by M. David Sills
Sills clarifies the missionary call by discussing factors that make up the call.
Moody Publishers, 620 N. LaSalle Blvd, Chicago, IL 60610, 2008, 238 pages, $13.99.
—Reviewed by Brent Waldrep, missionary to Brazil, International Mission Board; doctoral candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
The Christian wrestling with the call to missions often experiences a crisis of uncertainty. Is God calling me to missions? How can I be sure? To which people group? With which sending agency? The questions come quickly; answers, unfortunately, sometimes come more slowly. Yet the answers are critical, because with them, potential missionaries reorder their lives. In The Missionary Call, David Sills guides Christians to ask the right questions about the missionary call and helps them think through the “comfort-zone-exploding ramifications of surrendering to that call.” Sills clarifies the missionary call by discussing factors that make up the call: the desire to meet cross-cultural needs, an understanding of Christ’s command to reach and teach the nations, a burden for the lost, spiritual gifting, blessing and commissioning of the local church, and a yearning to go. No single factor constitutes the call. Rather, the call consists of a combination of factors.
In his explanation, Sills moves from broad to more specific topics. First, he presents the concepts of missionary call and knowing God’s will. Next, he discusses issues of timing and what to do if a spouse does not have the call. He then tackles specific challenges such as getting to and staying on the field, while answering the most common questions on the minds of those discerning God’s will for their lives among the nations.
Three strengths of this work merit recognition. First, Sills does not reduce the missionary call to a formula. Instead, he states no two calls are the same, articulates the issues that must be considered, and encourages his readers to know God and allow him to lead. Second, Sills strikes an impressive balance between the biblical witness, historical precedent, and issues of practical importance. The Bible does not merely provide a basis for missions; rather, “the work of missions is the reason for the Bible.” The Bible’s overarching mission impetus, coupled with the lives of historical figures in missions, weigh in on the practical issues of the missionary call. Third, Sills addresses issues of timing and duration related to the missionary call. Does the missionary call last a lifetime? What about a missionary who stays on the field only a few years? These questions are especially relevant in today’s work environment, where fewer people remain with one organization or in one location throughout a career.
Sills brings clarity to a confusing topic. This clarity will equip readers to move forward with confidence as they work out the missionary call in their lives.
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