Missions and the Coronavirus

Missions and the Coronavirus

The whole world is reeling with the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. It has impacted every part of our world, our lives, and our conversations.

I was asked how the current global environment has impacted missionaries and how pastors and churches can pray/help them specifically. Here are some thoughts I have and hopefully others will share their insights in the comment section.

Travel

  • Missionaries on deputation and furlough have had meetings cancelled due to churches suspending services. This will delay their support raising and very likely their departure dates. Pray for wisdom for missionaries as they reschedule meetings and departure dates. Pray that this will be a fruitful time of study, rest, and preparation for future ministry.
  • Missionaries on fields where their visas require them to routinely leave the country and come back (e.g. 90 days, etc.) may not be able to get back into the country where they are ministering. Pray for wisdom for missionaries to know whether to come home before indefinite travel bans are imposed or whether to stay and risk not being able to leave their country for a long period of time. Pray for those who are required to leave for visa purposes to be able to return back into their countries.

Ministry

  • Like churches in America, any ministry plans missionaries may have made for things like Easter are now impacted.
  • Missionaries work on a ministry time-schedule for learning the language, starting a church, and getting pastors trained. Delays in being able to meet and hold services will likely push back some of those plans.
  • Pray for wisdom to know what to do regarding future ministry plans.
  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel creatively and for young believers to grow through this time of change and adversity.

Finance

  • In some countries, the missionaries may find that the exchange rate has changed in their favour. In other countries, they may face financial hardship as markets and economies fluctuate. Pray for God to provide for missionaries who are on the field and may face unexpected financial needs.
  • Missionaries who are just starting out on deputation may face financial hardship as they are quite reliant on love offerings and honorariums to pay their bills. Churches who have to cancel meetings can help by sending an offering to the missionary if they are financially able to do so. Pray for God to provide for missionaries who are on deputation and have had their meetings cancelled.

Misconceptions Christians portray about Muslims

Misconceptions Christians portray about Muslims

Misconceptions Christians Portray about Muslims

Many times Christians have misconceptions about Muslims. My question to you is when you first hear the word Muslim what comes to mind? Those thoughts would be your conceptions and ideas about Muslims, but today I would like to clear up common misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.

  1. All Muslims are terrorists— This is a very common misconception. The truth is not all Muslims are terrorists. Actually very few would be considered a terrorist. They are a minority that take the spotlight and so people end up assuming all Muslims are terrorists. I have many Muslim friends and know many Muslims and all of them hate that everyone looks at them and equates them to a terrorist. Why don’t we as Christians stop stereotyping Muslims and start loving them and showing them the love of Christ?
  2. All Muslims want to kill and destroy all Christians— Again another misconception that gets portrayed by the media and a small percentage of Muslims. Most Muslims do not care or mind what religion you are as long as you leave them to theirs. Actually, in the Koran you can find where it tells Muslims that their greatest friends would be Christians. So stop thinking that just because you know or saw a Muslim they are going to kill you. Why don’t we instead look at them in love and take the gospel to them?
  3. Taking the gospel to the Muslims means you will be martyred— Many people think that if you go to evangelize Muslims overseas that you are already going to be martyred before you even land in the country. Although it is a possibility, it is another misconception. Stop thinking going to a Muslim country is a death sentence. And anyways if it is, technically, as Christians we died and Christ lives in us so what does it matter if they kill us? They need the gospel and we must be willing to go no matter the cost.
  4. Muslims are hateful— This is not at all true. Some may be, yes, but most of the Muslims I have met are the friendliest people I have ever met. They welcome you into their homes and their lives. They treat you with great honor and respect. Honestly, most Muslims treat people better than most Christians. This should not be so, we should be loving people and loving Muslims and taking the gospel to them!

So why don’t we stop it with the generalization of all Muslims. Why don’t we start with the realization that they are in need of a Savior. They are in need of us taking the gospel to them. Let’s stop being  afraid of them and start loving them and showing them the love of Christ and how He died for them! If we would get rid of these misconceptions it would help us with the realization that Christ died for them and they are on their way to hell without Christ, so it is our responsibility, as Christians, to take the gospel to them!

Danger of Being Blessed

Danger of Being Blessed

There is a danger in being blessed. There are usually two extremes when missionaries raise their financial support. Either the missionary has too little support or the missionary has too much and denies the Lord asking, “Who is the Lord?”. 

Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things have I required of thee;

Deny me them not before I die:

Remove far from me vanity and lies:

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with food convenient for me:

Lest I be full, and deny thee,

And say, Who is the Lord?

Or lest I be poor, and steal,

And take the name of my God in vain.

We must not forget where our support comes from! If we do not have enough to feed our family or put a roof over our heads, then we should re-evaluate how much we are believing God and how much we are working! On the other hand, once we begin to feel comfortable with what the Lord has provided, we must guard our hearts from pride and the feelings of self-reliance!

James 4:6-10

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 pSubmit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 wHumble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

My dear brethren, 

As we raise our financial support and serve the Lord, may we never forget where the provisions come from – our Provider!

How Missionaries Can Mobilize While They Travel

How Missionaries Can Mobilize While They Travel

World Evangelism Think Tank – January 2020

The best way for the team to be involved in mobilizing more missionaries as they travel is not something that can be affected by a simple process of what they should do. The best way to be involved in mobilizing is first and foremost something that should be a matter of the heart, for out of the heart are the issues of life. 

Yes, we can do more to get the word out through social media, videos, pamphlets, books, mail-outs, podcasts, traveling representatives, youth rallies, missions trips, etc. However, the question must first be answered by each and every person. “Why do you want to mobilize Christian people as you travel?”

Are you consumed by a desire to see the gospel preached around the whole world so that the lost and dying might know the love of the Savior or are you more concerned with getting your own money and only evangelizing your field of service? Our field is the world and our battle cry and call to arms must ring louder and go farther so that more men and women take up arms to charge into battle! This mobilization effort is to enlist more soldiers to fight on the front lines to win the battle against Satan on every front. 

Many of us think of 2 Timothy 2:2 and want to do what Paul did when he trained and prepared Timothy for leadership, but we have forgotten where Paul got Timothy!

Acts 15:40-16:5

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Paul found Timothy as he was traveling around confirming the churches. He came to Derbe and Lystra and there found a young man who was well reported of by the brethren. Paul wanted Timothy to go forth with him so that Timothy could get the training and preparation to do more for the Lord. 

If we want to do more to mobilize people as we travel around the country preaching and speaking in churches, then we need to have a heart for world evangelism.

Once we can see beyond our own ministries and have God’s heart for the whole world, only then can we begin focusing on the process of what we can do!

Here are some ideas that may stimulate some thoughts of what more can be done to mobilize as you travel:

  • Are you looking for more Timothy’s as you travel to churches?
  • Are you praying for more laborers to be raised up to go into the Lord’s harvest?
  • You are only one conversation away, one piece of literature away, one church meeting away from recruiting a new missionary!
  • Every church has potential missionaries, the Lord might want the pastor to be a missionary or that little 6-year old boy listening to you preach!
  • Why NOT take more literature and pass it out?
  • Why NOT invite more people to our missions events?
  • What if at the end of your time traveling around to churches you left at least 10 new missionaries behind you who are getting training and preparation to serve the Lord?

My dear brethren,

I ask you, “What will you do to recruit and mobilize more missionaries to take the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ around the world?”

The Blessings of Deputation

The Blessings of Deputation

As a young person, God put a desire in my heart to be a missionary. I did not know much about what it meant to be a missionary except that I wanted to tell people about Jesus. Little did I know how much learning I would have to do and how much training I would need, to do the work that God was putting in my heart.

Thankfully, while in Bible college, I had the opportunity to receive some invaluable training in missions from those who were doing the work of missions. This training included how to raise financial support for the work that God was calling us to. This method is what is called deputation.

At first, it seemed daunting and overwhelming – Call thousands of churches! Drive hundreds of thousands of miles! Visit hundreds of churches! Within two years or less! What?! 

What I did not know was how much God was going to bless us through this incredible process and provide us with an amazing support base. A support base that has made it possible for us to serve with confidence for almost two decades on the mission field and with no sign of stopping!

So what are some of the blessings of deputation:

1. Raising prayer support

About 9 months into our time in Northern Ireland, we went through a very scary time that showed us just how much we needed prayer support. My wife Teri was pregnant with our first child. One night, after a late-night time of fellowship with some people in the town, she began to feel some contractions. After a few minutes of waiting, we realized that indeed the baby was coming despite being only 28 weeks along. We rushed to the hospital and five hours later, our son was in an incubator in the Neo-natal intensive care unit. For the next several months, he remained there, while we visited and prayed. Progress was sometimes agonizingly slow, but all along that scary journey we were reminded over and over that hundreds of people were praying for us. 

I remember coming home from the hospital the day after our son was born and checking my email (in those days, email was checked on a computer, not a phone). And there were dozens of emails of people telling us – we are praying for you! Prayer was such an encouragement to us at that time and has been ever since. We have faced many spiritual battles in which there was no physical way to prevail, but God through His people did a work for His honor and glory.

One of the ways such a powerful prayer team was assembled was through meeting thousands of people in hundreds of churches, sharing our burden, giving them our prayer card, asking them to pray, and corresponding with them regularly about what God was doing and what we were asking Him to do. If for no other reason, deputation is a blessing because it raises up an army of prayer warriors who hold the spiritual ropes of the missionary as he goes into the places where Satan has long had a stronghold.

I also remember one night, having a knock at our door. A man with a snooker cue in his hand and alcohol on his breath was furious that his son had come to our children’s club. That night, I thought, “I am going down; this is really going to hurt!” Yet nothing happened. Some men from our church came out. The man backed down and left. And I still had my head attached to my body! I have no doubt that people I met on deputation were praying for me that night. 

We regularly receive emails from people whose faces I have long since forgotten, but who still remember us and say, “We are praying for you!” What a blessing, and we would have nowhere near the same level of prayer support without deputation.

2. Raising awareness of the need for missionaries

Any missionary worth his salt wants more laborers to help him. And deputation is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of the need for laborers. True, it takes several years to raise support, but think of all the people who have surrendered to missions through the preaching/presenting of another missionary.

The night I gave my life to the Lord and surrendered to be a missionary, a missionary to Holland was sharing with our church in a mission conference. His presentation wasn’t anything out of the ordinary really, but the simple truth that people needed to hear about Jesus and someone needed to tell them really hit me. God put a desire in my heart that has continued and that has been affirmed by the church. And I am so grateful for a deputation system that brought missionaries to our church all the time, so I could be challenged to think about how God might use my life.

As you consider deputation, don’t think of it just as a way to get your money as fast as you can. No way! Think of it as an opportunity to present the field of the world to thousands of people, many of whom God wants to lead into missions as well. 

One big emphasis we tried to have on deputation was to recruit young people to attend a missions camp and go on a mission trip. We were able to do that, and, thank the Lord, some of those who went on those trips and attended those camps are in the ministry and on the mission field today.

3. Raising awareness of the respective field you’re going to.

Every missionary is passionate about “their field,” but the field is actually the world. So missionaries should emphasize the needs of the world. But, they also will be asked to talk much about the specific field to which they are going.

This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the needs of the missionary’s field. The missionary can talk about the population, the religious (or non-religious) makeup, the history, the culture, the opportunities, and the challenges. Sometimes, there are misunderstandings and myths that need to be dispelled. 

Deputation is not only the process whereby you are an ambassador of churches to your field, but whereby you can be an ambassador from your country to the churches. In our case, as missionaries to Ireland and the UK, we were able to educate people about the great gospel need in a place that has had lots of religion and even been missionary-sending countries themselves. Such is not the case now. Britain is essentially a pagan nation. There are many church buildings and even places of worship, but very, very few are Biblical, healthy, or alive. Most preach either no gospel, a false gospel, or are almost dead. Deputation gives us an opportunity to share this need with them.

4. Meeting other missionaries and pastors and reaping from their experiences.

Deputation is a great training ground for missionaries. One of the ways missionaries learn and grow on deputation is by having the opportunity to meet hundreds of other missionaries and pastors. In the context of these encounters, they get to hear stories of God’s provision and power. They get to make friends and see different ideas that maybe can be useful on the mission field. They also get to see that God often uses unlikely people in unlikely places to do big things.

Just the other day, we were talking about some challenges we face on the mission field, and another missionary on our team shared a couple of stories from churches he visited. These stories reminded us that God can work no matter our situation. He talked about a pastor whose church grew because he was involved in the community and another who won lots of people to Christ through being involved with his children’s sports teams. These inspired us to think about how we could get more involved in our community.

Deputation provides missionaries with a wealth of experience, contacts, ideas, and resources. They will need to be able to think creatively and sometimes outside the box to solve problems on the mission field, to get to the mission field, and to succeed on the mission field. Deputation can really cultivate a treasure-trove of ideas the missionary can use for future ministry.

5. Learning to live by faith

Missions is a faith endeavor. Even if you have a “guaranteed” salary or missionary support each month, it still takes faith to be a missionary. You have to believe that God is going to use you. You have to believe that You are going to be able to afford all the costs of overseas travel and living. You have to believe that the work can be done even when you are discouraged and frustrated. It all takes faith.

Starting out on deputation when you have no income, no savings, no resources, and no support is a great opportunity to prove the power and provision of God. Hudson Taylor talked about getting answers to prayer long before he went to China, and missionaries need to do the same. 

I remember when my wife and I were in Bible college. We had just gotten married. I had one year left of studies. All we had to our name was a car, a laptop, a rent payment on a small apartment, and God. Sometimes, we would set out on a trip not knowing if we would have the money to purchase the gas to the church and back. Sometimes, all we could afford to eat was a couple items on the value menu. But we never went hungry, we never suffered need of any kind, and God always took care of us.

Now that we are on the mission field, our bills are much bigger than just car fuel. We just completed a building fund-raising project of over $100,000. That was scary and some probably thought we were a bit crazy. But God taught us we can live by faith. And we continue to see that He takes care of us, no matter what we are facing. Deputation is a great way for the missionary to develop faith.

6. Growing your people skills

My pastor still tells new missionaries how worried he was for me when I started deputation. His main concern – I was too shy to talk to people. Literally, my face would turn several shades of red just by someone saying my name in a group. I had that much social anxiety.

Enter deputation. How in the world was I going to raise support for our ministry if I did not talk to people. How would people know us and care about what we were doing if I did not talk to them. So I learned early on that I was going to have to force myself to talk to people, to ask questions, and to engage with people.

And nearly every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and often an off-night, shy Travis was walking into a new church and meeting new people. That was the best thing for me and my family because guess what it takes to start a church? Meeting new people, taking an interest in them, and being able to get on with others.

Deputation was a huge help to me in learning how to talk with people from many different cultures, walks of life, and situations. 

7. Giving opportunity to minister and serve others

The ministry should really be that – ministering to the Lord by serving others. Deputation is a great testing ground of your servant’s heart. There are times you have to put up with less than desirable accommodation, times you have to exercise patience with circumstances that are out of your control. There are times you don’t feel well, but still have to travel and serve. 

All of the stresses and challenges that come from travel, new environments, new places, new people (even new dialects) are vital experiences for a cross-cultural missionary. Missionaries have to develop a real servant’s heart, to humbly listen, care, bless, and minister day in and day out. Deputation helps prepare missionaries to be servants.

8. Building a base of supporters for future needs

The Bible is very clear that the responsibility of getting the gospel to the world rests on everyone in the church, not just those who go as missionaries. God has always had those who went and those who sent. In Ezra, some were stirred up to go build the temple; others remained and were told to support them. In Acts, the missionaries went and the church sent and supported.

So missionaries should not apologize for expecting God’s people to support them. And deputation is a great way to expose churches to the work that God has put in your heart and to let churches get involved in that work. Generally speaking, we have found people who love the Lord are excited to help those who want to do something for God.

Deputation is an amazing way to raise a robust and diverse support base that withstands the test of time, pastoral changes, and even church closures. One criticism of deputation is how long it takes missionaries to raise their support. They have to go to “so many churches” and these churches support for “so little.” Granted, it would be good for churches to evaluate the amounts they give to their missionaries to cut down on the number of churches they need, but consider the benefits of being supported by many churches for relatively small amounts:

  • First, it means that if one church is unable to continue to support you, it does not cause a great dip in the missionary’s overall support level. If a missionary is supported by a few very large donors, the moment one of them stops, he either has to return to raise more support or he greatly suffers.
  • Second, it allows lots of people to get in on the work you are doing. Each church becomes a stakeholder in the work. Churches that support lots of missionaries get in on the fruit of the ministry.
  • Third, it allows you to raise good solid support. Far too many missionaries go to the field under-supported and really struggle as families and in the ministry because they don’t have enough support. By going to lots of churches, it enables the pressure to rest on lots of churches to get the missionary to the field and the missionary can raise adequate support to do more than just survive.

9. Benefiting your family

Another criticism of deputation is the strain and stress on the family. Certainly it can be tiring to travel from church to church and be under a microscopic lens at each church, but consider the other side. Deputation prepares the family to deal with flexibility, travel, and pressure. The mission field will only magnify that pressure, so deputation is a training ground.

Deputation does put pressure on the family, but it also provides for lots of time together as a family. Most missionary families are very close because they have had to learn to rely on each other through lots of transition and change. Sometimes the only constant thing in your life is your immediate family, and so deputation can prepare the family to work as a team to do the Lord’s work. 

10. Growing you as a preacher

Deputation is a great opportunity for the missionary to learn how to preach and communicate. A big part of his ministry is sharing with people about the work and answering questions. The skills of communication and preaching are essential for the mission field. Often missionaries have to learn a new language, so if they at least know how to preach and communicate, it is one less challenge to get their message across.

Deputation provides hundreds of opportunities to give short presentations, longer sermons, question and answers, and everything in between. These experiences are valuable tools for ministry on the field.

11. Testing the missionary

Deputation is a proving ground. Certainly, no church should send out an unqualified missionary, but even then, not everyone who desires to be a missionary should be a missionary. As the missionary faces the challenges of hard work, travel, working with people, presenting and preaching, sometimes he finds the challenge too much. Or churches do not sense that he is gifted for the work. 

It can be really hard when hard-working, genuine people do not raise their support. But it can be a blessing in disguise. It might save them from more frustration on the mission field. It would be better for them to realize that maybe their gifts are better suited elsewhere before they get to the mission field. As harsh as it sounds, deputation has a way of weaning out those who may not be committed or gifted for the work. 

12. Teaching patience and seeing God work

Related to number five above, deputation teaches the missionary patience and about how God works. It can be very frustrating to call, work, travel, and preach and not see support come in. Months can go by and your support plateaus. You begin to wonder what is going on, what have you done wrong, what is God doing? You pray. You seek the Lord. You wait, and then one month your support goes up ten percent! Now you praise God. You trust God. You thank God, and you learn patience and that it is the Lord who does the work.

In many ways, that is the same as doing missions work. You preach, you pray, you witness, you distribute literature, you visit, you wait, and nothing happens. So you go again, and again nothing happens. You keep going, you want to give up, you beg God. You complain to God. You get mad at God. You are reminded in the Bible that God is at work. You wait and then one day three people walk into your church on the snowiest Sunday morning of the year. You were about to throw in the towel and God said, “I’m not done; I still have plans!” That happened to us in Northern Ireland, and I am grateful for all the experiences leading up to our time there that helped us develop patience and trust in how the Lord works or we would have given up sooner.

No doubt there are other blessings and benefits, but I hope these have wet your appetite and taken away the fear of “DEPUTATION.” Deputation can be just another step in the journey of God preparing His servants, His churches and His people for the work. If you have a positive and excited attitude and if you are prepared to work hard, it can be such a blessing and the way that God provides for you to do the work He has put in your heart! My family and I are still reaping the blessings and the benefits of our time on deputation many years ago!

Player or Coach?

Player or Coach?

When I was younger, and even now, I have always liked to play sports. I started off with T ball at our local Ruritan Club, and then went on to play football and soccer when I was in high school. Even now I play soccer on a regular basis, although I usually can’t walk for a few days afterwards. One of the things that I remember about all the sports that I played was that we always had a coach and the coach always showed us what to do and how to play. That was his job and ours was to do what he said and play the game the best that we could. I have noticed a huge similarity between these two positions in sports, and one of two positions that many take when it comes to the ministry. Many, if not most, are more like a player. They are in the game, doing the work, preaching, teaching, visiting, and just about any other job that comes up. On the other hand there is a  small group of people who are more like coaches, that focus on showing and training others how to do ministry. While both of these positions and ideas are important, I have found out that as a missionary, and maybe in the ministry in general, it may not be as easy as choosing which position you are going to play.
One of the things that has become very obvious to me since I arrived in Bolivia is that ministry, done correctly, is a lot of work. Not only that, but as a missionary you are basically playing two different positions at the same time. As our ministry has begun to grow and advance, I find myself needing to spend more and more time as a coach, meeting with new pastors that we have, and even some of the Bible college students that are preparing for the ministry. The difficulty is that I can’t just do just one or the other. I have to continue being a player as we start the new church, and coach as more and more pastors are being prepared for the ministry. This is a great challenge but a great joy at the same time and really what the ministry is all about. Our ultimate goal with the church that we are starting, is to have people trained that can can take over those responsibilities but even when that happens, we will be looking at starting all over again. As these responsibilities continue to grow more and more, I have had to learn a few important lessons to be able to do both. Not that I am perfect at it, or even that it has gotten easier, but here are a few things that might help.

Plan your Time Well
I have heard the story many times and even experienced it, you spend all day long working and even though you are very busy, at the end of the day you don’t have much to show for your work. It seems as if you haven’t accomplished anything. One of the keys to overcome this, is to plan your time and tasks well. You should have a schedule with specific times that you are going to dedicate to getting your work done. The other key aspect to this plan is to schedule to do the right things, or most important things. At the end of the day you should take some time to look at your calendar, and to do list, and choose two or three of the most important things that you need to get done and plan a time that you are going to get them done the next day. If you don’t accomplish anything else, you can feel accomplished that you got those things done and made progress towards your goals.

Focus on Whats Most Important
There are many things that are important and need to be done in the church but the key is to focus on what is most important.
For example, visiting the sick is very important, but spending time with a future pastor might be a better investment. Someone has to clean and decorate the church but if someone else can do it, you might be better off to have a training time for teachers. When it seems like you have more to do than you can get done, you should invest your time in the things that will give the best return on your investment. If you focus on the work of a player you might be able to win people one by one but if you spend time training someone to reach others then the process turns into multiplication.

Never Loose Sight of Your Purpose
As missionaries, even though we have to do the work of a pastor as we start a church, we should never loose touch with our main purpose. Our main goal as missionaries is to train pastors and leaders, not be pastors. One of the dangers that every missionary faces is to get caught up with all the activities and responsibilities of the church and forget about training leaders and pastors. When you first start a church there is a great desire to see the church grow. You can spend a lot of time trying to get people to come to church, visiting them, and calling them, all of which are good things, but the only problem is that the church does not really begin to grow until we teach our people to reach others and train leaders to train others. So when we focus on that which is most important, we will be able to accomplish both of these tasks, but in a more effective way. So don’t get caught up being just a player or just a coach but as you do both, focus on the most important things which is preparing others to serve the Lord.

Kevin White
Missionary to Bolivia
www.operationbolivia.com