by Joel Comiskey, Winter 2019

When my wife and I arrived in Costa Rica in April 1990, we were as green as gringos could be. As part of a one-year intensive Spanish study program, we longed to speak Spanish correctly because we knew we’d soon be missionaries in Ecuador, South America.

As we studied the Spanish language, we learned that God gives grace in weakness. Instead of saying, Quisiera conocerte, “I would like to get to know you,” I would say, Quisiera cocinarte, “I would like to cook you.” Some of my more hilarious Spanish blunders are not repeatable in public.

I began to learn Spanish when I was thirty-three years old. Sorting out the foreign Spanish sounds was difficult for me. To compensate for my lack of natural talent, I had to study for hours. Like a child, I learned the importance of following grammar rules and the logic of the Spanish language. I knew, however, that taking time in the beginning would have a long-term impact on my ministry in Latin America.

When I speak around the world, I often say to church members, “You are in training right now. If you can lead a cell, multiply it, and supervise the new leader, you can do the same thing anywhere in the world.”

Yes, some might need to learn a different culture and language, but Jesus pointed the way when he became incarnate in our world, born in a human context.

A few weeks ago, I did a seminar in Ecuador. The lead pastor in Ecuador had already planted eight cell churches and had only been in Ecuador for eight years. He was born again at Bethel International in Newark, led a cell, multiplied it several times, and then was sent as a missionary church planter to Ecuador.

God might have something similar for you.

God is a missionary God. He has a larger purpose for your cell than good fellowship. He wants you and your cell group to catch a heart for a lost world. One cell church I visited often asked the cells to conclude with intercessory prayer for the unreached peoples of the world. This cell church developed an excellent series of prayer profiles on unreached groups for other churches and cell groups to use.

But missions is not only “over there.” Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jerusalem refers to local city missions, Judea and Samaria are missions within the country, and the ends of the earth refers to cross-cultural missions. We need to ask God to give us a missionary heart for all three regions.