Characteristics of Great Missionaries

God likes to use the most unlikely of people to achieve his greatest purposes.

The Apostle Paul was once a passionate, fiery young man. He was probably considered “the most likely to succeed” among his peers. His zeal and intelligence promised a great future in the echelons of Jewish hierarchy.

He earnestly sought to make his mark for the church by becoming a notorious persecutor of the early Christian church. His unsuspecting raids and imprisonment of believers caused great fear and trepidation. In God’s eyes, Saul was the ideal candidate for a very important job. He made an offer the young man couldn’t refuse.

By miraculously appearing before Saul on one of his journeys to combat treachery and treason, the Lord Jesus Christ dramatically redirected Saul’s life and his passion. Saul became the Apostle Paul and his life and our world would never be the same.   

His new passion and zeal was spreading the message of the resurrected Christ to all people. Instead of power and prestige found in the upper priesthood of Judaism, Paul would find sacrifice and suffering being God’s faithful servant. Miraculous escapes, sickness, fierce storms, shipwrecks and beatings would make a Paul a weathered man bound and preserved by the hand of God. 

Those who fearlessly follow God and His ways share common characteristics found in the great missionaries throughout history. They are stubborn, cause headaches for those in authority (especially mission boards), and will bend or even ignore rules that may be considered obstacles to expanding God’s kingdom.

Great missionaries could be considered as rebellious teenagers at heart. Their undeniable passion and fearlessness to place themselves at the center of God’s will, no matter what the cost, have a way of finding themselves in trouble.

The Apostle Paul, who is considered the greatest missionary in the history of the church, was often in trouble. Wherever he went, he encountered the wrath of religious authorities who strictly adhered to rules and traditions. Unfounded accusations against Paul incited riots and deflected the message of Christ’s fulfillment of all rules and laws. 

Though people intended to destroy Paul, God will use his difficult circumstances for a much greater purpose – to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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