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.
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.
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.
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.
We desire To get the proclamation of the gospel all across the world by this generation. There are some “ifs” that must first take place in order for us to see this. Let’s look at these “IFs” below:
If we are willing to obey and determined to do the task— If we would take it seriously that we are commanded to go and determine to obey the command to take the gospel, the world could be reached in this generation.
If we seriously desire it, we can send people to every country— If we had a sincere desire to do, so we could send missionaries all around the world to each and every country.
If we are united in a resolve to see the world reached— Just like the church at Pentecost, they were unified together and saw the gospel go forth. If we could rally behind the Great Commission and getting the gospel to the world, we could see it reached!
If we are willing to give— So few people see the need or are willing to give towards missions. If we stepped up our giving and did more, we could see more money raised for the sake of seeing the world reached with the gospel. Instead of giving to missions, we would rather have our fancy gadgets and $5 coffee while people die and go to hell!
If the need is properly promoted— We would see more laborers raised, more people sent and more money given. Most people don’t know of the need in the world because it has never been properly promoted.
If we properly trained people— Not only would they be willing to give money because they have be raised and trained to give, but also, they would have the mindset and mentality that the whole purpose of the church is to reach the world with the gospel. This would cause more people to desire to go and they would be properly trained to do the work!
If we do our duty— Then within the next 10 years we could and would see an increase in giving to missions, more people giving their lives to missions and thousands upon thousands coming to Christ, because we did our duty as servants of Christ!
If we are what we ought to be— Then only a few years would pass before everyone in the whole world would be reached with the gospel.
The sad reality is, many of these “ifs” will remain “ifs” because we will never take seriously the command of Christ and realize we can reach the world with the gospel in this generation. If we get rid of the “ifs” and starting making them a practice, the world would be reached with the gospel! So, what are you going to do to get rid of these “ifs” in your life and in your church?
The New Key to the Missionary Problem: Using Organizations to Motivate
In most churches, today, there are organizations for everything. People are a part of some group or club. Why can’t we tap into these organizations and push the need for missions. Why can’t we create organizations in the church for the purpose of promoting missions in the church. We have the tools at our disposal already. Why aren’t we using them to help fix the missionary problem in the world today? Let’s look at some ways our churches can use organizations to promote missions.
Sunday School— Sunday School, small groups, Bible studies, life groups the list goes on, but it is all still the same. Many churches still have some form of Bible teaching that would be called Sunday School or whatever your church chooses to call it. This is such a great opportunity to mobilize and talk about the need for missions. Get each class interested in missionaries, countries and needs around the world. Each class could even take mission trips together! What a great way to show the need around the world! By using Sunday School, we can use an organization that is, largely, still in most churches to promote and raise up people towards missions. If your church doesn’t have a Sunday School, why not start it back up and use it as not only a means to evangelize and grow your church, but also, to help show the need of the gospel in the world?
Kids’ clubs— Most churches have some sort of kids’ program they run each week. Why aren’t we taking the time to talk to kids about the purpose of the church and the need for laborers to give their lives to missions! You could even keep the same program you are currently using but add time or places where you talk about missionaries, missions, countries and the need of the gospel in the world! Or maybe someone could create a kids’ program that is totally focused on missions! We could use this to help kids not only see the need in the world, but also see that God could use them to get the gospel to people who have never heard!
Teen group— Again, another organization in the church we could use to mobilize more missionaries is the teen group. Today, these have become more about fun and games and teaching kids to be moral than about discipling teens to give their lives to Christ. What if we changed from just social issues and games to including and promoting missions in our teen groups! What if it was at the forefront of everything your youth group did? As these young people saw missions and the command to go and the need for people to go, they would be compelled to give their lives to missions. But too often, we are just trying to help kids become faithful-attending and giving adults, rather than helping to solve the great missionary problem in the world today.
Prayer Bands— Why can’t churches create missions prayer bands?These are groups that get together to pray for missionaries that the church supports, as well as, praying over the countries of the world. What a great way to help put missions at the forefront of your people!
Mission organizations— Why also, couldn’t churches create a missions organization in their church that their whole purpose was to help show the need in the world and help their church send out more missionaries? What a great way to get people involved, but also help people to see the great need around the world!
In churches today, we have so many organizations and clubs. Why don’t we tap into these already existing programs and use them to help raise up more laborers and show the need to our people? Why not also start more and new organizations in churches that their whole focus is to promote world evangelism and help reach the world with the gospel? If we could rally together these organizations, we would start seeing a rise in new missionaries and the missionary problem begin to be fixed!
The New Key to the Missionary Problem Part 2: Lack of Missions Writing
As we desire to see a renewed zeal in missions and sending of missionaries, we are going to need to see an increase of writing and showing of the need. As a whole, there are many books about missions, but not enough. There are not enough blog articles, social media posts, and books about missions going on today. Instead of focusing on writing about missions and the need in the world, we focus on arguing doctrine and theology. Although both of these subjects are, most assuredly, needful to write about, why do we spend so much time writing about opinions and not enough time writing about the whole mission of the church, which is missions? If we keep Christians informed about missions and the need, it will help fuel the fire of new missionary endeavors. So what kind of writing needs to be done?
Simple writing about missions— This can be books or blog posts, but just write the basic need for more missionaries and why we are to go.
Steps people can take— People look at missions and wish they could do it, but there is never a path laid out for them to take to become a missionary. We need people who are or have been missionaries, to write about steps people can take on their journey to missions!
Information about countries— We need people willing to write not just facts about countries but about the need in those countries. The sad reality is that most Christians only know a little bit about other countries. What is even more sad, is missionaries only know a little about a handful of countries. We need people to spend time giving information about countries and helping to show the need in those countries. In the past, missions mobilizers would travel the world and write about their experiences and needs in the countries they visited. In the day and age we live, we should be doing this and getting the information about all countries of the world! Then as people see the need, God can work in their hearts to direct them to all the countries of the world!
Process of missions— This would be from the basic things needed to advance training, but we need people who have lived on the field and done missions to write books about things that work and don’t work. To help guide and direct future missionaries, as they go forward on deputation, to language learning, to church planting even up to the point of leaving the field as God leads you. We need this to help us know what to do and help direct new missionaries as they go through each of these milestones in their missions life.
There could be many more things about missions that need to be written about. But the truth is, we need more people writing on and about missions. If we are to fix the missionary problem then we must see more writing on and about missions!
Andrew Murray penned The Key to the Missionary Problem, originally in 1902. As I read the book several times, I began to realize that his book still rings true today and wanted to write about the keys to our missionary problem, today. Today there is still a great need in the world; even greater than in Murray’s day. In the world today, getting to the field and taking the gospel to the whole world is easier than it has ever been before and yet, we still have not completed the command of our Lord! The problem still rises that while yes, missionaries are still going and being called, it is not enough! There is a missionary crisis that lies in each and every church, and in these articles, we will dig down deeper into the problems and solutions. Yes, people are going, but we need even more to go today than ever before and yet, fewer and fewer people are giving their lives to go. Will you join me in praying that we will see a fix to the missionary problem in the world and church, today! We will be looking at how the church can be awakened to know and obey the command of God to get the gospel to the whole world.
The Passcode to the Missionary Problem Part 1: It Starts at the Top!
If there is to be a renewed missions zeal in our church, it should start with the pastor. The pastor is the leader of the church and if our churches are going to be led back to bringing missions to the forefront, the pastor must lead his church that way. A pastor must have a passion and zeal for seeing the world reached with he gospel. If he doesn’t, then a missionary zeal will not be found in a church. A pastor must preach that God desires the world to be reached with the gospel! If a pastor does not have a vision to see the Great Commission fulfilled, then the church will have a hard time sending missionaries and doing their part to reach the world with the gospel. So, how can a pastor help stir up a missions zeal and fix the missionary problem in his church?
His preaching—If a pastor does not preach about missions and the true mission of the church to get the gospel to the ends of the earth, then his people will not catch the spirit and heart of missions. Most messages a pastor preaches should, in some way, point people to the need in the world and their responsibility to do something about it. If pastors preach more on missions, then the missionary problem will begin to be fixed in our churches today!
His teaching— Each pastor should be teaching others in his church. He should be equipping the next generation of preachers and missionaries from his own church. Through his teaching, he can teach others to have a heart and passion to see the world reached with the gospel. All Christians should be involved in discipleship at some point, but a pastor should be doing more to raise up young people to give their lives to ministry and even more to missions. As the pastor teaches, he can show, through the Bible, the great need of getting the gospel to the world!
His life— If a pastor has a missions-minded heart, his people will see that in how he lives. He will put missions at the forefront of his life. This will mean he will be in interested in taking trips to the mission field. He will be a big giver towards missions. He will bring missionaries into his church and will keep missions and missionaries in front of his church. If a pastor truly sees that the purpose of the church is missions, he will live it out in his life. He will be out sharing the gospel and discipling others so that he can train them to go and take the gospel to the ends of the earth! If a pastor lives his life with missions at the forefront, the people of his church will see it and try to live their lives the same way!
Pastors in churches today are a major key to the missionary problem. If they get a heart and have a passion to see the world reached with the gospel, it will pour out in their churches. As it pours out in their churches, their people will respond, missionaries will be sent out and the world can be reached with the gospel! So Pastor, it starts with you. That doesn’t excuse others from doing what they can, even if their pastor is not on board but it does mean, as a pastor, you have more responsibility to help raise the missionary sprit in our churches!
Well, it looks like the title did its job. Some of you may have followed the title here to learn about aliens, others wondering why I am referring to a term by Karl Marx. A few of you know that if I am writing I am writing with the desire to help you as you do your job in sending, in regards to foreign missions. Let’s jump in and talk about the second two.
Recently I read about Karl Marx’s “Theory of Alienation.” Obviously I am not a communist, socialist, or (whatever you think proceeds this). At times I find entertainment in seeing how philosophers “discover” truth about us, humans, that is taught clearly in Scripture, and how people are amazed by their findings. He said, “Alienation is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his and her humanity.” You probably didn’t find that extremely helpful, nor did I, but let me break it down in some good ol’ country vernacular for you. If you work on the assembly line but never get a chance to see the final product, you will get discouraged.
Even though, you may not have known this term, I am certain you have felt this frustration. You have toiled in a ministry, with a group or people, or on a project and started to wonder if what you were doing was making a difference. You may have gone down that slippery slope that Asaph told us about in Psalm 73. You are wondering why the wicked prosper, and you are having such a difficult time.
You may have never considered this but the New Testament has many examples of people coming to report to other believers about how God has been faithful! In Acts 14 you see Paul and Barnabas in a wonderful season of ministry. After Paul and Barnabas had seen many wonderful things they “gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them. And there they abode long time with the disciples.” You will see this as a recurring theme in the New Testament. Acts 11:22,
Wonderful things happen when people get together and “rehearse all that God has done.”
Everyone acknowledges Who deserves the credit for all that has been done. God is glorified. Acts 21:20
Those listening and encouraged in the fact that they are involved in is really making a difference. Saints encouraged. Acts 15:3
More people have a desire to get involved. Workers are recruited. Acts 11:22
It is the goal of the enemy to try to cause disunity between us. Rev 12:10 Jesus prayed for our unity. John 17:23 We are unified together as we serve together in the mission given to us! We should work diligently to remind others that we are in this together! Testimony services are a great way to see this happen.
An Unhelpful Division
Let’s take a trip in the Old Testament to see an example of people making a decision to try to alienate themselves from their God-given mission. Joshua 22 gives us the Paul Harvey “rest of the story” of the happenings of Numbers 32. The children of Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Mannesah decided they would be satisfied to stay on the side of the Jordan River that did not require blood-shed to gain. Moses, in one of his last actions of life, told them that wouldn’t fly. When we get to Joshua those same tribes felt the need to build an altar. The other 9 1/2 tribes declared war on them and told them they did not need to build an altar that one they had would do jus fine. Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Mannesah explained they wanted an altar because they wanted the future generations to know that even though they didn’t live in the Promise Land they were still part of the children of Israel. We see later in the Bible that this was a legitimate concern. 1 Kings 22:3 (take note of the question mark)
We often try to chance the historical account of an event to justify our current poor decisions . Those of you who are married and honest know what I am talking about. God has given all the tribes a lot of land to claim, so the all should be involved in the battle. In Joshua 22:25 “For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the Lord: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the Lord.” Yes, it is true that God made the Jordan River. Yes, it is true that rivers are natural divides between those on opposite sides. It was not true, however, that God desired to have them divided into their mission. They were all supposed to be involved. They felt alienated from the other tribes so they built an altar to be a “witness” to the fact they are of them!
We often do the same things inside of our churches. This can be seen on many levels, but it can be easily seen in the way people view missionaries and those who do not go to the foreign field. We often accuse God of making a division He did not make. Yes, it is truly different roles to be played but we are both to be on the same mission. Many people feel like they are part of the church but on the outside edges. They feel alienated from the mission of the church. When people are amused by the ministries of our church but feel alienated from the mission of the church, we have a problem.
Those of us who serve in sending in missions have the responsibility of helping remind everyone in the church that we are in this mission together. This is true unity. This is what Jesus was praying for in John 17, not that we agree on the carpet color in the new Family Life Building.
Getting people together to “rehearse all that God has done” is a wonderful and God-ordained way we promote unity in our church. I would like to give some practical applications to how this can help you, your church and missionaries, in not feeling alienated in the work. This helps keep us from the frustration of being involved in a process and never getting to see the product.
Encourage missionaries, when they visit your church, to share testimonies about Godly people in their church that have influenced them along the way.. This helps encourages all those who work in children’s ministry to see how God has used other children workers to help raise missionaries.
Consider asking the missionaries who will be visiting your church to give you the names of the people who have influenced them in their lives. Take some time and write them letters expressing your appreciation for the work they have done. This will encourage them in the work of the Lord.
Allow people to share their testimonies in your Sunday School classes. It does the heart good for people to tell you about how God has used “average people” to make above-average impact in their lives.
Missionaries that will read this, I encourage to thank the people you meet along the way by name. You should work at reminding them of the role they are playing in helping get you to the field. “Rehearse” your stories with them and let them know that they shared in the work and will share in the reward with you!
Right now take a few minutes to make a list of people who have been used of God in your life to help cultivate a love for Jesus in your life! Do those people know how appreciative you are of how they ministered to you?
So here is the “missions theory of alienation.” When people inside of the church work and give but never get to hear “great things God has done” it can become disheartening. One of the best ways to encourage people to get involved in the work of the Lord is to have stories shared with them reminding them of how their lives are making a real difference! Think about these things next time you are given an opportunity to share a testimony, give a report, share a praise, or “rehearse all God has done.” God could use your life to help encourage someone in the fact that what they are doing is making a difference!
People often feel “alienated” from the work of the Lord. There are two different categories of people who feel this way. You should work at lovingly, confront both of these groups with truth.
There is the group who is working diligently in the things that matter in life and they could use some encouragement! You could do this by sharing with them a report of God working in your life!
There are some who have decided that wanted to be counted among God’s people but they are more than okay with their “brethren going to war” as they sit here. Those people need to be exhorted!