Until a few months before my university graduation, I had dreams and ambitions similar to the average African millennial; finish school, get a job or start my own business and be part of changing my country. The plot twist came right when I was about to decide whether to pursue entrepreneurship or climb the corporate ladder pursuing a career in finance, God flipped the script in a direction I never expected.
It was during this time that God started to place a strong burden on my heart for reaching those who had never heard the gospel, particularly in my country, Malawi. During this period, one of the questions I asked myself was “where are the local missionaries?” “Why don’t I know any Malawian missionaries” (or thought I didn’t). I already had the desire to serve and disciple young people, and I was able to do that through being a Young Life volunteer, something I had done for 3 years. As time went by, the burden grew bigger the more I prayed about it, eventually, God made things clear when I got asked by my then Metro Director Mphatso Stiles to join Young Life as a staff person. This was when my perspective on what it means to be a missionary changed.
During this season, I learned that being a missionary isn’t always about going, sometimes actually most times it’s about staying. I was ready to pack my bags and move into rural Malawi and plug myself into the culture there for the sake of sharing the gospel, but on the contrary, God was telling me to stay. Stay right where I was, serving my neighborhood and city; that was when I also realized how many missionaries I knew.
I began to look around me. I was surrounded by young men and women who on a weekly basis are going out into their neighborhoods and high schools to hang out with teenagers, share the gospel and open the Bible with them. They are the unsung heroes. The missionaries we might never read about in history books. They are Young Life leaders. Men and women who believe that God has given them a command that is to be obeyed and that is to “go and make disciples of all nations”. I believe that the first nation God has called me to make disciples in is my own, particularly where he has placed me now. One of my favorite verses, Acts 17:26, leads me to believe that I am where I am not because of a random series of events that led me here, but that God in his divine wisdom and power before the foundation of the world chose me to be here. Viewing this truth in light of the gospel changes everything because it means wherever God has placed me, I need to be fulfilling the great commission there.
The majority of us will never have the chance to move across an entirely different culture just to share the gospel, not all of us are supposed to. God calls some of us, perhaps even most of us to stay where we are and plant the gospel there. We don’t have the challenge of adapting to a new culture or learning a new language, all we have in what God has given us and where he has placed us.
For me, that looks like living in the heart of the city of Blantyre, it looks like knowing my neighborhood really well and reaching the teenagers here. To my friend Jonathan who is a Young Life leader it looks developing software during the week and leading a bible study with teenagers on Saturday. To my friend Hannah, it looks like being a university student and using that as an opportunity to help her friends in high school through life.
What does obeying God’s great commission look like in your life? Where are you right now? Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, and what if that call starts with our nation?