Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Commitment in missions

I have a friend who says that he has “tickability”. I’m not sure whether non-Africans have experience with ticks. (Perhaps someone can tell me whether ticks are known in the northern hemisphere with its extremely cold winters.) In any case, a tick is a small insect which bites onto an animal (or a human) and sucks out blood and it really takes some effort to get them off the animals, at the risk of breaking of the ticks head and it causing further infections. My friend claims that he has “tickability”. Once he’s committed himself to something, he won’t let go – no matter what!
I’ve just returned from Dwaleni where a group of people from a congregation in South Africa will be busy with a short-term outreach until 3 April. I know the youth pastor of this congregation very well and she has been looking forward to this outreach for many months. What was extremely disappointing to her was, once everything had been finalised and quite a number of school kids had committed themselves to come for the outreach, to find that one by one the children cancelled their plans. Eventually the team turned up today with four young people (three more will be joining them on Friday.)
I won’t say that this lack of commitment does not disappointment me anymore. In fact, it does. I’m probably just getting a bit immune against it, because it happens so often. The problem does not lie with the children. One could probably say that the problem lies with the parents who should tell their children that you should not make a commitment unless if you intend to follow through with it. But the problem lies even deeper than this. Very few churches seem to have the ability to make a commitment towards mission. This is one of the most-heard arguments used when discussing involvement in mission: “We don’t want to commit ourselves towards supporting this project!” Why not? Why can’t we commit ourselves for a mission project? What are we afraid of? Are we afraid that people will become dependent upon us? Or are we afraid that we will become tired of doing good?
I was thinking today that I have had pastors arranging with me to bring a group from their congregation to Swaziland for a short-term outreach and then, as the days come closer and I don’t hear anything from them, I eventually have to call to confirm whether they are still coming, only to find out that the outreach had been cancelled and the pastor did not even take the trouble to pick up a phone to let me know. This, I would describe as a lack of “tickability”.
I’m busy working through the book of Acts together with a group of people and Paul’s commitment, his “tickability”, is probably one of the greatest characteristics in the life of this missionary. I’ve just read today that the number of missionaries in the world has increased significantly over the past few years. This is good news. From my side I hope that these missionaries possess a good douse of “tickability” and that those congregations who have sent them and who have committed to support them, pray for them, visit them also have enough “tickability” to continue with this. Mission and commitment go hand-in-hand. This is true for the missionary as well as those who support and encourage him/her.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - Posted by | Church, Dependency, Disappointments, Mission, Partnership, Prayer, Short-term outreaches, Sustainability, Swaziland, Theology


  1. Arnau, as I have been preparing to go into mission work this fall with my family, I have been studying Hebrews, focusing on chapters 10-12. You’re post reminds me of 10:36-39 – “For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For ‘Yet a little while and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my sould has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
    Tickability in scripture!

    Comment by Cindy | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. Cindy, thanks for your comment. Where are you intending to go into mission work?

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. Arnau,

    Tickability! Great term. We have ticks during the non-Winter months in North Carolina and Virginia in the US. I don’t know how far North one has to go to escape the tick, though.

    My wife’s church in Kazakhstan doesn’t seem to have this problem with commitment. Perhaps its because they are first generation Christians and they have great zeal and passion for the gospel as a result. (I truly believe that one the greatest things the Western church can learn from “younger” churches is passion and zeal for the gospel). This passion and zeal has sustained my wife’s church through persecution and growth. All the while, the church’s missionary vision has grown and they are already sending missionaries, not only to surrounding villages and across their own county, but into neighboring countries. Oh that we could taste the gospel again as if it were new to us!


    Comment by wlh | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. We’ll be in the Horn of Africa area beginning in October. I really enjoy your blog and have been reading it for awhile now. I did have one going myself, which you visited a time or two, but I abandoned it because our organization asked us not to be so obvious about our mission for the sake of security. But I learn a lot from your blog – thanks for writing it.

    Comment by Cindy | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Reply

  5. Wes, thanks for helping me out about the issue of ticks. Oh boy, I just connect so strongly to what you say about young churches and their zeal for serving the Lord. God willing, I’ll be visiting Russia again within a few weeks and this is one of the greatest experiences when going there, to see the young Christians eager to work for God.

    Cindy, thanks for your kind words. May God enable and protect you in the work that you are going to do. And may He grant you the gift of “tickability” and lots of friends and supporters with the same gift 😉

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Reply

  6. Our Church is sending out a new team to facilitate and expansion of a fairly new work. One of the team members is my new and good friend. So I have been praying, planning, preparing to be the “tickable” friend that sends. I, personally, have lots of trouble with “follow through” and “finishing well” (some would say “finishing anything”). It is an easy place for our Adversary to attack. The fact that he is so successful is my shame. Knowing that this is one of my big weaknesses means that I will have to work even harder to keep myself aware of where my battles are.

    So, I wonder if this strategy of the enemy is just part of the spirit of the age. And since we are not (as a world wide community of believers) winning in this one area, perhaps it is an indication of a great spiritual blindness. In the past, men of great passion have led us into a new understanding of how to defeat our various blindnesses (Peter and Paul in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles; the Reformers of 400 years ago bringing the word of God back to the people; A great cloud of Missionary witnesses and innovators in the last 3 centuries).

    To whom can we point, today, that is leading the charge to stir us up to missionary zeal, “tickability,” and daring great things for God?

    Comment by CGross | Friday, March 28, 2008 | Reply

  7. Some great thoughts there! Yes, I can see that lack of commitment is quite a strong weapon in the hands of Satan. Part of the problem also lies in the fact that we get bored easily and that we are always trying out new things, which in itself is not so bad, as long as we do not neglect the important things we had committed ourselves to before.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Reply

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