I Took the Road Less Traveled
By Matt Beemer
I Took The Road Less Traveled
”I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”
Robert Frost’s famous poem ends with these words, but for me, it is a reminder of how I started my journey along a ‘road less travelled’ – The road signposted, ‘Missionary’.
When I was young, though I didn’t understand it, there were road signs pointing me toward this road less travelled. I loved reading about the American pioneers imagined what it would be like to be a pioneer in an untamed land. I would even create my own adventure by trying to get lost in the miles of endless woods behind my home, only to find to my disappointment, that no matter how hard I tried I would eventually find a road that I recognized and no longer be lost.
But it wasn’t until after I graduated from Bible School that I found the road to adventure. My wife and I were newly married and knew we had a call on our lives. We were helping a small church in Michigan as volunteers and giving every hour we could to the ministry. Being volunteers at the church, Julie worked and I would draw houses to make ends meet.
However, my frustration was building at the realization that what I was doing was the most natural and temporary of types of work. This frustration built until one summer morning when the sun splashed across my drawing board and I looked at the graphite I had painstakingly applied to the large sheet of paper and thought, “not one single ounce of what I am doing at this moment touches eternity.” I was drawing another ‘dream house’ on what amounted to nothing more than paper - made from trees, so that someone could cut down even more trees and arrange them into a building that might not even be here in a hundred years.
As I sat at that drawing board, I longed to impact the eternity of souls. I wanted my life to make a difference, and an eternal difference. I wanted to tell the untold, and reach the unreached. To go to those areas of the world that others didn’t want to go to.
Twenty years later I can truly say I’ve traveled the road less traveled, but what a road it has been! My goodness, this road should be marked with those highway signs that say, ‘Scenic Views Ahead’! For the road signposted, ‘Missionary’, has truly been a beautiful road to travel upon!
According to the US Center for World Missions, there are more than 100,000 people that write off to missionary organizations every year sensing some kind of call to travel upon this missionary road. However, less than 1% of these ever find the road, and of those who do, in just 5 years 80% have taken a detour. Being a missionary is, in the words of Frost, a road ‘less traveled by’.
It is estimated that out of the 1 Billion evangelical Christians who live on this ball of green and blue, there are only 400,000 missionaries. That’s just .04% of the Church – talk about a road less traveled! This means that even if we doubled the number of missionaries, it would still be less than 1% of the Church.
And the crazy thing is, though so few travel this road, it is the most rewarding of roads to travel upon. I’m forty and have spent nearly half my life on this road and I can truly say that I cannot think of any more rewarding way to invest my life.
Not only have I seen the incredible power and demonstration of God, I can say my desire to make an eternal difference is being fulfilled! I’ve seen more than 1000 Muslims born-again while leading our church in inner-city England! There are fifteen women in current our student body here in Africa who no longer suffer the stigma of not having children. Some were standing for children for as much as 8 years, but after just a few months hearing the Word of God in class, all are now pregnant! I love the view from this road!
We’ve also enjoyed seeing those whom we’ve ministered to go on to do great things. For example, we have a young lady who graduated from our Bible school in Manchester, who is now reaching into North Korea and having amazing results. A current team member was recently holding meetings in a village her in Nigeria and in addition to several who were healed a paralyzed woman was completely healed. Having just returned to do some more meetings in that same village the team member reported that this same woman was dancing and running and jumping more than anyone else in the church! I could go on an on rehearsing the beauty of the eternal scenery that traveling this road less traveled has brought to our lives. I do love the view from here!
For me, living for the cause of telling the untold and reaching the unreached is like the Forest Gump of journeys! Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s almost an addiction of some kind, only without the negative side affects. It ‘feels’ just way too good to stop!
The journey has its twists and turns and it’s not always an easy road to travel, but when I look back on how God has given me fun little ‘rest stops’ along this road less travelled, I think it’s almost too good to tell others about. As a missionary, I’m supposed to be depressed, starving, and above all – not enjoying life. That must be a different road, because that’s not been where this road called, ‘Missionary’, has taken me. Actually, I’ve thought it could be that there is an unspoken conspiracy among missionaries to paint the worse possible picture of what it means to be a missionary so that they can keep all the fun to themselves! It is an incredible journey, this road less traveled!
There have been some great ‘rest stops’, like the time our family found ourselves in the south of France, just as the world famous Monaco Grand Prix was finishing. We took a small detour off the highway to arrive just as they were loading the still warm cars into their trucks. There I was standing in the course with all the race markings and banners still in place. So I thought, ‘Why not?’… I drove that little three cylinder Fiat rental car as fast it would go around the circuit. I’ve been behind the wheel of an Alpha Romero 166 winding through the mountain roads of northern Italy, and experienced the adrenalin filled joy of belting down the German Autobahn in a brand new Mercedes that the rental agent reluctantly upgraded me too (it was the only car left on the lot)! If you’re going to travel the road less traveled, why not enjoy the ride! These are the kind of joys I would have never known if I hadn’t decided to give my life to the ‘road less travelled’.
I’ve eaten well on this journey too. From crêpes under the Eifel Tower in Paris, to incredible pasta in a side-street café in Florence, Italy to a ‘proper’ breakfast at the House of Lords with ambassadors and ministers of state. Speaking of Lords and Ladies, my wife and I have had the privilege of dining with a Baroness, or two over the years… and where did we dine, none other than Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s former residence. In Egypt, I’ve had stuffed pigeon and cow brain ‘McNuggets’ (think chicken McNuggets only with Cow Brains instead of chicken), and you don’t want to know some of what I’ve eaten in Burma or Thailand. All of these culinary experiences add color to life and it’s all because I chose to travel on the road less travelled.
When I started this journey, I never thought I would experience such things, and though my focus has always been souls, God has finds clever ways to rewarded me with a great view as we travel this road called, ‘Missionary.
I’ve climbed the three highest peaks in the UK and about to climb the highest in Africa. I’ve had great seats at a ‘free’ center-court match at Wimbledon after finishing a hectic ministry schedule in London. Another time, Julie and I were blessed with ring-side seats to one of the biggest boxing matches in British History. Everyone who was anyone was there, and they were all sat behind us and paid big money for the privilege! However, because one of the boxers, was a Christian from the USA and wanted an American Pastor to help in his preparation for the match, we got free ring-side seats! I have been followed by secret police in a Muslim country, and travelled 3 days in Burma to a meeting where more than 5000 believers received the Baptism of the Spirit. And, I’ve met the most amazing of people along the way. Why, oh why, isn’t this a busier road!
Now here’s the thing, I do not believe that everyone should be a missionary. But, even if we only doubled the number of missionaries it would make a big difference to the cause of Christ. And that would still mean there’s more than 99% of the church to help finance, care for and encourage that 1% as they go!
Ralph Winters, who only recently went on to Glory, is a man who has done more for modern missions than almost any other I know. He made a powerful statement, “What is needed today is not just a few who are willing to go themselves, but those who will be facilitators of others by the thousands. This is our heartbeat. We want others to know what a beautiful road this is, and to help them find it, and then care for and support them on their journey.
Club1040.com exists for just such a purpose, helping others travel this same and beautiful road. My hope is that through the efforts of Club1040, the road will become a road – much more traveled!
The Club1040 vision is to see closure to what Jesus started, to see a finished work of the Great Commission. Jesus defined the finish line in Matthew 24:14, when he said that this Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached throughout all the world as a witness to EVERY nation, AND THEN the end will come.
According to joshuaproject.net, one of the best mission resources available, there are still more than 40% of the world’s 7 Billion people who are considered unreached. Therefore, if we are going to bring closure to the great commission, we will have to make significant changes. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.
My hope is that this short article has sown a seed of change in you. Maybe I’ve helped you to think differently about the missionary call. I trust you will begin to see the missionary journey for the beautiful journey that it is and either personally start down this road, or help others as they travel the ‘road less traveled’.
We’ve created a short film called, ‘New Breed’. It’s just fifty minutes and follows our family as we moved from the UK to Africa. If you would like a free copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org If you are a pastor, maybe you could show it to your congregation, or use it in your small-group ministry.
If you, like I myself, long for your life to make an eternal impact, contact me personally at email@example.com and maybe we can help you find your ‘road less travelled’.
If you can’t personally travel on the road less travelled, but would like to help us continue on our journey, you can visit www.club1040.com for details on how you can enable us to go in your place.