As I talk with various people about being “called” to Honduras as missionaries, I suppose one question that needs to be addressed is this: “what does it mean to be called to be a missionary”?
Indeed, many people simply accept that they are called, or that someone else is called, without really questioning that. I don’t believe anyone has specifically asked me “why do you feel called” and “what does being called mean”. I’ve asked myself that question quite a few times and what follows (lengthy, I’m afraid) is the answer that I’ve come to thus far.
First of all, the greatest call that has ever been issues is probably the “great commission” that Jesus issues to His disciples just before His ascension into the clouds.
Matthew 28:16-20 (New International Version)
The Great Commission
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is generally accepted in the Christian community that this commissioning applies to all of us who claim the Name of Christ. Therefore, one could certainly argue that no further calling is needed for mission work. I do not know who said it, but I’ve read that “You need a specific reason to stay home, not a specific call to go to the mission field . .”
Still in all, we speak of being called to the mission field quite often. I did some reading in Acts last night and tried to examine they “why” involved with Paul’s missionary journeys. As is so often the case, the details are not always as clear as we’d like them to be. Most of the time, Luke reports that Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas, went somewhere, it is the exception that he tells us why they went there. In Acts 13 we see Barnabas and Saul (I believe that this is actually Paul being called by his “old” name before conversion) set apart for “the work” during a time of worshipping and fasting. Perhaps if anyone fasted anymore, we might see more of this type of “setting apart” however, now it seems that we must end our Sunday evening service promptly at 6:30 so that we can all get home to dinner. Again in Acts 13 we see the “two of them” (Barnabas and Paul) “sent on their way by the Holy Spirit”. This certainly seems to indicate that they were lead by the Spirit, but no details are provided as to how this worked. Was it supernatural instruction, or simply them using their best judgment augmented by prayer? We simply don’t know. From here, Luke tells of lots of places that they “went to” or “returned from” but from my reading, I don’t see much detail at all about why they went certain places until we get to Acts 16. In Acts 16 (6-10), we see Paul and his companions having been “kept from preaching the Word” in some provinces of Asia. One again, we don’t know if this was a physical impairment, some type of supernatural blockade, or simply a deep sense of foreboding by Paul. In verse 9 of Acts 16, we finally get down to something that we sink our teeth into. A Macedonian appears to Paul in a dream begging him to come and help them. Well enough, Paul concludes that “God had called us” to preach the Gospel to the Macedonians. Finally! Someone is called! Well, this calling lands Paul in Silas in a bunch of hot water. Beaten, jailed, and in stocks, they worshipped their way out of near death and ended up being escorted out of town by the city officials. If you haven’t read it, it is a great story in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, verses sixteen through forty.
The pattern that I see in Acts seems to be simply that Paul goes places as he is lead by the Lord. I can only conclude that he went to those places seeking (and believing that he was following) the will of God. I don’t know how this looked for Paul, but I’ll bet it was rooted in prayer and that most everything that he did came from an abiding relationship with Christ, whom he loved. A simple study on the word “called” in the New Testament seems to reveal to me that the word called is used in much more as it refers to our calling by God to be reconciled to Himself through Christ, i.e. our salvation.
So why are we going to Honduras? Did I have a dream of Honduran man pleading with me to come and help? No. Simply stated, we go believing that we are following the will of God for our lives. We believe this on the basis of several things:
• This is the desire of our hearts. The missionary hospital in Honduras answers many of the deep desires that we believe God put in our hearts. It is in a Latin culture, out of the US, in an area of abject poverty. It is a warm, beautiful place where children are valued and where God is at work among a very deep community of believers who choose to take the Gospel seriously. God put these desires in our hearts, and He met them in this “call”, we believe.
• The “calling” has been confirmed by local church members and our pastor here in the Gulf Coast. Our friend and family have ALL told us that this seems like a good fit for us to them. Our parents are in agreement. We (husband and wife and children) are agreement. No one is dragging anyone to Honduras. We all want to go. We all believe that we are supposed to go.
• The “calling has been confirmed by a two week visit to Loma De Luz. As you know, if you read this blog, we’ve just returned from a two week (Marinajo one week, Dave two weeks) visit there. We went at one of the hottest times of the year, to a place that was over 100 degrees (without air conditioning for the most part) and simply had one of the best times of our life. The community welcomed us with open arms, asked us hard questions, and we asked them hard questions. At all times, we felt like we were exactly where we were supposed to be. At the first Thursday evening Praise and Worship session my heart was absolutely broken with love for this place and for the people of Loma De Luz. I worked with the living and the dying, and in every way possible, submersed myself in the mission of Loma De Luz. I returned with only a deep sense of confirmation and a strong desire to return as soon as possible.
One friend (who serves the role of contrarian in my life often) says that we are simply “infatuated” with the place, and to some extent, that is true. However, I think that we understand that this life will be very difficult and that after infatuation ends, there is a deeper sense that this is what we are supposed to do that will abide and keep us there, when all else says “go”. Where, then, does that leave us? With a belief that we are both called to be children of God and we are called to go to Honduras to be missionaries at Loma De Luz. If it is indeed God’s calling, then it will come to pass and if it is not – then no amount of effort will get us there or keep us there. We look forward to proving out this call together with you as we walk forward. Thank you for taking the time to read this and may God add His wisdom to all that has been written. Amen.