By Roberto Bacalski, Program and Development Coordinator
"Although the obligation of spreading the faith falls individually on every disciple of Christ, still the Lord Christ has always called from the number of is disciples...that he might send them to preach to the nations." ~Ad Gentes, 23 (Read full document here)
What makes a missionary? The Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, commonly known as Ad Gentes, tells us that evangelization is the duty of all the baptized but that there are some whom God calls out for a special purpose. To evangelize in an extraordinary way. We are all missionary by nature, but some are Missionary (capital M) by vocation as well. What sets these people apart?
Ad Gentes describes some of the qualities that are not just common to those called to go out on mission, but are required. Evangelizing to the uninitiated can be difficult at best and life-threatening at worst. The Gospel message is what is ultimately important, but the messenger must have and do what it takes to ensure that the message is credibly received. One of those qualities is commitment. Section 24 of Ad Gentes tells us that the Missionary "enters upon the life and mission of him 'who emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave' (Phil. 2:7) Therefore, he must be prepared to remain faithful to his vocation for life". It is worth noting that Ad Gentes was promulgated years before the concept of short-term mission trips became fashionable, however the idea of a lifetime commitment is not altogether outdated. While many of today's missionaries think they are committing to only a week or two or service, they are demonstrating their beliefs in an indelible way. In other words, they can't "undo" their mission trip. There will always be the memory of that experience and, very likely, a public record (at the port of entry of the destination country) of their trip available for generations to view.
Before you go on your short-term mission trip, ask yourself if you are prepared to live up to the example you will set for the rest of your life.
Photo by Shana Siler