Why does God send?

Why does God Send?.jpg

Ali Maegraith is an ECM Missionary serving in Berlin. She has been church planting in Berlin with her husband Rich for the past eight years. In this article she reflects on why she traded life in the ‘lucky country’ for a grungy European city.

Ali circle

In the Bible, God is always in the business of sending people. Abraham was sent. Moses was sent. With the coming of the Son of God and the fulfilment of God’s Promises, Jesus said ‘Go!’. Over the centuries, the gospel has gone throughout the world, brought by people, who in obedience, were sent. In Europe, there is now a new generation who also have never heard of Jesus. Who will God send to them?

Once you are a believer, you are on mission. What is the difference then, between being sent in your own immediate context and being sent overseas for the sake of the gospel? As an Australian family living in Europe, I’d like to share what I’ve learnt about being sent for the sake of the gospel. 

 "the gospel has gone throughout the world brought by people who, in obedience, were sent"

The significance of ‘place’

In Australia, I’m Ali. Wife of Rich, mum of the ‘Maegraith boys’. Just a normal mum, really. But in Germany I’m a part of ‘that Australian family’. Everyone we meet, can’t believe we would want to make this dirty corner of grungy Berlin our home. And actually love it. Going does not make sense to the world. The rubric of the world is to find the nicest possible place to live within your means and go there. Or another way of saying it, is to find the most ideal situation where you feel the most ‘wohl’ which is German for yourself/content/satisfied, and then live in that place. The world is concerned about the ‘where’. We are concerned about the ‘who’. 

Australia is a beautiful land and most Europeans have rose-coloured glasses when they think about Australia. Hence, the utter confusion when they encounter someone who is happy to be ‘here’ and not ‘there’. Now that we have returned from home assignment twice now, we seem to have the same response from everyone: ‘Oh we thought you were going back to Australia to stay there’. Subtext: ‘because you couldn’t possibly want to live here.’ So just existing in Europe is a witness in itself. Pray for us to be bold and take these moments to point to Jesus, who is a greater prize than living in the most beautiful places on earth.

‘You think God is sending you to Germany for Germans. But he is actually sending you for you!’


God’s work in us

‘You think God is sending you to Germany for Germans. But he is actually sending you for you!’ 

These were final words of advice from a friend before leaving Australia. Because of his love, God is in the lifelong process of training us and changing us into the likeness of his Son. Being on mission in Europe has exposed our hidden vulnerabilities and struggles in a way that may not have happened in a more familiar environment. The longing to see the ‘gospel fruit’ that doesn’t come, the feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’ through periods of doubt and depression, the seasons of a flat prayer life, the pain that comes to your children because of your own choices, living in the ‘weirdness’ of being a missionary amongst friends who just have ‘normal’ jobs and dealing with how to ‘justify your existence’ or not, periods of being alone with your thoughts for more time than is actually healthy. Mission presses us to ask, like the psalmist: ‘where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121:1,2). We all desperately need God. Without discounting the trials that we all face daily, mission brings its own unique version of them. God sends us for the sake of ourselves.

The language learning adventure

In your own language, you can be clever. You can be subtle. You can be eloquent. You can be self-serving. You can even be manipulative. Until... You are in a situation where you can’t use your own language any more.

Sharing the gospel in a foreign language brings simplicity and immediacy to the message. When Jackie Pullinger went to the walled city in Hong Kong, all she knew how to say in Cantonese was ‘Jesus loves you’. She took this to the dirty alleyways and saw prostitutes and drug addicts come to faith.  Pray for me, to know the power of the simplicity of the gospel. 

James O’Fraser, when he went to the Lisu people in China with the gospel, had to learn an unwritten language with only himself and the Holy Spirit to decipher it. It’s just as well the gospel is not complicated! For us in Germany, we have an absolute plethora of rich language learning resources and yet we still struggle with understanding and speaking. But it’s in this very weakness that God is at work.

When you don’t know how to communicate clearly, it is humbling to the core because no one knows who you are. I have a German-speaking friend who I met in Australia, speaking English. I always thought she was a very quiet and shy person. When I finally met her in Europe, I felt I had to get to know her all over again! She was outgoing, chatty and confident in her mother tongue. A different person. Learning a language forces you to not only put natural conversation on hold but also your personality, for a time. Your sense of identity becomes shaky! These lessons in humility are not easy but they are essential for us, as people entrusted with God’s word.

"Nothing is wasted with God: there is a reason for his sending."

Your life is not your own

Again and again, as we look back on the last few years of being in Germany, it’s tempting to ask ‘what if’. It’s tempting to question what we could have done better and how we could have avoided the mistakes that we made and the pain that came from them. But the answer that God keeps bringing us to is ‘It was all necessary’. In his love he is training and equipping us for the ‘works he has prepared for us’ (Ephesians 2:10). Nothing is wasted with God: there is a reason for his sending. 

As missionaries in Germany, we are just as susceptible to finding a life for ourselves outside of God. The city is rich in art and life. There are all kinds of possibilities for finding meaning and comfort right here. So whether we are in our ‘home culture’ or on the very ‘spiritual’ mission field, it is the same. Are our lives our own or do they actually belong to God? Jesus said:  ‘Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life’ (John 12:24-25). There are treasures in the world that God has given us to enjoy. However, it’s the sending (and implicit in sending is leaving), and trusting God in an unknown country, that we find all our needs met in him.

So to you, a believer whose life is not his or her own, my question is: ‘Is God sending you?’ Every Christian at the very least, is compelled to ask God that question. We don’t have to know all the answers, or understand why, or know exactly how he’s going to do it or what he is going to do. We trust in a good and loving Father who has entrusted us with an extraordinary message, we are safe in his hands and can be confident in Him as we are sent. 

pray icon orange


  • For Rich and Ali to have lots of opportunities to tell people about ‘who’ they’re in Berlin for.
  • For the Lord to continue to shape them in his Son’s image.
  • For a deeper understanding and fluency in the German language.

This article appears in ECM News Autumn 2023

« Back