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50 Bible Verses to Encourage Missionaries: Scriptures for Reassurance, Vision, Protection, and Calling

The fuel of missions is meditation on God’s promises for gospel workers.
The entire Bible is about mission—God’s and ours.

There are countless verses in the Bible that speak to the missionary experience. There are many reasons you may be searching for a collection of passages on missions. Perhaps you are a supporting church looking for biblical prompts to pray for your missionaries. Perhaps you are a parent or friend of a struggling missionary, searching for a biblical encouragement to send them. Perhaps you’re a missionary yourself, and you simply need to hear from the Lord through his word.

Thankfully, whatever God calls us to do, he supplies the means for it. Just as God calls missionaries, he speaks to them all throughout Scripture.

In this post, it is our aim to unpack collections of Bible verses relevant for missionaries to encourage, clarify, fortify, and inspire gospel workers across cultures sent from the church in every age.

1. Serving the Lord in Missions

The Bible speaks of missions as a service to God. Declaring the gospel to the nations is always the natural fruit of Christian worship. Creation itself yearns to hear the gospel spoken. The nations, so lost that they cannot even see their lostness, deeply need God’s mercy in the form of missionaries to bring them the gospel, to bring them hope, and to bring them the message of Christ so that God can work in the hearts of their people.

Missions isn’t a vanity project, and it isn’t the janitorial work of ministry. It is the crown jewel of Christian worship—the kind of service in which David exults, which Christ commands, and for which the Apostle Paul ceaselessly labors: “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

Psalm 96:1-3:

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

1 Samuel 12:24:

“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.”

Jeremiah 20:9:

“If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

Mark 10:45:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Acts 4:19-20:

“But Peter and John answered them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Galatians 6:9:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

1 Peter 4:10:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

2. God’s Special Purpose for Missionaries

Missions was God’s original plan for the garden of Eden: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:28). Adam and Eve were meant to expand the kingdom of God. After their fall into sin, even though the world changed, God’s vision didn’t change.

That’s why he renews his vision through Abraham: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Genesis 12:1-3). What is the final purpose of God’s plan through Abram? “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Missions work has always been special to God. God has always been fundamentally driven by a missionary heart. Therefore, when he calls missionaries to do his work, he is calling people to participate in the work that has driven the history of God’s work in the world from Eden to today.

These verses help us to better understand God’s own missionary heart, and the reason missionary work is special to him.

Proverbs 19:21:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Matthew 24:14:

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 25:40:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 28:19-20:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Mark 6:7:

“And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”

Luke 10:1-2:

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Acts 1:8:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 13:47:

“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Romans 10:13-15:

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

Revelation 14:6:

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”

3. Missions as an Act of Love

Missions work is an extension of God’s love for the world through the church to particular people, following the example of Christ: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

God wants us to know—whether we are supporting missionaries, considering missionary work, or actively working on the mission field—that missions isn’t just about conversion, expansion of the kingdom, or growing the church. All of these are more basically formal expressions of God’s love to his people, and we should never lose sight of that, no matter what role we play in realizing God’s desire to bring the nations to Christ.

Mark 5:19-20:

“And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”

Mark 16:15:

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”

John 13:34:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Romans 12:9-13:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

1 Corinthians 6:19:

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

4. God’s Protection of Missionaries

Deuteronomy 31:6:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."

2 Samuel 22:3-7:

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. ‘In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.”

Psalm 34:19:

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”

Psalm 121:8:

“The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

1 Corinthians 9:14:

“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”

5. Calling/Vocation

Becoming a missionary isn’t like becoming an accountant. God sets apart missionaries in a unique, providential way—a “calling,” if you prefer. If the gospel is the heart of the church that keeps the lifeblood flowing to its members, then missionaries are the vascular system, running that lifeblood to every organ, every appendage, every inch of skin in the world. A beating heart means nothing without the rest of the vascular system: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14)

Missionaries can reflect on the nature of God’s call on their lives through reading these Bible verses. Ask God to fill up your heart with a clear and confident sense of direction, geography, and a heart for doing a particular work in a particular people group.

Isaiah 65:1:

“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by my name.”

John 15:16:

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

1 Corinthians 1:9:

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:28-29:

“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Ephesians 4:4:

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.”

Philippians 3:14:

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24:

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

2 Thessalonians 2:14:

“To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Timothy 1:9:

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

1 Peter 1:15-16:

“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

1 Peter 2:21:

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

1 Peter 3:9:

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

6. Discouragement

Sometimes, ministry is overwhelmingly discouraging. Over time, the mundane ebb and flow of ministry can erode the shoreline of one’s internal sense of calling and conviction to do the work. During such seasons, it’s important for missionaries to nourish their souls with the word of God. The Lord knows that we get discouraged, which is why he directly speaks to this so often. The great heroes of Scripture often God discouraged. Elijah almost gave up on ministry entirely (1 Kings 18-19).

The Apostle Paul described the hardships of ministry this way: “[W]e felt that we had received the sentence of death.” But he knows the purpose—“But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians. 1:9). Like Paul, and like Elijah, these Bible verses are meant to be a respite for missionaries in the midst of ministry discouragement.

Joshua 1:9:

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 4:25:

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”

John 14:1:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

Romans 8:5:

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”

Romans 8:31-35:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

2 Corinthians 5:7:

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”

Ephesians 4:25-28:

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

Colossians 3:2:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

1 Peter 5:7-8:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Conclusion

Prayerfully consider three ways that you can harness these Scriptural promises, commands, and exhortations as you participate in God’s heart for the nations:

First, send these passages to missionaries. Use these verses as prompts in your prayer for the missionaries you support. Pray through these biblical texts as you ask God to bless the work of missionaries around the world sharing Christ with the nations, answering David’s command, fulfilling Christ’s commission, and continuing Paul’s work.

Second, use these verses for the multiple ends that God inspired them: “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). And more than that: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Finally, reflect on these verses as you consider whether God is calling you to the mission field. Pray that he would open your heart to the global need that exists for faithful workers to preach the gospel and stay long enough to reap a harvest. Pray that God would show you how to participate in the great work he is doing through the gospel around the globe as you consider the rich theme of missionary work in Scripture.

About the Author

P.C. Maxwell is a writer and theologian. He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor’s in biblical languages from Moody Bible Institute. He resides in the Chicago area with his wife and contributes regularly to ABWE’s blog and communications strategy.

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