And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. ~ Matthew 24:14
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the divine impetus that drives missionary enterprise. Other motivations will ebb and flow, but a biblical, Spirit wrought understanding of the redemptive work of Christ is the most proven dynamic that propels and sustains missional endeavor.
Many have heard the story of the Moravian missionaries, John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman, who willingly submitted themselves to imprisonment to preach the gospel to African slaves that were held captive on the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix by a British slave owner who was an atheist. Christians who are acquainted with the historical narrative are normally either enamored by the men’s bravery, inspired by their personal sacrifice, or moved by their departing benediction, “May the Lamb receive the reward for His sufferings”, but the part of the account that is often overlooked is their intensive prayerful meditation on the atonement of Jesus Christ that precipitated their going.
What believers often fail to see is that what most constrained these pilgrims to “let goods and kindred go” was the infinite beauty and intrinsic worth of the sufferings of the Son of God.
You see, it was not the need to reach the community of spiritually impoverished slaves that drove and sustained them, but the glorious sufferings of the dying Lamb. Their conclusion was if this infinitely worthy Savior laid down His life for sinners, then the souls of men were worth reaching.
Nothing fuels and preserves a believer’s passion for missionary initiative more than the propitiatory work of Christ. While a glimpse of Hell’s eternal torments may “jump start” an indifferent believer to the global cry of the spiritually lost, the redemptive beauties of Christ and Him crucified has far more impassioning grace to preserve missionary zeal.