The spring semester of 2016 had just started when I received a text from my discipler. I knew what it was about, so I didn’t answer. Several hours later, fearing that this text would turn into another phone call, I pulled out my phone and read the following:
“Hey Stone! Here is the link to apply for FOCUS! Be sure to do it soon so we can get you to a recruitment weekend!”
I rolled my eyes. It’s not that I had anything against FOCUS. I had been a student missionary in discipleship since the fall of my freshman year and had been leading a Bible study ever since. I had gone on several mission trips and had a strong presence among the FOCUS community at Ball State.
However, I wanted to be in charge of my own post-graduation plans, not change them based on what my discipler or anyone else wanted. It was only by his persistence that I finally agreed to fill out an application and go to a recruitment weekend, which was a ton of fun and very eye-opening. Still, I was still determined not to be a missionary.
For spring break, I was lucky enough to go on a mission trip to serve the poor in the Dominican Republic. The trip was life-changing for me in that, for the first time, I was able to witness the universal need for the gospel myself. Every human being —rich or poor, black or white, from all nations — needs to hear the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
After the trip and during my daylong layover in Atlanta, I received a call in which I was told that I was being offered a position with FOCUS as a missionary. When I heard the guy on the other end say he was going to offer me a position with FOCUS, it was like my annunciation moment. Here I was being given a chance to carry the word of God in a very special way, and I felt a deep stirring in my soul. Despite all of my determination towards the opposite, my heart of stone was turned soft. I said “yes” to serve Christ and His Church.
Your story may sound similar to mine.
You also might have some of the same objections to being a missionary as I did. I hope to clear up some of those now:
I already have plans after college. Being a missionary wouldn’t fit with them.
This is the probably the biggest excuse for refusing to consider being a missionary. It certainly was mine, anyway. But the Lord is a master at undoing plans. When I went to my recruitment weekend, I already had a job lined up immediately after I graduated. In the time between my recruitment weekend and receiving my offer from FOCUS, I signed a lease to “ensure” that I would stay in Indiana and be unable to do mission. So much for that idea.
When faced with the temptation to pursue our own passions over the will of God, we MUST remember as men that we are called to a lifestyle that is radically different from what the world expects of us. Christ has called each and every one of us to leave behind all that we own and go follow Him (Matt. 19:29). St. Paul says “woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). The bottom line: Sharing the gospel is not optional! Each of us has an obligation to share the joy of Christ and freely give what we have freely received. All our plans and ambitions can only find the fullness of their meaning when they are rooted in divine intimacy with Christ (Jn. 17:3).
If you are afraid that being a FOCUS missionary would make finding a job after college more difficult, nothing could be further from the truth! Being a part of FOCUS taught me not only how to plan events, fundraise and teach the gospel, but also how to fish, change my tire and other real-life skills. What business do you plan on entering where soccer is considered part of training and you’re taught how to swing dance?
FOCUS not only teaches you how to be a professional but also how to be an authentic Catholic gentleman. Instead of stunting my growth into adulthood, FOCUS put it on steroids in a way my time as an undergrad never did. What I’ve learned as a missionary will carry me through the professional world and into eternity.
I know that FOCUS missionaries have to fundraise their salary. There’s no way I could do that!
There are lots of different reasons people give for masking their fear of fundraising. Mine was that I was a convert to the Catholic faith and therefore had no Catholic family to support me. Aside from the fact that non-Catholics can share your joy of mission too, let me say that fundraising my salary has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. I love it. I find it thrilling. Rather than being seen as a dreadful chore like Navy Seal training or something, fundraising your salary is one of the most liberating means to make a living. It’s what Christ did (Lk. 8:3); it’s what He commanded His disciples to do (Matt. 10:9-11); and the Apostles did it, like, all the time (Acts 2:42-47, Rom. 15:24).
Keep in mind that FOCUS wants you to succeed as a missionary and will give you every skill you need to fundraise your salary. This is not a cross to bear. Rather, it is a bridge that invites others to share in the spiritual benefits of preaching the gospel (2 Cor. 9:6-15).
I won’t be any good at this. I’m not worthy.
None of us are. That’s the beauty of life as a missionary. While it’s true that you and I may differ on the talents that the Lord has given us, talents do not make the missionary. What does, you ask? Simple: God’s grace. Jesus does not need you. Rather, He has chosen you before the very foundation of the world to carry the banner of His mission (Eph. 1:4).
It’s because of this fact that you can be rest assured that He will provide for you. I’m a sinner, just like you, and I’ve begun to understand what it means to boast in my weakness. It is only by God’s grace that we’re able to do what we do. Therefore, take Christ’s advice, and “do not worry about what you will say…for the Spirit of the Father will speak within you” (Matt. 10:19-20).
Today, I want to sincerely invite you to consider becoming a FOCUS missionary. Saying “yes” to a recruitment weekend changed my life. If you are a man who is in discipleship, there is NO legitimate excuse not to give the Lord a weekend of discernment for the sake of His mission. He deserves it.
The world is in desperate need of good, holy men. We need to step it up, guys. I’ll be praying for you constantly, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at your own recruitment weekend.
Fall Recruitment Weekend Dates:
St. Paul, MN: October 21-23 (Application Deadline: October 7)
Philadelphia, PA: November 4-6 (Application Deadline: October 21)
Oklahoma City, OK: November 11-13 (Application Deadline: October 28)
Denver, CO: November 18-20 (Application Deadline: November 4)
Kansas City, MO: December 2-4 (Men Only, Application Deadline: November 18)
Learn more and apply here!