Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about 
overseas mission

The Bible teaching about overseas missions is peppered with drama, determination, and personal sacrifice. The divine process has been unfolding for around 2,000 years. The results are spectacular. 

From a leadership team headed by Jesus Christ with 12 disciples, the movement has mushroomed to two billion souls around the globe. The core book, the Bible is obtainable either wholly or partially in 2,426 languages representing 95% of the world’s population. 

Before you rush out the door and sign up somewhere, there is a hard side to overseas missions. It is expensive, families are separated, strange hardships are endured – and the blood of Christian missionaries flows freely over the pages of history. 

So...hop on the missionary shuttle, and let me take you for a short whirlwind tour of the world of foreign Christian missions. Let’s see what it is, its motivation, and proven methods.

Overseas Missions: What is It?

A simple definition is that missionaries are people sent out to evangelize and do religious work among others in a foreign land. 

For years a general distinction has existed between “home” and “foreign” missions. Home missions are confined to the geographical borders of one’s own country. Foreign missions refer to individuals, groups, or couples being sent across national boundaries to another country, taking up residence, and seeking converts to Christianity. 

Globalization and the idea of America as a melting pot of cultures has somewhat blurred the lines between home and foreign missions. However, in the real world radical cultural distinctions still exist. Believe it or not, outside of America, much of the world thinks a “Super bowl” is a plate with an extra helping of rice piled on!

Overseas Missions: Its' Motivation

Missions is the pulsating heartthrob of Christianity. Strangely, some complain about how wrong Christians are because we “proselytize” others to Christ. However, in the secular world proselytizing is called marketing and recruiting, and it is ok. Is there a double standard?

For example, if a university recruits students and takes their money, it is fine. But, if Christians recruit converts to Jesus Christ who alone can save them from their sin and give them eternal life - then it is bad. Humm.

So…why do it? Why should you or I make the outrageous decisions to uproot our family and move to another country to win others to Christ? Simple. I’ll show you. 

Overseas Missions: What is It?

A simple definition is that missionaries are people sent out to evangelize and do religious work among others in a foreign land. 

For years a general distinction has existed between “home” and “foreign” missions. Home missions are confined to the geographical borders of one’s own country. Foreign missions refer to individuals, groups, or couples being sent across national boundaries to another country, taking up residence, and seeking converts to Christianity. 

Globalization and the idea of America as a melting pot of cultures has somewhat blurred the lines between home and foreign missions. However, in the real world radical cultural distinctions still exist. Believe it or not, outside of America, much of the world thinks a “Super bowl” is a plate with an extra helping of rice piled on!

Overseas Missions: Its' Motivation

Missions is the pulsating heartthrob of Christianity. Strangely, some complain about how wrong Christians are because we “proselytize” others to Christ. However, in the secular world proselytizing is called marketing and recruiting, and it is ok. Is there a double standard?

For example, if a university recruits students and takes their money, it is fine. But, if Christians recruit converts to Jesus Christ who alone can save them from their sin and give them eternal life - then it is bad. Humm.

So…why do it? Why should you or I make the outrageous decisions to uproot our family and move to another country to win others to Christ? Simple. I’ll show you. 

Jesus Christ: the First Overseas Missionary

Jesus set the example. The Bible teaching about overseas missions points out that Jesus “descended from heaven” so as to “seek and to save that which was lost (John 3:13; Luke 19:10). 

Jesus gave the orders. Following the assemblage of His leadership team, Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:16). He made it clearer when He commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). This is the Great Commission.

His disciples understood the imperative nature of Jesus’ command as seen in Peter’s words, “And He ordered us to preach to the people” (Acts 10:42a).

Although there may be many motives for foreign Christian missions, the basic one is obedience. Maybe you and I are not called by God to move to another country, but we are obligated to support the cause of foreign missions with whatever recourses and opportunities God grants us.

Overseas Missions: Its' Methods

The Bible teaching about overseas missions unveils many methods of missionary work. Missionary history has also disclosed successful methods. Here are some to give you ideas of how to do missions. 

The Bible teaching about overseas missions unveils many methods of missionary work. Missionary history has also disclosed successful methods. Here are some to give you ideas of how to do missions. 

Bible Distribution

This is probably the most basic method of overseas missions. Wycliffe Bible Translators and Gideon’s International and various Bible societies and publishers distribute over 100 million copies every year. 

Of course, the starting place is to learn and translate the Bible into a target foreign language. And, learning the new language and culture is the first hurdle missionaries must overcome. 

Church Planting

Paul planted local churches during his missionary journeys. The record reveals, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are…And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (Acts 15:36, 41).

Public Evangelism

Paul engaged in this method as seen by his efforts in Athens. The writer records, “So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present” (Acts 17:17).

Schools

The Bible teaching about overseas missions indicates schools were used. We read that Paul, “withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:9b, 10). 

Paul started a two year Bible college. Through the years missionaries have formed schools from kinder garden through university and seminary level. 

Medical

All humanitarian work could be stuffed under this category. Paul gives an example, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia so do you also” (1 Corinthians 16:1). 

Paul was referring to the plight of Christians back in Jerusalem who were suffering under persecution or famine. He was collecting money for their welfare.

Christians have built countless hospitals around the world. You probably have something like a “St. Luke's,” or St. Joseph's” hospital in your town. 

Others

Other means used in overseas missions include radio, correspondence courses, TV, films, internet, small Bible studies, and so called “tent making” ministries. This latter method is where missionaries take secular jobs (or become students) in foreign countries, and evangelize in ways acceptable or tolerated by the host country. 

Strategies must be a carefully calibrated combination of courage, boldness, obedience and trust in God, wisdom, and effectiveness. 

Do you want to be a missionary? Then, be sure of God’s calling, count the cost, get the educational, cultural, and financial preparation – and all the best to you. 

With this, Esmie and I hope to communicate that foreign Christian missions is at the very heart of God. God bless.

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

1. What is your opinion about overseas missions?

2. What qualities do you think missionaries need to succeed?

3. What motive for foreign Christian missions does Paul speak of in 1 Corinthians 9:16, 17?

4. Should Christians do missions in countries that forbid Christian missionary work (cf. Acts 4:18-20; 5:29)? Explain your position.

5. According to Jesus, what is the core objective of missionary work (Matthew 28:19)? What do you think He meant?

6. In what ways can you support the foreign Christian mission cause?

7. Describe the overseas mission’s strategy and principles Paul used in Acts 16:11-40.

8. What do you think are some hardships foreign missionaries undergo?

9. What kind of preparation do you think missionaries should have? Explain.

10. What stood out to you the most in this study?

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