The Fine Line Between a Christian and a Missionary

Fine Line

There is a fine line between being a Christian and being a Missionary!

Before explaining what I mean, let me ask you a question. What is a missionary? If you could define the word “missionary” in one paragraph, what would you say a missionary is? Think realistically. Who do we call a missionary?

My guess would be that you defined it as someone who takes the the message of Jesus to other people. Some will define it by distance, while others will say anyone who takes the message of the Gospel to another person is a missionary. Some would say that the word missionary is not found in the Bible. They may say it is the modern day evangelist from the Bible. A few may define it as a modern day apostle.

My response would be, YES! Though there may be some differences in the details of the definition, the basic idea is the same. A missionary is one who takes the Gospel of Jesus to people who need to hear it. Most of the time we consider a missionary to be one who leaves his home and takes the message to a foreign land or to a specific group of people.

With this in mind, we can move on to asking, “What is a Christian?” This is where I believe the biggest mistake is! Our definition of a missionary is normally quite accurate and fairly close to the expected. However, the modern day definition of a Christian can vary to all extremes. So how would you define a Christian. Take a moment and think it through. Maybe we should specify that we are speaking of the same kind of person as Luke mentioned in Acts 11:26 when he says, “…the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” We are speaking of disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the day and age in which we live, people have become very informed. We have too much information! The internet provides for us information far beyond our local researching capabilities. Many times we quickly type in the desired query and believe what we find stated on the first few pages. We rarely go as far as verifying the details. We may compare with another website to see if someone else is saying the same thing, but our research though much more speedy can often be inaccurate.

I am afraid we have pulled this same stunt in our own personal beliefs. Our beliefs are based on what others are saying or on what is popular, but they are many times not based on the Bible. We need to check out the facts and compare our beliefs to the Bible. Many times we define our beliefs in a way that justifies our weaknesses.

Let us return to the second question and rephrase it. What is the Bible definition for a Christian? Have you ever looked it up? According to the verse given above a Christian is clearly a disciple. Then, what is a disciple of Jesus Christ?

When we study the Bible we will find that there is a fine line between what we call a missionary and what we call a Christian or disciple. There is very little difference. According to some definitions the only difference may be a geographical location.

A quick glance at passages that use the word “disciple” will give you three simple answers as to what a disciple is.

  1. A disciple is one who follows His master
  2. A disciple is one who listens to the master
  3. A disciple is one who obeys the voice of the master

Luke 14 explains to us some qualifications for a disciple. Read the passage and you will find out a few more things about a disciple.

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Here are a few simple observations.

  1. A disciple does not live for his own pleasure
  2. A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ
  3. A disciple must be salt – “Ye are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)

Through various passages we find that a disciple is salt and light in this world. Christ intended for the disciples to spread the news. The command is given time and time again to the disciples. “Go! Preach! Teach!”

If a missionary is one who simply tries to fulfill the Great Commission, then is that not the same as being a disciple? Should not every disciple be participating and engaged in the Great Commission?

Why do I make this observation? This observation is the result of looking around and wondering where the laborers are. How many people do you know that say they are Christians? How many of them are actively playing the role of a disciple?

Perhaps we should not ask about those around us. We should simply look at our own lives a take the test for ourselves. Am I a Christian?

Have you tried to distance these two terms to justify your own actions? Have you idolized missionaries as heroes when they are simply obeying what Christ commanded all of His followers to do? Please do not make this fine line any thicker than it needs to be! Jesus wants every believer to be a laborer!

Romans 13:11-12 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Easter and Other Services in March

Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks at church. We have been trying to paint the walls around the area where we meet. Due to rain, schedules, and many other variables, we have not quite finished. We were able to change the color by Easter making things a little nicer for the special day.

Missions – An Unromantic Task of Obedience

Recently I was talking with a fellow worker about missions and God’s work around the world. It seems we have romanticized missions to make it attractive and appealing to the young and the energetic. Though we can try to attract young people to missions, there is a very unromantic part of missions which we do not talk about much. So, if you allow me to deromanticize missions for a moment, I would like to show you a bit of the reality of missions.

The reality of missions is that missionaries have many mundane tasks and responsibilities. Though we live in a foreign country, eat foreign foods, and buy foreign products, we still live, eat, buy, sell, repair, etc.

Recently my shoe repair abilities have become the joke at church. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes I have glued over the past four years here in Rondônia. Any shoes that have been stored for a while without use can easily come unglued because of the heat. We have saved hundreds of dollars by gluing those shoes back together, but it takes time and effort.

Last week I asked myself, “what have I done all week?” Though I know I had done some planning, praying, and preparing for certain tasks, there was nothing to show for it. My week seemed very dull and uninteresting. It must have been dull because it is hard to remember!

As missionaries, we write letters to our churches about the “interesting” things that happen. However, most of our lives are filled with routine tasks. It is not every day that I am out with wild Indians, canoeing down the river, fighting off the alligators! We only do those things on special occasions. Normally, we take care of things like mowing the grass, writing emails, paying bills, fixing the car, making visits, going to church, picking people up for church, cleaning, cooking, and many other routine events. In other words, most of our lives are “nothing to write home about”. Yet, we press on knowing that God is using us in our routine tasks.

Our unromantic missionary lives have us doing what many do in the US every week. Recently I spent several days trying to transfer the tags on my car to the city we moved to last year. I had to run to the bank several times, take the car to the DOT several times and have the car inspected. Though a bit more bureaucratic than in the US, it was nothing to write home about.

Politics play their role on the foreign field just as they do in the US. News of the presidential elections in the US has kept us just as interested as the former president being arrested here in Brazil. Both are playing a role in the value of the dollar. The dollar dropped almost forty cents due to the prospect of a new government here in Brazil. You may ask what all of this has to do with missions. It has everything to do with missions. We live in Brazil, so every day we use the Brazilian currency which we receive when we exchange dollars. We use this currency to pay church bills, support missionaries, and put gas in our car to pick people up for church.

Once in a while we have a great opportunity that comes with a unique story. However, if we think missions is all about the unique stories and experiences we can become bored with our lives. We may even think that God is not using us because our lives do not match up to Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, or many of the other missionaries whose biographies we have read and who are now our heroes.

The truth is that God is interested in faithful men. So many churches are hurting for help. There are dozens of cities around us that are calling for laborers. The closest church to them that preaches the Gospel may be a hundred miles away or much more than that. The task is great. It requires faithful men to stay the test of time and be an example of the believer to those around them.

So many times people are looking for a path to fame. Missions is not a path to fame! Missions is not a road to success! Missions is simply a matter of obedience. It is taking the Gospel to those around you.

Globalization has made the task of becoming a missionary a bit easier. Yet, the task seems much harder because we are challenged with new thoughts and philosophies that threaten Christianity. We are challenged by materialism, gadgets, and entertainment. We are taught that we can be anything we want to be in this world. If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor. If you want to be a musician, you can be a musician. However, that thought is faulty when it comes to missions. The idea has come across that we can be William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Bruce Olson, Jonathan Goforth, David Brainerd, or even like Paul. Yet, the truth is that we need only to be what God wants us to be. We need to be faithful! We need to be obedient!

Now, returning to the original thought, missions is not always the romantic idea we may read about in the biographies. Missions is a simple obedience to the Great Commission! Prepare your Sword, put on your shield of faith, wear your work gloves, put on those steel toe boots, find your trowel, and mix up the mortar! Nehemiah 4:18 says, “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.” We should never stop working while we wait for God to give us “something to write home about.”

I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

February 2016 – Prayer Letter

February 2016
Prayer Letter – January 2016

E-mail sent with Prayer Letter

New Pictures

Here are four ways to keep up with the Tylers…

1. Read this blog and leave a comment – You may also sign up for the RSS feed

2. Facebook – Add me as a friend HERE

3. Prayer Letters – Sign up to receive our prayer letter on the column to the right.

4. E-mail – Write to us HERE

Updated Pages

I have recently updated a few pages on our website to include the most current information. We hope to keep you as up-to-date as possible. Of course, we have other things to do than just update you on what we are doing, so occasionally we get behind. If you have not been on our website in a while, take a look around. Here are a few of the pages that have been updated.

Ministry Websites


Please continue to pray for the work here in the city of Vilhena. Pray that souls would come to know Christ as their Savior and others would grow in the Lord. God is working in hearts and we are praying that His will be done in all of our lives.

A Church Facebook Page

Patience and prayer are always a good thing. Sometimes we might get a bit discouraged when we do not see the fruit of our labors. This weekend I was reminded that the Lord is working in hearts and drawing people to Himself. What we do for the cause of Christ is a part of His plan and the Lord uses those opportunities as He wishes.

Even before we moved to Vilhena we were praying that our paths would be directed to meet the right people at the right time. A few weeks after being here I started a Facebook page for the church. We have posted some devotional type materials on there as well as pictures of some of the events at church. We advertised just a bit in the community as well.

Facebook Page

All the work and hours invested in the site have already paid off. We still look forward to what the Lord will do with it in the future.

About a week ago, we received a message from a young man who was looking for a job. He talked about coming to church, but did not know his way around the city. We communicated with him through messages several different times through the week. On Saturday we were able to make a visit with him. Sunday evening he came to church! He is very excited about participating in the church. We look forward to helping him settle the matter of his salvation and baptism as we have more opportunities to spend time with him.

Though I know we are just beginning to work with this young man, it is amazing to see God’s hand at work. I believe that God has been working in his family’s life for many years in order to bring him to our church. You may think that is a little far fetched, but let me explain.

  • His grandparents moved to Brazil from Japan as children in the mid 1900s.
  • Brazil is a very evangelical country. Some areas have much more of a Gospel presence than others.
  • On his mother’s side of the family, his aunts and uncles all moved to Rondônia where we now live.
  • He along with his immediate family lived about 1,250 miles south of Rondônia.
  • Through some strange circumstances including weird dreams, he was directed to an evangelical church.
  • Persecution from his Buddhist family made it very difficult for him to continue following the Lord and going to church.
  • Due to his “conversion”, they had him put in a mental hospital.
  • After a few years under this persecution, he decided to move up north to Rondônia to get away from it.
  • He moved to Vilhena to live with an aunt and help take care of his family in the area.
  • He was attending a Baptist church down south, so he searched for a Baptist church here in Vilhena. Our church was the first to show up in his search.

Now, that is just a quick version with the basic points that connected us. We could go on and explain how that God put in our heart to reach the world through Brazil. We have websites with Gospel materials in Japanese, yet God brought his family to Brazil where they learned the Portuguese language, then allowed him to come in contact with some Christians and begin seeking after Christ. Through persecution he is placed right here in our city and our church is the first he comes across.

I believe this is God’s work. He may be altering plans for hundreds of years in order for you to be in a specific place at a specific time. What an amazing God we serve! Just like he used Cesar Augustus to make a decree that every person in the world should be taxed so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, He also does the very same thing millions of times all over this world so that people can hear His Word. Open your eyes and see what God is doing!

Prayer Letter November – December 2015

Prayer Letter – November / December 2015

E-mail sent with Prayer Letter

New Pictures

Here are four ways to keep up with the Tylers…

1. Read this blog and leave a comment – You may also sign up for the RSS feed

2. Facebook – Add me as a friend HERE

3. Prayer Letters – Sign up to receive our prayer letter on the column to the right.

4. E-mail – Write to us HERE

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