If you ask mission workers if they feel adequately cared for by their sending churches, most will likely say, “Not as much as we would like.” A majority in the church do not understand what the mission of the global Church is. The people in the church cannot adequately care for the mission workers sent out if the members do not understand the mission or do not have a commitment or passion for it. This issue of MF is all about what the church and its sent ones can do to overcome this problem and to make sure that the precious saints we send out are properly cared for and supported in their vital mission. See all the articles
If you ask mission workers if they feel adequately cared for by their sending churches, most will likely say, “Not as much as we would like.” The relationship between the sending church and the “sent ones” can be complicated with many factors getting in the way of doing a good job of sending people well and caring for them while they are on the field. It takes lots of time, energy, vision and commitment for a church to do it well. In this issue we provide stories of churches who are doing it well. But what are some of the things that get in the way of churches caring well for their mission workers?
“Wilson!” You probably know it as the most famous line from the film Castaway, starring Tom Hanks. If you haven’t seen it, the story follows a man named Chuck Noland whose plane crashes en route to Malaysia, which strands him on a deserted island. There he’s completely cut off from all relationships. And in the pain and madness of being so isolated, he eventually finds a volleyball, names it Wilson (since it’s already branded on the face of the ball), and the two are then inseparable.
It was 2008 and I had just finished my first term as a cross-cultural missionary in Nepal. It had been a wonderful season of life and ministry. Alongside the grueling work of language learning, I was discipling young men in the faith, I met my wife and I was personally growing in faith and maturity. That last part, the part about personal growth, was the most painful part. You see, I had been well trained, I had a good team on the field, but no one prepared me for the personal struggles I would face as I crossed cultures.
The age-old issue of missionary “support” has an age-old solution. It is found in the clear words of Scripture. Paul, a missionary of the first century, had been on a number of ventures. When he had fully preached in these parts, he heard there were unreached peoples in Spain. On his way there, he wanted to visit the Christians in Rome. So he wrote them a letter.
For most of us, missionary kids are an anomaly of life. They come to our churches for a year or a single Sunday while their parents are on home assignment. And we hardly get to know them before they leave again for the mission field. But on the Global Missions Podcast, TEAM Missionary Kid Coordinator Valerie Williams explains why these kids need your love—and how you can impact their lives in just one church visit.
There is no doubt that the ministry of member care is multi-leveled and multi-faceted. Multi-leveled in the cooperation of mission agencies, churches, individual caregivers and crisis agencies; multifaceted in the diversity of need of each individual field worker in each of numerous ministry locations and situations.
WHAT CHRISTIANS EARN: Annual Income of all Church Members: $53 trillion.1 (Annual income of evangelical Christians is approximately $6.72 trillion.)
MF—How did it all start? Share a macro view of your story, who you are and how you and Art started in missions. Dot—Art and I were both students at Houghton College when we married during the summer between our sophomore and junior years. We both were praying for God’s will as to what our life work should be and how to best prepare for it. During our junior year God directed us separately and directly to look into Native American missions. We finished our college studies with a major in Bible for Dot and a major in religion for Art. Seminary was next for Art.
My wife Susan and I had just returned after a first term serving in another country and culture. If someone made a list of the dos and don’ts for how to send people, our situation would have checked all the boxes for the “don’t” list. While we were in the frying pan, we had not felt the heat. But, arriving back in the USA…
The movement with which we are connected is bringing transformation—not just to the lives of families and individuals, but also to deeply rooted social problems including systemic prejudice. The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper: “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46 NLT). A few years ago, we learned of some churches in the Listening Movement that were not taking the Lord’s Supper. India’s systemic sin of casteism was the root of the problem. Casteism dictates that eating with a low-caste person makes a high-caste person spiritually unclean. “We cannot take the Lord’s Supper across caste lines,” they explained.
I don’t run very fast anymore. Age and extra pounds have robbed me of those days when I could sprint like the wind. I’m more of a plodder. Jogging slowly, I keep going. Step by labored step. My eight-month-old German shepherd puppy is quite the opposite. When we go for a run together, he pulls me forward. His tan-colored legs stretch out and his black tail wags when he can run a 10-second sprint. You can almost hear him saying, “Let’s do it again!”
The following article challenges pastors and missions leaders to break free from good mission endeavors to seek out God’s mission endeavors. It challenges us to question who is defining the priorities of our church’s mission efforts. If we seek to reach the world according to our own priorities then we are doomed to frustration and failure. The Lord desires obedience not sacrifice, so as disciples of Christ we must consider God’s priorities and shape our efforts to be in sync with His will. Based upon the Gospel message and the Commission of Jesus, I believe there are three priorities we should consider:
Click on the .pdf icon within this article to read the Unreached of the Day.
When I returned to the U.S. for my first furlough after more than two years on the field, one of the biggest treasures I experienced within my sending church was having a witness to my life. A retired couple from my church came to visit me abroad, and they spent almost two weeks with me. This couple had been mentors to me as I prepared to move overseas, and we were very close. They traveled the bumpy, sandy, not-really-a-road journey from the airport to my city. They stayed in my home and met my housemate and my language helper. They ate local food and bought things in the market, walking through the winding and narrow alleys. They toured the place where I worked, and my friends joined me during teaching sessions.
Antioch Church in Louisville, Kentucky just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its Missionary Care Team (MCT) in January 2022. This small church, with around 100 members, currently has 7 families and 2 single women sent out from its body and has cared for 25 families or singles on the mission field since 2012. Its declaration, “We pursue intentional gospel relationships to proclaim Christ’s glory among the nations” has drawn and encouraged missions-minded Christians since its inception. The church’s desire to intentionally pursue gospel relationships extends not only to the lost, but to those from its member- ship who take the gospel to the nations.