Kirk Talley led off an article in “The Christian Worker” with this paragraph:
A faithful missionary was asked, “What pay do you receive for the hardships you undergo and the sacrifices you make, living and working among these people?” The missionary took from his pocket a letter, worn from much handling, and read two sentences from it, written by a Chinese student, “But for you, I would not have known Jesus Christ, our Savior. Every morning I kneel before God, and think of you, thank God for you, and pray for you!” “That,” said the missionary, “is my pay.”/1
Indeed, so. The satisfaction of this missionary is not a justification for churches to pay missionaries miserly. Nor is it a substitute for providing adequately for those who preach the gospel. “… the Lord Jesus commanded that the men who are proclaiming the Good News should be able to make a living from proclaiming it” (1 Corinthians 9:14 PEB). (This commandment must be one of the greatest shames of the church today. Elders, preachers and missionaries are often treated shabbily by congregations.)
Having said that, faithful missionaries (must be a reason the author above inserted “faithful”) will at times make sacrifices in order to fulfill the mandate they and all saints have received. All “faithful” saints make sacrifices for this “pay” of knowing that people have come to salvation because they were in the right place at the right time. Not just missionaries.
We have idealized the role of the missionaries. The story above presupposes that a missionary makes sacrifices that others do not. If the entire church is not making sacrifices to save souls, perhaps that explains Jeremy Barrier’s unanswered question May 2009 in a missions forum in Florence, Ala., as to why we have people we call missionaries when there are no such people in the New Testament. It is because we do not have a missionary church, only some missionary people.
There is but one goal, to glorify God through his praise being sung by more and more people as they come to faith in Christ. Nothing, no financial reward, no honorary degrees, no praises of men, can ever substitute that wonder of participating in the work of God to save others, that joy of satisfaction in being used by the Lord for eternal results.
1/ Kirk Talley, “The Elder and His Wife,” “The Christian Worker” (May 2009): 1.