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The Heart of the Missionary
Stats: 11,484 words / Reading Time: 57.42 mins

Published: Tuesday 20th October 2020

The Heart of the Missionary is read 974 times on CentreNDL.org 974

The Heart of the Missionary

Examining Prophet Jonah as Case Study


Listen To Podcast: The Heart of The MISSIONARY: Jonah A Case Study

This evening we will be looking at The Heart of The Missionary. It is often said that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. So, the heart is so crucial, it is so important. And today we will be looking at a case study, and our case study today is the prophet Jonah. And so, we will be starting our observation and we will be concentrating on the book of Jonah. You can go there with me to the book of Jonah, we will go through almost all the chapters, but because of time I have picked certain reference points that we would be looking at.

 

So, we will start by observing Jonah 1:1-3. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so, he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.So, we are going to start our consideration from these three verses.

 

The Bible says; and now at this season, at this time, the word of the Lord came to Jonah, and the instruction was clear. God said; “arise go to Nineveh” so the location was specific. I am sure in the series of this mission month we have heard over and over again that mission does not originate from the missionary, missions originate from God. God is the author and the assigner of every mission assignment. So, God assigns the mission. And when God assigns the mission, it is always clear. There is clarity in missions. When God assigns a mission, it is always clear, no ambiguity.

 

We will see in verse 2 of this Jonah 1, that what God instructed Jonah to do was very clear. “Arise, go to Nineveh”, a specific place, and God said that great city. And what is your assignment when you get to Nineveh? Is it to party? Is it to feel good? No! it’s a great city but this is your mission. So, God called Jonah as a missionary, and God assigned him to Nineveh. And what was the mission? Go and cry against that city, because their wickedness has come up to Me. The assigner of the mission was God because we need to build this background because we will understand subsequently from Jonah’s action the deviation that happened on this mission. Remember we are looking at the heart of the missionary, prophet Jonah as a case study.

 

Let’s see how missions always starts with clarity, with a direction defined; and how there is always a deviation from it, and what causes the deviation. God said “arise, go to Nineveh, cry against it”, but in verse 3 the missionary has been assigned, the mission has been spelt out. But what did the missionary do? The Bible says in verse 3, “but Jonah arose.” What was the instruction? “Arise and go” So Jonah actually arose, but what did he do when he arose? It says Jonah arose to flee; he ran away from his mission. He created a mission for himself, and see the consequence of that; it says but Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

 

This is so instructive! The missionary cannot leave the mission, without leaving the assigner. The assigner of the mission was God. The mission was spelt out by God. Jonah was called upon by God and given a clear assignment. But the moment Jonah decided to leave his mission, he also left his assigner. So as missionaries, it is not enough to say, “although what God said I should do, I am not doing it but I am still in God”, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t be disobedient in a mission assignment and still claim that you are in the presence of the one that have assigned you. The Bible says “but Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”

 

So, we are seeing cause and effect. We are seeing mistake and consequence. Because when a mistake is made, it is only we human being that feel “it is just a minor error.” For every mistake there is a consequence. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree, even though God loved them, there was a consequence for that mistake. Even though Jonah was a prophet of God, there was a consequence for leaving the mission assignment that God gave him. He fled from the presence of God. So, you are somewhere and God said “at this time I should be in Kaduna but God have mercy on me even though I am in Abuja let your presence still be with me.” No!

 

God does not cohabit with disobedient children. Because disobedience has no link with God. Obedience is what keys you in with God. See what it says; “he fled from the presence of God, he went to Joppa and found a ship.” He found it himself. “Going to Tarshish so he paid the fair.”  He sponsored his own mission; his self-crafted mission was sponsored by him. And it says; “And he went down.” Any mission outside God is a journey down. A mission in God, no matter how difficult it might look to you, is a mission up. You will go up with God, but outside God you will go down. It said; “he went down into it to go with them to Tarshish” repeated again “from the presence of the Lord”

 

So, the farther he was going away in disobedience, the farther he was away from the Father. Any mission that takes you away from the place of obedience, takes you away from God. No matter how good it might look, no matter how good it seems, any mission outside the clear instruction and mandate of God is a journey away from God. I am sure when Judas Iscariot was going to betray Jesus, he felt he was doing a good thing. I am sure he said to himself “that all these while that Jesus is talking about dying, let me help him.” I am sure he will have a good intention for his disobedience. But it doesn’t work like that in the kingdom.

 

When you are given an assignment in mission, your loyalty is to stay on the mission. It is disloyal from you to God when you go outside the mission specification of your life. And that’s what Jonah did here. So, there is an instruction of mission given to him and there was a deviation. Now let us look at verse 4-10 and we are going to look at what happened to Jonah after this deviation.

 

“But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.”

 

When the heart of a missionary goes wrong, even though he is in a trouble, he will feel at peace. That was why God said when you hear that there is peace know that there is rumour of war. Jonah was asleep but there was trouble on the ship. Because his heart has gone far away from God. Now Jonah was on his own personal mission. So, he felt all is well. So usually a missionary that deviates from the mission of God, he feels at some point that all is well, when truly all is not well. He feels in his heart that things are at peace while there are storms, tempest around him. See what it says; So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

 

Now at this point they are quickening and bringing Jonah to remembrance. And what we are looking at today is a case study of Jonah, before we start blaming Jonah and we start castigating him. This is one thing that happens to many missionaries on their journey because every human being sent and deployed by God to the earth is a missionary. This is what happens most of the time in our life’s journey. When we have gone away from God, in God’s mercy, God brings up a situation that quickens our attention. For some people, it is like a family problem, suddenly things start to go wrong in the family, and they call you, “don’t you see that the family is about to drown, won’t you pray?” And suddenly you remember who God has called you.

 

For Jonah he was sleeping, he had gone away from the presence of God, he was now living his life, doing his own thing. See what the Bible introduced that place to be, it says; “but the Lord sent” sometimes when certain things happen in our lives, it is not the devil, it is God calling us to the consciousness of who we are. Jonah was about to go down, and if God allowed him to continue on that journey, he will go down forever. But in the mercy of God, He intercepted his journey and that’s what God is doing to some of us. Intercepting our life’s journey with challenges and tribulations that will wake us up to who we are.

 

So, what is that thing that God has sent that you think is the devil? What is that storm that has suddenly arose and you are sleeping, and God is saying “arise, wake up and see, smell the coffee things are not going the way they should because you are in this ship, because you are in this boat. Rise up to who you are. Come back to your mission assignment, come back to your purpose, come back to the path that leads to your purpose, you are going off course.”

 

The mercy of God intercepted Jonah and brought about his storm. So, what are you going through right now and you are telling yourself “the devil is fighting me?” Before you quickly judge that, before you come to that conclusion, is it not wise as a child of God to go back to your Father, and go back to the drawing board with Him, and ask Him; God at what point have I veered off the road, at what point have I gone off course, at what point have I gone into a ship that I am not supposed to board? And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So, they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.

 

One of the things I want us to realize about the story of this ship is that God gave the people in this ship some kind of spiritual discernment that made them understand that the events that is happening is not natural, it’s not usual, it’s not common. And they were able to discern that there is a cause for this trouble, what we are going through as a family, as a nation, as a people is not because God is not faithful, it is not because we are not supposed to embark on this journey, but somebody somewhere is not supposed to be on this ship. And God gave them that discernment in His mercy. And the Bible says; “and the lot fell on Jonah.”  There was accuracy in their discernment.

 

Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” See the questions they are asking Jonah, question of identity and purpose. Who are you? Where are you coming from? What is your occupation? And that is how in the ship of life, questions are being thrown at us as God’s missionaries on a daily basis. Who are you? Where did you come from? What is your occupation? Why are you in this ship? There are some people that are in a place right now and you know that’s not where God wants you to be, and they have been asking you these questions and you think it’s common or normal? No! Gods mercy is reaching out to you to quickly check; am I in the wrong ship?

 

So, he said to them; “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” At this point, Jonah knew who he was. He was not confused about who he was. At this point, there was a realization that dawned on Jonah. He said I am a Hebrew; I fear the Lord, I know Him, I am not supposed to find myself this situation. Now I know what has happened to me, I have gone away from the presence of God that has been preserving my glory and my strength. Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” So, Jonah realized his mistake, he realized his error.

 

As a missionary on the earth deployed and assigned by God, where are you right now? What is going on in your heart? Are you having a trouble obeying God and the things He is asking you to do? Have you decided to pay your fair to Tarshish and you have abandoned Nineveh? Because it is until you go back to Nineveh, that is when you can go back to the presence of God, that is when the glory of God will cover you like before, that’s where the presence of God will tabernacle with you like before. Where is your Nineveh? Where is the Tarshish you are right now? That’s the question the Lord is asking us. The mercy of God is reaching out, interrupting your life’s journey and you have been giving credit to the devil.

 

Have you stop to think; what is God doing with my life in this season? Why has this happened? Why am I 30 years old and I am not married? Why am I such in a financial difficulty? Why is my ministry not growing? What is God saying to me in the midst of this? That is how we should condition our heart as a missionary. We must understand the nature of our assignment on the earth. God deployed us as ambassadors, you cannot be an ambassador somewhere and forget your home country. You can’t say you are too busy to communicate with the headquarters, you will lose relevance.

 

Because when God assigns you a mission, God gives you authority. With that authority comes a corresponding responsibility. The moment you abandon your responsibility, you abandon your authority. So many of us will say Jesus said in my name you will cast out demons, in my name you will heal the sick. How comes those things are not happening to me? Go and check the place of your responsibility. Are you in the place of authority that gave you that responsibility? Because casting out demons is a responsibility, healing the sick is a responsibility. It comes when you have the authority. You can’t be responsible without authority, it is useless. Your authority is what backs that responsibility you are assigned to.

 

Jonah had an authority, what was the authority? “Go and cry out” that was his responsibility and God backed it with authority. And we will see it from the pages of the Scriptures that God gave him that authority. And we must understand this as missionaries. This is the heart of the matter. We must understand that for every mistake there is a consequence and the authority God gives us comes with a responsibility. I want us to see Jonah 3:1-10. Lets see what happened after this incidence, when the mercy of the Lord interrupted Jonah, Jonah responded to God and God in His mercy allowed a great fish to swallow him and he was in the mouth of that fish for three days, and God consecrated him afresh for the assignment and after three days and three nights he was let out of the mouth of the fish.

 

I want us to see verse 17 of chapter 1. “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Chapter 2 verse 10, “So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Chapter 3 verse 1, Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, (because God is a God of second chance) saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk.”

 

When Jonah was going to Tarshish he boarded a ship and he was on the sea, when he was going to enter Nineveh now, he was going to walk into it. When God gives you an instruction and you obey the first time, it is easy. When He gives you a second chance in His mercy, don’t think its going to be as easy as the first. When the early Apostles were going to be the Apostles of the Lamb, Jesus called them and they responded, and they followed and walked with Jesus for three and half years, after which He ascended into heaven, and He commissioned them. To walk with Jesus at that time was easy. But when apostle Paul was to become an apostle, the first thing was that he was blinded, he was without food for some days, he went to a city to be taught, he went to Arabia which one was easier? Which one was easier: The ones that Peter went through or the one Paul went through?

 

For Peter the first time Jesus called, they responded. When God gives you a message the first time, responding that first time is what makes it easy. It is an easier route. The second time is more difficult. Because the first time God trusted your heart completely, the second time God will be checking to trust your heart and that’s why its important when God calls to us and gives us a mission, let your obedience be swift. See what happened to Prophet Jonah here. It says; “Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk.” So, he was walking; no ship!

 

“Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” he cried out against the city, then see what happened in verse 5. “So, the people of Nineveh believed God” by the message of Jonah. So, God gave Jonah the authority to convert a whole city. The Bible says it was a great city. “So, the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” So, there was an authority that backed up that assignment. The fear of Jonah, we will see it later in chapter four, the fear of Jonah was not a real fear, he just did not condition his heart correctly for the mission. That is why prophet Jonah is an example for every missionary today.

 

Let’s not be quick to say prophet Jonah why did you run away. The question is: What are we doing? Are we following the mission as specified by God? Or we are boarding our own ship? God had already planned the salvation of Nineveh, and He was going to use a man called Jonah. See the lives that would have been lost, see the testimonies that would have been hindered, see the joy that would have been in the heart of the Lord that would have been denied. Because of one mans disobedience. When we are talking about missions, it is bigger than you. Gods mission is bigger than any man. When God ask you to speak, it is not about you. So, stop feeling embarrassed, and embarrassment is pride. And Jesus said those that are ashamed of My name, whether you call it shyness or whatever, those that are ashamed of me in this world I will be ashamed of them before my Father. Those that come out in my name and honour Me, I will honour them before My Father.

 

So, what is the embarrassment all about? We must understand this, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And the authority of God is backing us up. What was the assignment? See verse 5: It says; so the people of Nineveh believed God. That’s the mission. You are here so that people will believe God. So, if you are on a mission and people are not believing God, giving praise to God, you have not started. Are people believing God? Are you pointing the attention of your generation to God? Are you quickening the hearts of people to know who God is? That’s why you are here, that people may see God.

 

What’s the mission of Jonah? And that’s our mission, that Nineveh will see God. If they can’t see God then I am not working. I am not on the mission. When Jonah was on the boat of Tarshish who saw God? He was sleeping. We must understand that our heart must be for God. The heart of every missionary must be for God, you must pant after God, you must long after God, your desire and your daily pleasure must be to please God. That’s what we are called to do. So, the outcome of every mission is that people believe God.

 

I want us to see Jonah 4:1-9. See what happened, so that we will see the heart that Jonah had. Let me read chapter 3 verse 10 to give us a clear picture of what we are reading here. It says; “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” So, we now understand the background. Chapter 4 verse 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, one who relents from doing harm. Do we understand the heart of Jonah now? The reason Jonah fled to Tarshish was because he had experienced it before, the mercy of God.

 

I have cried over many cities, God this is how it always starts you will say you are angry; you will say these people are wicked and I will go and cry and when I finish crying, they will change, and when they change, you will relent. I want to be that prophet that when I say something it comes to pass. Why are you not making me that prophet? That was the heart of Jonah. The heart of a missionary should be the heart that sees the people of God the way God sees them. The minute you stop seeing the people of God the way God sees them, you will fall into the error of Jonah. When you want to perform missions, your heart must be humble, you must humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, Lord do as you please, let your will be done. That is the heart of a missionary.

 

Lord let your will be done, even though I don’t understand what you are doing, I align with it. That’s the heart of a missionary, a heart that aligns with what God is doing, in season and out of season. A heart that sees through the eyes of God. God is saying don’t look at this people for who they are, look at them for who they can become. That’s the heart of a missionary. Jonah was not seeing these people like a people that can repent. He did not see them as people that can believe God. And the question we should ask ourselves is: Are we not falling into the error of Jonah? Are we not having the heart of Jonah towards our generation? You are looking at them with dreadlock, tattoo and earrings; and you have condemned them to death and conclude they are already sold out to the devil; says who? God said His desire is that no man perish. So, what is your desire as a missionary? Do you just look at people and judge them and condemn them to eternal condemnation or you have the heart of God, that no man perishes? That’s the heart of a missionary. As a missionary, the desire of God must become your desire. What God is doing must be what you must want to do, what God is saying must be what you want to say. As a missionary, you must see the unity of the church, you must allow God to open your eyes to see who His people can become. This is not all of us, there are many that will still join us. But how are we going about it? Jesus said; see the harvest is plenty, if the harvest is not there Jesus won’t say it. That lady that wears short skirt and paint her nails with all kinds of colours, Jesus is looking at her as harvest, but you are looking at her differently. How are you a missionary carrying on the same mission with Christ?

 

Let this mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus, that’s how to work as a missionary. You must see the way Christ sees. Imagine if it was some of us when Mary ran to Jesus, she was caught in the very act of adultery. An average believer will say come and stone her, how can you do that! Stone her, this is sin. But what did Jesus do? He said if there is anyone of you that have never sinned, let him be the first to cast the stone. And He looked up, where are your accusers? She said they are gone, and He said neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. That’s the heart of Jesus and that’s the heart every missionary must have. We are not ready for the missions and the harvest of the world if we don’t have this heart.

 

Until this kind of heart comes to us, we are not ready. And see what happened in verse three, Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” That’s how angry Jonah was. Then the Lord said; “is it right for you to be angry?” And that’s the question that Jesus is asking some leaders in the church. Asking some of His children, is it right for you to be angry? Are you the one that died for them? Are you the one that went for them on the cross? Is it right for you to be angry?

 

“So, Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.” He was still expectant for destruction. “6 And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 Then God said to Jonah”

 

As God is saying to each and everyone of us as a missionary deployed by Him, ““Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” 10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh,” Should I not pity your generation, your nation, that lady, that man, that boy, that girl? in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

 

Should I not reach out to your generation in my mercy? Because some of us are praying, Jesus just come and take us, this world is too evil, let us leave all these bad people and go with you. That’s not the heart of a missionary. A missionary deployed by Christ have a heart for the harvest. Until we harvest every single one, until we see that the joy in the heart Christ and the heart of the Father is fulfilled; we are not leaving here. That’s the heart of a missionary, until we see that city, that nation saved; we are not leaving here. As missionaries of Christ, what is our heart? Are we looking at people that Jesus died for and condemning them to death or we are crying mercy over them? Do we have a heart for the people of God?

 

Because when you have a heart so strong, it will overcome your weakness, whether you give excuse of not being able to talk or being shy, and you see a sinner walking at the verge of sin and compassion will well up in your heart and you wont know when you will open your mouth and talk to the person. What happens to us is that we speak our convictions. And the question the Lord is asking the church is: What is our conviction? Have we grown so deep in it that we can voice it anywhere and to whoever? That’s the heart of a missionary, looking for the good and looking for God in every human being.

 

Because truly the devil didn’t create anyone God is the creator of every human being you see on the face of the earth. And if there is a deposit of God in every human being, that means the investment of God is that person. And what do you do as a child of God? You protect your Fathers investment.  The reason why I will continue to pray for that sinner is because my Fathers investment is on her, the reason why I will continue to trust the Lord that that brother will turn to the Lord is because the investment of my Father is upon him. That’s the heart of a missionary. 

 

I believe it is a good time to pray for a burning desire for nations and for the people of God, for His work as well. Let the strong convictions about God begin to burn within us that won’t allow us to keep quiet until every soul in the world hears about Jesus and surrender to Him.

 

Amen!


Thanks for the gift of your time, I am Lara Gboyega Adedeji!

Feel free to share your thoughts or testimony in the comment box below. I promise to respond to them as soon as possible!


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Word of Confession: (Optional)

Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I have sinned against the LORD God - in the rebellion of my heart, I have disappointed your expectations on my life. I have fallen from Your grace and followed wrong influences around me. Today, I retrace my steps back to you - and I ask that in your mercy you accept me as your son and give to me (again) the promise of the Father - the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, please, come and make my heart your home, and from there rule in the affairs of all men. In Jesus Name I have prayed.



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Missionary Heart Jonah Nineveh Sinners The WorldOctober2020


You will subdue kingdoms and wrought righteousness with nothing else except by faith. A missionary that finds it difficult to believe God will have a limited experience of what God can really do with his or her life.


Published: Apeh Francis Abah | Thursday 22nd October 2020


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You will subdue kingdoms and wrought righteousness with nothing else
  You will subdue kingdoms and wrought righteousness with nothing else
  You will subdue kingdoms and wrought righteousness with nothing else
  You will subdue kingdoms and wrought righteousness with nothing else
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About Lara Gboyega Adedeji

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I am a Woman of God's Purpose in Nigeria. I Coach Women in Leadership for true National Emancipation. I am a Spiritual Identity Mentor & ED, Flickers of Hope Foundation, Abuja-Nigeria!


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