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Not Just a Number

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

I had some time to kill recently before an evening service. I skimmed through a mission agency’s magazine that was lying on a table near our missions display. There was a brief article on deputation with the following statistics:

  • 1 out of 100 men who surrender to missions ever makes it to the field

  • In setting up meetings a missionary will make around 4,000 phone calls

  • Out of those 4,000 phone calls he may talk to 1,000 pastors

  • Out of those 1,000 pastors, he may set up 300 meetings

  • Out of those 300 meetings, he may get 125 supporting churches

  • Out of these churches he will have 3 to 5 very likely drop his support before he finishes deputation

  • Of churches that “take him on right there in the service” only 50% will actually follow through with support

  • He will travel approximately 100,000 miles to get to his meetings

  • The average amount of time on deputation for missionaries is 3 to 4 years

My heart sank as I read these statistics. I am saddened when I hear that missionaries come off the field or quit before they ever make it to the field because of reasons other than the Lord’s leading. Each number in the statistics above represents a life. I realize this includes those who only want to mooch off the sacrificial giving of others as well as those who have mistaken zeal to serve the Lord for the leading of the Spirit, but it also includes those who have a genuine call of God and have set aside their “normal” life in the pursuit of this call.

I believe the main reason a missionary quits is discouragement. The source of discouragement comes packaged in different forms and is often an aggregate of reasons rather than a single thing. These would include sickness, expenses, road weariness, lack of privacy, instability of life on the road, its affect on the family (especially kids), unfulfilled promises from churches, and many more. These problems are compounded and can become increasingly stressful as the time of deputation is protracted.

I’m certainly not an expert on deputation nor am I immune to discouragement. Although we have experienced some hardships on deputation the biggest source of disappointment for me personally has been the promise of support from churches that we have yet to receive. In spite of this hope deferred, we will not quit. We encourage ourselves in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6). He is worthy and His will our desire, and His will is that we might reach Italian souls for Christ.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12
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