Elisabeth Elliot on the word “missionary”

The word “missionary” may call to mind preaching, teaching, church-building (and even this often means merely a physical plant, rather than a spiritual building), medical work, baptizing, catachizing, social improvement–almost any form of philanthropy. I found myself quite unable to undertake any one of these activities. A strange position for one who was called a missionary. I began to search my Guidebook to learn whether my definition had been an accurate one.

The word “missionary” does not occur in the Bible. But the word “witness” does. I found many passages indicating that I was supposed to be a witness. One in particular arrested me. It stated that to be a witness to God is, above all, to know, believe, and understand Him (Is 43:10). All that He asks us to do is but means to this end. He will go to any lengths to teach us, and His manipulation of the movements of men–Aucas, missionaries, whomever–is never accidental. Those movements may be incidental to the one thing toward which He goads us: the recognition of Christ.

Isa 43:10  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 

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