“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
It was at that moment as the missionary speakers from Turkey wrapped up their sharing time that I knew I was being called to be one of God’s harvesters. I looked over at my mom with tears running down my face and told her, “God wants me to be a missionary.” I had heard this verse so many times. I had grown up in a pastor’s family of a small Christian & Missionary Alliance church in suburban Pennsylvania, where I learned all the Sunday School answers. Our church had always been intentional when it came to missions, and my favorite times in the church calendar were when missionaries came to speak. As a kid, I loved beating the African drums, hesitantly touching enormous snake skins, examining currency from around the world, and hearing the fantastic stories of what God was doing all around the world. I had heard this harvest verse so many times, but for some reason this time it sounded different. It felt personal. It was as if God was directly speaking this verse to me.
From that moment on at age ten, I pursued this invitation God had given me. I didn’t know what form exactly this calling was going to look like, but when people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would quickly respond, “a missionary!” Perhaps this is not the typical answer most ten or eleven year-olds give, but I was confident that this was what God had in store for me. However, as I grew up and progressed through middle and high school, I started to question how I was actually supposed to do this.
I grew up in a multi-generational pastor’s family; my grandfather, uncle, and father were all pastors. Even though I greatly respected what they did, I knew I did not want to be a pastor like them. I didn’t love public speaking and the thought of giving a sermon every week made me anxious. I tried to think of other creative options. Maybe I could be a teacher or something like that at an international school, but I knew I wasn’t going to really enjoy working in a classroom either. I found management and business really interesting; numbers and complex details that needed organized were my thing! But I couldn't see how my interests in business were going to combine with my missionary calling. I felt like if I went into the business world I wouldn’t be fulfilling the calling God had given me. I also felt that if I followed the calling God gave me, I would be miserable because I wouldn’t be doing the things I enjoy. Not the greatest of options…
Thankfully, God placed people in my life who taught me how God’s calling to the harvest is larger than just two or three job descriptions. I also learned how business, along with every other profession, can be used to to expand the Kingdom of God. I was encouraged to check out Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, PA) where their business department offers several classes about Business as Missions (BAM) and social entrepreneurship. It was here that I was mentored and encouraged in my calling to missions and business. So many people asked me why I was going to college for business if I was actually pursing missions, but my eyes were opened to the fact that the tools God gives us to achieve the Great Commission are varied and many. And they do not all necessarily fit within the box of conventional missionary work. The body of Christ is empowered with many different parts. Each part has a unique role to play and without each part confidently doing its job, the body would be incomplete.
I’m currently serving through Envision in Taipei, Taiwan with a BAM coffee shop called The Aroma. It’s such a privilege to see my technical skills being used for the glory of God. Business is not a lesser calling, but rather a unique function of the Body of Christ intent on bringing back the King. I may not fit into the job description of a “traditional missionary” when I work on financial spreadsheets, plan a new marketing strategy, teach English, or pull a shot of coffee for a customer, but in all those things I am fulfilling the call I, along with every other Christian, have received to participate in the Great Commission.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” To bring in this abundant harvest, the Church needs every able-bodied worker to grab the tool God has placed in their hands and get to work!
Nathan Conklin is serving with Envision as a two-year resident in Taipei, Taiwan. Nathan is passionate about Business as Mission and empowering people to use their positions and interests for the Glory of God. Nathan is originally from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania and in his free time enjoys playing music, exploring the beautiful country of Taiwan, and spending time with good friends.