So, exactly what is a missionary?
Webster defines this word as, “One sent to propagate religion.” In search of a good synonym for propagate, I found what I think is the best synonym. I like the word multiply. I like it better than reproduce. I think that reproduce may infer making more of the same. People are individuals, not clones. That is why I like multiply better.
There are many different kinds of missionaries, but each has been sent to multiply something. Webster says religion, but I think that may be too big of a concept. If you are a Christian missionary, are you multiplying Christianity as your denomination? Are you multiplying churches, as a church planter? Are you multiplying children’s ministries or youth ministries? Are you ministering to the elderly evangelically or humanitarianly? Exactly what is it that you are multiplying?
During the past six years, I have met a number of missionaries in the field. Our discussions were most interesting, revealing so much more about the personality and lifestyle of a missionary. And it seemed that each missionary was a bit different. Most were connected with a missionary organization, but there are some like me, who are independent of a major organization.
The definition begins by saying that a person is sent. I believe that a true missionary is first called. Being a missionary is not a job. Although many fill out an application and are accepted, in truth, it is not a job. If God has not called you to this life of selflessness, one will not find fulfillment, at least not as I define fulfillment.
With all of this in mind, I would like to redefine missionary. In my experience, a missionary is one who is called by God, sent by a church, organization, or God Himself, to multiply His love. Sometimes we can become distracted by life, but multiplying His love is the true calling of a missionary. I have learned this through my experiences. I have seen this, or recognized where it was missing. But most of all, I have felt the impact of His love as I move forward in His calling.