The Missionary and the Humanitarian (Part 1 of 5) (by Ben Johnson)

The work of the humanitarian is to help people physically. To the humanitarian, they see problems in this world that need to be fixed and ease the suffering of many. Humanitarians see poverty, sanitation, education, and sickness as the problems that must be solved.

HumanitarianThe humanitarian will then start orphanages and schools.  They will dig wells and help get running water to the people. The humanitarian will start a homeless shelter to help the poor. They will bring in medicines and provide better medical care. They may start a clinic or hospital. They will tend to the physical needs of the people.  Because he seeks to aid people physically, everyone loves the humanitarian.

The work of a missionary is different. Whereas the humanitarian focuses on the physical; the missionary looks at the spiritual. The missionary sees all the problems in the world as spiritual problems. The missionary sees the lost and dying. He sees the spiritual darkness and the idols. He sees that people are trying to earn their way to a better afterlife.

The missionary then starts a church.  He gives out the Gospel and pleads for men to put their faith in Christ. He arms himself with the truth to help people see the light of the Gospel. He knows that the only way to truly help people is that they would be changed from the inside out. He will toil day and night and sometimes see few come to Christ. He does his best to tend to the spiritual needs of the people. Because he seeks to change the beliefs of a society, many will hate him.

I believe a clear line needs to be drawn on what is a humanitarian and what is a missionary. Christians are called to be missionaries, not humanitarians. We are called to primarily help with the spiritual needs of the people not the physical ones. The hard truth is that lost people can tend to people’s physical needs and I would even daresay better than the Christian. However, a lost person cannot help with the true needs of people.

So now, I wish to take a few posts to make a clearer distinction on our calling as Christians to be missionaries or more specifically Gospel preachers.  I will do that by answering the objections I have heard when it comes to exclusively preaching the Gospel as opposed to an either only humanitarian work or a mixture of humanitarian work and Gospel proclamation.


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