You’re never too young
There is no age requirement for leading a revival or being spiritually mature. One of the best kings in the Bible began his reign at at age 8 (Josiah). David killed Goliath as a teenager. And most of Jesus’ disciples were probably about 22 years old when He rose from the dead and sent them out to establish and lead His church. So why would we make an age requirement for missionaries?
About a year after graduating Bible College, one of the most mature Christian couples we know tried to get trained through a mission board to plant churches among unreached tribes. They were told to wait a few years until they were older. There were no character flaws or any specific skills they were lacking. The only knock against them was that they were young. But is that really a disadvantage?
The mission field helps you grow
Moving to the mission field young is actually incredibly helpful. Most of the skills you need for the mission field are best learned and developed on the mission field. Learning by doing is the best way to learn. And if you feel like you don’t yet have enough faith or love to be a missionary, join the club. None of us do. But after being on the mission field for a while, we have a lot more faith and love than we did before we came. I can’t think of a better way to grow in faith than to jump right into the battlefield of an unreached people group. As you see God come through in the darkest of times, your faith in Him, your love for Him, and your love for his unreached image-bearers all around you will increase dramatically.
Don’t wait. Prepare.
If you are somewhere between age 21 and 25, and you are interested in long term missions, waiting is the worst thing you could do. You don’t magically sprout character and ministry skills as you grow older. You might not be ready for the mission field yet. But if that is true, instead of waiting, it’s time to prepare. Maybe you need a certain college degree or skill set, like nursing or social work. Maybe you need someone to teach you how to study the Bible so that you can feed off God’s Word in an unreached area and teach it to others.
But whatever you need, get it done, and move to the mission field. Thousands of unreached people die every day having never even known someone who could share the gospel with them. If reaching the unreached is something that is important to you, there’s no time to waste.
If we don’t intentionally spend our time preparing for the mission field, we lose our focus and risk losing our desire to move to unreached areas altogether. If missions is what we are called to, we shouldn’t have any fallbacks or plan B’s. We should pursue what God has called us to with all our hearts until He leads us in a different direction. And we certainly shouldn’t tell prospective missionaries that they need to wait to be older. If a bunch of youngsters can establish God’s church, surely God can use young people for His glory on the mission field today.