The Orient is filled with the graves of missionaries from past generations who went out to the field, knowing full well that it was unlikely that they would ever return. Some, like the Moravian brethren, sold themselves into slavery in order to enter closed lands. One couple voluntarily entered exile in a leper colony, knowing that it would cost them their freedom and eventually their lives.
As we read the stories of missionary heroes, there is a tendency to dismiss their sacrifices as something that can only happen in another place and time. But that just isn’t true. If we permit the Lord to lead us, He will allow us to share in the fellowship of His sufferings wherever we are.
For example, there are quiet men and women working behind the scenes at secular jobs—but living to help support missions. They cannot go personally, but they are able to sponsor others. I think these are the real unsung heroes of missions today. Often they are known only to God. These are the people who willingly sacrifice to save whatever money they can for the work of the Lord. They may get no glory in this world, but the Bible says they are serving Christ as effectively as any frontline warrior; and they are promised their reward.
There are many practical ways that you can enter into this fellowship of suffering without leaving the shores of your nation. Wherever you are, there is a cross for you to bear. God has a path of sacrifice for each one of us if we will ask Him for the privilege of self-denial.
Sacrifice and suffering for Christ all depend on how we choose to give our time and finances. Every one of us can at least find ways to give more time and more money to the kingdom of God if we will review our lifestyles.
The first step usually involves giving up the normal demands of our bodies for food and sleep in order to pray for others—situations, countries, peoples, tribes and the missionaries who are reaching out to them.
By fasting for a meal or giving up an evening of television, it is remarkable how much time you can make for the work of world-changing intercessory prayer. There are other strategic ways, of course, to volunteer time for missions, but none is as important as the work of prayer.