MOBILIZING AND TRAINING MISSIONARIES
Excerpts from a KEEPING IN TOUCH e-newsletter from Emmaus Road, International <Neal_Pirolo@eri.org> http://www.eri.org
...The one-location "Jungle Camp" that Wycliffe used in past years has been replaced with area-sensitive training locations around the world. Three years ago the Americas Branch chose Emmaus Road's ACTS 29 Training Course as their prefield training. Thus, all WBT/SIL members assigned to the Americas join us in January or August for the 10-week program. We regard it a privilege of highest honor to provide this training for them...
On the very last afternoon I was given an opportunity to share... After a brief introduction of our previous involvement with Wycliffe (two years of teaching missionary children in Peru and two+ years of administering an SIL school in Brazil), I shared three broad strokes of concern. Though addressed in the context of missions, I believe they are "closet-work" considerations for all Christians --whatever our areas of ministry. May I name them--briefly?
1) "Do you love us? Or are you here to get a job done?" At a very crucial point in our time in Brazil, this question was asked of us by a Brazilian. Rather, it was made as a statement! And there was no doubt on which side of the question she thought we fell. Our efficiency-focused, production-minded work ethic can often get in the way of our ministry of love. May we all--in our servant-heart ministry--keep foremost the reflecting of His love. It is the more excellent way.
2) Christianity was birthed in an Eastern culture, conceptual in its thought processing. The line between the secular and the sacred was almost imperceptible. Salvation was a total lifestyle change! However, it was soon overcome by the linear logic of the Greeks and Romans. Without getting overly historical, in time we came to see the world of our physical senses as the "real" world, separate and distinct from that which is the "spiritual" world. At its extreme it produces the "Sunday Christian!" And makes it easy for us to question anything of the supernatural realm that cannot be explained in material terms. Or, if we accept the "unseen" mystical world as a (possible) reality, we see little or no interplay between the two worlds. Rather, may we see that the spiritual interposes itself and dominates all of life--that the spiritual is the essence--the true reality of time and eternity. That, miracle though it be, God is aware of every thought of every one of His 6,000,000,000+ created people. He, who attends the funeral of every sparrow, cares for you and me.
3) Ethnocentrism--the world of one--ME! Or it may include my organization or my church or my country. Spirited by pride, we come to believe "anything you can do, I can do better!" At its worse, wars are fought. At its best, any thoughts of cooperation are ignored. At the core of Jesus' prayer in John 17, He pleaded for the unity He knew would be necessary to accomplish His purposes. Today the term is "strategic partnerships." Allowing each entity to maintain its distinctive, cooperating agencies can utilize the expertise of another. (This differs from the business world where conglomerates buy up competition.)...
THE NEXT STEP
...Statistics (as well as our experiences of the past 25 years) have shown us that most "missionaries" are lost before they are ever called a missionary! Challenged by Scripture, a speaker, a movie, or a conference, one may sense God's call to minister cross-culturally. Yet, without the clearly written "next steps", he can easily be drawn back into the busyness of life without having ever pursued God's call... Have you been challenged to a greater involvement in missions? Have you been left wondering what next step you might take? Whatever your exposure to missions has been, we would encourage you to prayerfully consider which of these seven "Next Steps" the Lord might want you to take. And each is just an initial step--with a whole pathway of steps to follow. ERI is prepared to help you along whichever path you choose...
1) "Whoa! Missions is NOT for me!" It took me a long time to acknowledge that this is a legitimate next step. There are those who say, "You are either a missionary or a mission field." In a broader sense I would say, "We are all to minister and recognize our need to be ministered unto." In this context, though, I have come to believe that there are many in the body of Christ whose part in the total functioning of the Body has nothing to do with missions. And, if one comes to that conclusion, fine. However, we are then quick to help them pursue what part of Body ministry God does have for them! I will admit, though, there is a greater thrill in my heart if one of the remaining "next steps" is chosen.
2) "When can we go again!" Some sense that the limit of their involvement in missions is regular short-term ministry trips. Once a year (or more often) they will take a few weeks to share Christ's love in some culturally-relevant way.
3) "I would like to lead short-term trips!" After one has gone on several short-term trips, it is a good possibility to begin leading those trips. Working with the churches of the participants, the leader plans the trip, prepares the team through prefield training, leads the trip, and does the follow through with the churches and participants.
4) "Saw a lot of hurting long-term missionaries. Is there any way to help them?" Yes, there is! Paul, the Apostle, made it clear that a missionary CANNOT be effective on the field without a total intensive care unit. (Check out Romans 10:13-15 for the King James translation of the preceding!) For every one on the front line of battle (and the mission field is a battlefield), there are to be a minimum of nine supporting that one. But this is the theme of my book, Serving As Senders, so I had better not get going here!)
5) "Is our church aware of the world of missions?" There are some who can best serve the cause of global evangelization by mobilizing their local church. Serving on the missions committee, making sure the Sunday School includes missions curriculum, having a missions display in the foyer--just a map of the world titled, "Where in the world is our first missionary?"
6) "Three weeks was great! But I am interested in the long haul!" Paul, the Apostle, was a short-term missionary! He never stayed in one place more than two and one-half years! He just made a career out of it! And today, there are valid short-term commitments that could last for a career as well as locating in one area for a longer term. The world of cross-cultural ministry is as diverse, exciting and challenging as it has ever been. Maybe more! The needs are there. It take spiritual insight to turn those needs into an opportunity for you to minister in Jesus' Name.
7) "Since I have been home, all I can see are internationals!" Yes, God has brought to the doorstep of every church in America the internationals of the world. There are living in every city, town and hamlet in America, internationals of at least eight distinct categories. They are open; they are vulnerable; they are souls for whom Christ died. Having been exposed to the world of missions, the next step is to take this list into your closet of prayer and ask God to show you which of the seven next steps is for you...