The word “Missionary” is the English equivalent of “apostle.”
How so? Our term comes to us by way of the Latin verb mitto, and
the Latin is precisely the same as the New Testament Greek, apostello.
Both the Greek and the Latin words mean, “to send one off
on a mission.” Now, while our present-day missionary isn’t an
apostle in the sense that the Twelve were (Mark 3:14), they probably
ought to be classed with second tier apostles like Barnabas
(Acts 14:14). At any rate, present day missionaries should be
accorded the great respect that their calling and work deserves. I’m
afraid we don’t always think of them that way.
I have had missionaries tell me that they were sent “used tea
bags.” That is hard to fathom (could they have gotten wet in shipping?).
But I have little difficulty in believing that worn rugs, clothing
that one no longer would put on his back and other castoffs
have been sent their way. Perhaps, the only thing that has slowed
down this frightful trend is a rise in the cost of shipping! At any
rate, missionaries have not been honored and respected as they
should have been throughout the history of the church.
Once, in my first pastorate, when I didn’t know better, our
church entertained a missionary couple and their children. They
spoke, showed their slides (no power point in those days!) and prepared
to leave for the next station on their “deputation” journey.
When we handed the missionary the check for his services, he
actually cried. On inquiry, he revealed that he had been to several
churches prior to ours and had received nothing by way of remuneration.
He was running out of gas, out of money for food, and
But it is just that “deputation” practice that I want to address. It
is wrong – all wrong. To bring home missionaries on “furlough” –
supposedly a time for rest, refreshment and study, is in most cases
a deplorable joke. I have met missionaries so worn out from their
furloughs that they couldn’t wait to get back to the field...