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Q. As a pastor in my country, with an opportunity to move to the USA, should I do it? And would I be able to still do God’s work there?

Sir am pastor here in Nigeria, I have two sisters in USA, and they want to help me to relocate to USA. Sir is that decision right for me? And is it possible to do the work of God over there?

Thanks sir, I will be expecting your reply

Answer

Dear Pastor,

The first thing that comes to my mind is this text in 1 Corinthians 7:

17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (NKJV)

In this text Paul encourages Christians to be content with the circumstances they were in at the time of their conversion to trusting in Christ alone. This becomes the context from which you may live out Christ to those you know. This is the context in which the change Christ is producing in you will be most evident to others, who have known you before. There are exceptions, of course, such as slaves having the opportunity to obtain their freedom (and thus a broader context for ministry). And then there are lifestyles which should be left behind. For example, a criminal who comes to trust in Christ is going to have to find a new form of employment.

Serving as an elder for many years, I have observed many students who have come to Dallas from abroad to obtain further training. At the beginning, they plan to return to their home country, but in the end, the vast majority will choose to stay in the USA if the opportunity presents itself. Instead of sending folks back home to minister among their own people, we have to send foreign missionaries.

Because of this, it is very important for you to consider the real reasons why you would wish to come to the USA. For example, many are encouraged to come to the USA by family members who have come here before them. In such cases, I would encourage those urged to come by family members to consider the words of our Lord:

25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25-27 (NASB)

One of the great attractions of our country (which are really temptations) is to have the opportunity to pursue the prosperity and ease of the good life which so many have here. Our Lord has words to consider here as well:

3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:3-11 (NASB)

18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19 (NASB)

Paul says the same things:

10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 2 Timothy 4:10 (NASB)

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

And so the writer to the Hebrews:

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16 (NASB)

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26 (NASB)

Strive faithfully, and persevere, so that you can say these words:

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NASB)

And so that you may hear these words from our Lord:

19 ”Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. 20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 ”His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:19-21 (NASB)

One final observation. God has uniquely made you (Psalm 139:13-16) and gifted you with a unique combination of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) to minister to the body of Christ. He has also brought you up in a certain culture, and knowing a particular language. Given all these unique equippings, where would it seem that you could most effectively serve our Lord and His church?

Blessings,
Bob Deffinbaugh

ps. This series on the Work of the Ministry might also have some helpful thoughts related to these issues.