Do You Want to Change the World?

During my earlier years with FOCUS, I recall having a conversation with a student who was trying to decide if he should become a FOCUS missionary.  The student looked to have the characteristics of a great missionary and truly liked FOCUS. He was, however, certain his call was to evangelize in the workforce.  Who was I to argue where he was being called?

Sometime later, I reconnected with the former student, finding his workplace apostolate to be non-existent and his interior life best described as “on life support.”

As we talked, I became painfully aware that I had failed to challenge him about his future in the ways he needed.

Who knows what would have happened had he become a missionary- — but regardless, that conversation made me realize two things:  first, the sober truth about how difficult “lifelong mission” really is; and second, that I needed to revisit why I believed in this particular mission on college campuses.

As you’re making final decisions for your next step in responding to Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, here are a few things I urge you to consider:

  1. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Luke 10:2).  The Lord desires a bountiful harvest.  Being the inventor of math, He did not call too few laborers. The laborers simply have not responded.  Are you earnestly listening to hear God’s true call? Do your reasons truly outweigh a serious consideration of this call of serving in this harvest?
  2. Paraphrasing Jim Jansen, a missionary with over 15 years of experience with FOCUS, evangelization after college is incredibly difficult with little to no support, training or accountability.  What downside is there in taking two years to train to be more effective in evangelization in preparation for the next 50 in your professional career?  What is that in light of eternity?
  3. Joseph, Vince, Melissa, Sarah Jane, Eddie, Katie, Matt, Tricia, Cait, Declan, Angel, Megan, Justin, Fed, Colleen, Paola, Chris, Jenna, Tori, Steve, Elizabeth, Sammy, Becca, Griffin, Betta and Nick are just a few of the students I’ve been grateful to know since before they became FOCUS missionaries.

    It’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to see the way these former students’ love of God has grown deeper in their time with FOCUS and how Jesus uses their unique gifts to build His kingdom through both this mission and the mission field they enter afterward.  Do not forget the way missionary life — with daily prayer, formation, leadership training and community —  transforms and inspires people, where else may you have an opportunity like this to make an investment in yourself, in your vocation and in other people?

To end, let’s remember the oft-quoted, but constantly gut-punching, words of our great missionary patron, St. Francis Xavier, in a letter to St. Ignatius:

“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!’ I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them. This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do?”

To apply to be a FOCUS missionary, click here!

Jared Smyth
Jared Smyth
Jared is the National Director of Church Strategy at Communio.

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