my primary focus, and the next few years were invested in preparing to achieve this goal.
With whom would I work? I wasn’t successful in forming a team, so it was a matter of either going by myself or not going at all. In my mid-20s I moved to Wellington, New Zealand and worked with the church there as a single evangelist for seven years. I then served as missionary-in-residence at Freed-Hardeman University for the next two years, during which time I married my wife Lynne. As newlyweds we moved to Wanganui, New Zealand, where our two daughters were born. We spent seven years establishing the church in Wanganui with two other families (a mix of New Zealanders and North Americans). After teaching Bible and missions at FHU for another seven years, I took a two-year leave of absence and we returned to New Zealand to plant the church in Porirua City, with the assistance of the nearby Wellington congregation. Now we’re back at FHU, while three other couples (FHU graduates) are carrying on the Porirua work.
What have we done to reach the lost in New Zealand? The very best source of contacts for the gospel are friends and family members of those who are already Christians. Visitors to our worship assemblies are also good prospects. But when a brand new work is being started, other means are necessary. Bible literature distribution (letterboxing) and door-knocking are good ways to make initial contacts, with whom we always try to set up Bible studies. While this type of work is done on a smaller scale by the evangelist and local Christians, periodically larger campaign groups (principally from the USA) are utilized to make an even greater impact on the community. Other outreach efforts have included gospel meetings and special seminars, Holiday Bible Schools, Bible correspondence courses, youth and family activities, and benevolence. When conversions result from personal Bible studies, continued follow-up is invested to ground new converts in the faith and incorporate them into the life of the church.
How can you get involved in this kind of work? Here are five suggestions:
1. Dream. This is where it all begins. You must envision yourself actively involved in God’s work, not only enjoying His rich blessings but fulfilling your God-given responsibilities in His kingdom.
2. Desire. Your dream will at some point convict your heart and compel you to pursue it. We must have faith that the Lord will help us do whatever He has commissioned us to do.
3. Decision. The next step is to move beyond merely thinking about it and resolve to do something about it. This includes deciding where to go and making the necessary preparations.
4. Determination. It’s not going to be easy, and you can’t allow the inevitable setbacks and discouragements to prevent your dream from becoming reality. Giving up cannot be an option. As you are determined to do your part, trust that God will open the doors and take care of the rest.
5. Dedication. You have to be wholeheartedly committed to what you are doing for the Lord. Never let the devil win. As you remain faithful to the task, believe that with God on your side anything you set your mind to do can be accomplished.
While I am currently involved in recruiting and training prospective missionaries, admittedly my heart is still in the mission field. Once you’re a missionary, you’re always a missionary. Whatever you decide to do in the Lord’s service, and wherever you plan to do it, just think about where you might be needed the most and how you can make the greatest impact in view of eternity. I can confidently say without reservation that when you step into those missionary shoes, your life will never be the same!
--Kevin L. Moore
Originally appearing in Hashtag Media's Mission (May 2013) under the title, "New Zealand Missionary."
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