When God Calls

By Bryan Abernathy

October 2018
Pentecostal Life 

Download the October 2018 Facilitator/study guide to accompany this article.

Objective: To understand the power of the call of God

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:2–4)

The call of God upon the heart of a person to go to a field of labor is life changing. We still believe that it requires a call of God to go to a foreign field and reach souls for the gospel’s sake. I remember G. A. Mangun would always passionately ask a new applicant, “Talk about your call. Anyone can have a burden for a place, but do you have a call from God?” This is the litmus test for every person who meets the Global Missions Board and seeks an appointment—a call from God.

I have never forgotten how, as a young boy, I heard T. F. Tenney make a statement while speaking to missionaries. “When you get to the field, the devil will strip you of everything you have except your call of God. He cannot take away your call.”

Bennie DeMerchant went to Brazil with a call and built his house seemingly in the middle of the Amazon jungle. However, by the time his missionary labors were finished, his house was in the middle of a city of over two million people with over one thousand churches and a work that continues to grow by the hand of God. He went with just a call.

My dad had a map of Africa under the glass top of his office desk in the church he pioneered in Titusville, Florida. This was years before he met the Foreign (now Global) Missions Board to go to Africa. He felt the call even before he knew the direction of where to go. When God gave the direction, he did not hesitate to answer the call. God will give divine direction if men are willing to say, “Here I am; send me!” He knows where He needs you and He knows how to direct you to the right place.

I did not know what to expect when we got off the plane the first time in Africa. Tarzan? Elephants stampeding? Monkeys everywhere? It was a bit of a shock to see a large city filled with many people who made our family of very white people stand out even more than usual. But it did not take long for our family to fall in love with the country and the people where God placed us.

Being familiar with the people, cultures, and languages of your mission field is always a priority. Global Missions emphasizes to newly appointed missionaries the importance of knowing this information. In fact, the first term of service is dedicated to this need among the missionary family. Without a good understanding of these areas, the success of a missionary is limited and sometimes non-effective in many ways.

Reaching out to people and making an impact with friendly attitudes and conversations is always the starting point to reaching people. I remember a pastor who was introducing his saints to me and he said each time, “This is my friend. . . . ” I was a young evangelist wanting to learn everything I could, so I asked him why he did this. He said he invited them to be his friends and then he invited them to be believers.

Even before the barrels containing our belongings were unloaded in Africa, my dad knew all our neighbors and developed friendships that continued the entire time we were there. His contacts were his friends. He would say, “If you want friends, you have to show yourself friendly!” Establishing a work on foreign soil differs in many ways than in your native land, but it is also very similar in other ways. Friendships formed in the beginning can last a lifetime and provide the ability for God to work where we cannot.

When doors open that you know were opened by the hand of God, you realize how vital and necessary His call really is. When miracles take place that you know could only have come from His gracious hand, you will know God has called you, and He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

We can talk about being world changers. We can say we want our actions to do something that will change their world. We can build wells and feed the hungry, which are noble causes and great needs. But the greater cause and need is to reach souls with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The world does need a change, but without a God-called person to take the message, we are wasting our time and efforts. With a call of God, nothing is impossible because He will not fail. He will use a called individual to do the miraculous and reach the lost.