Tom Elliff - A Heart for Missions

“There’s a place in this great wide world for you to plug into,” said Tom Elliff, president of the IMB. “Everyone in this room should ask God, ‘Give me a heart for missions,’” he told students, faculty, and staff of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary at a special Chapel service on Friday, May 17, 2012. His message was part of the seminary’s Global Missions Week, which culminated in the Seminary’s 51st annual Missions Conference.

“To know what it means to have a heart for missions, look at the heart of Apostle Paul.” Elliff explained in Romans 1:14 the repeated phrase “I am” was like a heartbeat, the heart of a missionary. In Verse 14 Paul says, “I am obligated.” In verse 15 he says “I am eager.” In verse 16 he says “I am not ashamed.”

Elliff pointed out, “Having a heart for missions is having a heart that is compelled by the presence of a serious debt.” He quoted Paul, “When I see anyone, I have a sense of obligation.” Elliff emphasized that it is a profound obligation to the Greeks, the barbarians, and everyone in between – the entire population. He noted that soon there will be 7 billion people on the earth. He asked, “How many will die without hearing the name of Jesus? If you have a heart for missions, you will have this sense of obligation.”

“You will want to go,” he explained, “Not because it’s an adventure, not to see the scenery, not to see new places, new things, or new people – but because of the debt we owe to Jesus.” Elliff reminded his listeners that Paul was “eager to preach the Gospel.” All he wanted to do was share the Good News.

The IMB president concluded by saying, “Sometimes we make it so complicated to share the Gospel. The spirit of God is in it – just tell the people and let God do the work.” He addressed the group and asked, “If you won’t confess Christ here, I doubt you’ll do it at the end of a gun. If you won’t share the Gospel here with your neighbors, are you going to do it in Afghanistan? There is no message more important. The Good News is not good news unless it gets there on time.” He invited his listeners to come forward and make a commitment: “Lord, I am willing to do whatever you want me to do with my life.”