1040Window

The common thing about every seminar on missions is that in the end all of the participants will end up crying, “Here I am Send me.” Every participant will pray this prayer. Missions’ seminars and conferences stir up the passion of believers to be sent as missionaries. Well, most don’t persist with this prayer. In fact weeks after the seminar many of the participants will forget the prayer and with their passion will also go low.

But there are also few people who persist on the prayer, “Here I am. Send me, Lord.” These are the few lucky people who are prayerfully planning to be missionaries. Out of this few mass, some will go even deeper in their prayers and they will be finally able to pray, “Where do you want me to go, Lord?”

It was six years ago that I prayed, “Lord, where do you want me to go?” for the first time. I have had passions for many places. I wanted to be sent somewhere to glorify God. I have prayed countless times often laying my hands on the map of Ethiopia, Africa and the world. I have taught many times on the topic of “Here I am. Send me.” However, these days, God has obliged me to change my prayer.

Do you have the heart for missions? Have you been praying, “Lord, where do you want me to go?” too? I am here to break you that God is not interested in sending anyone anywhere. God won’t send you anywhere. I’m sorry to say this but you have also been praying wrong just like me.

What’s wrong with the “Lord, where do you want me to go?” prayer?

It was the Argentine missiologist Luis Bush who coined the term the “10/40 window.” The 10/40 window is an imaginary area on the world map that extends from latitude 10 degrees N to 40 degrees N of the equator (See in the image below) covering a vast number of countries. North African countries including Ethiopia and Somalia, Asian countries including, India and China are included in the 10/40 window. What makes the 10/40 unique is that 90% of the world’s unreached unevagelized population lives in this area. This has been a very good tool to reach the unreached. Most of my days, I see the 10/40 window map and pray, “Lord, where do you want me to go?” Now you are wondering if I love this prayer, then why I think there is something wrong with this prayer.

 

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Before you go mad, let me remind you that I still believe in missions. God willing, I am on my way to be a missionary. It is Jesus who commanded us to go and make disciple of every nation in the world. So, what’s wrong with the prayer, “Lord, where do you want me to go?”

The problem with this prayer is that the whole focus of the prayer is geographical location. When I prayed, “Where do you want me to go?” I was expecting answers “There!” Well, God is not interested in places. When people pray, “Lord, where do you want us to go?” they are expecting answers like “North, east, west or south.” Unfortunately, God is not interested in places.

Many of my peers who pray this prayer do so with a very passionate heart. We’ve prayed this prayer again and again with a passionate heart to face the adventures of missions. In the meantime, subconsciously we want to go somewhere more than we want to reach someone.

Simply put the whole focus of “Lord, where you want me to go?” prayer has been nothing but places. God was never interested in places. When Isaiah cried, “Here I am. Send me” he was never talking to be sent somewhere. He wasn’t praying about places.

When Jesus said, “I send you like the Father has sent me,” He wasn’t sending the disciples to a place. The great commission on Mat 28 is not about places. When Jesus gave a final direction to the disciples saying they shall be his witnesses from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaris unto the end of the earth, He wasn’t implying geographical locations rather the progress of the missions with respect to the people of the day. Mission is not about geography! Mission is all about peoples.

God is never interested about places but peoples. God never sent us to places but to peoples. If you have been thinking much about the places you go than the people you are going to reach, my friend I will tell you that you have lost the meaning of the great commission. If you have been obsessed with the world map more that you should be with the picture of the people you will reach, you have forgotten the whole concept of missions.

How I Changed My Prayer

The greatest missionary and Apostle Paul helped me change my prayer. Look how Paul saw missions:

 “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! ...  Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Cor 9:16-23

You might see the bold phrases in the above passage, “I became”. For Paul mission was not about going somewhere but becoming someone! Paul, in order to win the Jews, became Jew. To win the gentiles, he became a gentile. To win the weak, he became weak. Paul became all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save some (Vs 22).

Mission is all about becoming the person we are going to reach and it was never about going somewhere. Mission is more about anthropology (people) and less about geography (places). Have you thought about missions this way?

God expects missionary candidates to study peoples rather than places. He desires for us to get into the adventure of becoming someone in order to win them than going somewhere. It is undeniably true that missions will involve some “going” but it is not all about “going” Mission is all about “becoming.”

We are living in a racist-tribalist world more than ever. We are witnessing ethnic clashes, migrations and internal displacement of peoples. Ethnic extremists are trying to covert everyone to their culture and understanding. The missionary’s task is to go not to places but to every nation (G. ethnos). We are to go to every ethnicity. When we go to every ethnicity, we are to become members. The moment we decided to become a missionary, we have decided to become anyone who God wants us to become.  

A Better Prayer

Hence, I have changed my prayer. I don’t just pray the shallow, “Lord, where you want me to go?” prayer anymore. I have to go so deep. I have to make people not places the center of my prayer.

Therefore, I now pray, “Lord, who do you want me to become?” I want to become the person I am going to reach. If the Lord wants me to become Somali, I will. If the Lord me to the Yemeni people, I will become Yemeni. If the Lord sends me to the Arabs, I will become an Arab. If the Lord sends me to Eritrea, I will become Eritrean. I will become all things to all men so that by all possible means he might save some (1st Cor 9:22).

I pray to God to raise a generation of missionary or mission minded Christians who pray daily, “Lord, who do you want me to become?” in the ethnically charged age. A missionary is not someone who leaves his place for another place. A missionary is someone who leaves his whatever identity to become the people he is going to reach so that he might save some. “Lord, who do you want me to become?”

 

 

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