Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Support a Missionary!
I grew up in a church where the foreign missions ministry was ALWAYS talked about. Even as a child, I was taught to pray for missionaries. Although missionary work was valued where I grew up, I never saw the value in supporting foreign missions when there was plenty to do on the local level. My thought process was that I can’t support people I do not know, and they don’t know me. I would much rather minister to people I can see and sit down with than people half way across the globe doing something I know little about. Now that I’m a bit older, and hopefully wiser, I’m recognizing the extreme value of supporting foreign missions.
Before I share my thoughts, I’d like to begin by stating that any support for missions (whether local or foreign) should never be forced or coerced. Financial, logistical and prayerful support often comes from a move of the Holy Spirit in asking people to provide some necessary means for missionaries. So, please receive the following reasons to support missionaries as something to pray about and seek our Heavenly Father for more answers and guidance. Since the Lord loves cheerful givers, never do anything out of guilt or forced obligation. Rather support them through love.
Reasons why I would encourage supporting missionaries:
* We understand it’s a higher calling! Every missionary is called. There are areas in the world without the real and tangible gospel of Jesus. People in that area need the gospel, and God needs willing believers to minister to them so they will know His heart better. Thus, missionaries need honor and respect from us.
* We understand their struggles! Missionaries do the kind of dirty work that not many other people want. They have a special calling because they must count the cost before moving in the direction God desires of them. When God calls people to be missionaries, he essentially requests of them to give up everything they know for the sake of the people who need the gospel. He asks them to leave behind their culture, their jobs, their way of life, etc, even to leave behind family. [Please note here that I am NOT referring to spouses and young children. Marriage and parenthood are roles God ordained and will not ask anyone to break the vow of marriage or the responsibility as a parent.] So, leaving behind all that you know and adapt to a different culture is extremely difficult. Thus, they need our mercy, encouragement and prayers.
* We understand our responsibility! My husband and I had a conversation one evening about foreign missions, and what happens when a church sends missionaries. He had a very good analogy that is so fitting to why we should support missionaries. Since my husband has an Air Force background, he explained to me that there must be at least 200 personnel on the ground for every plane that takes off. These 200 personnel are responsible for ensuring the mission runs smoothly. See how that relates to missions? For every missionary the church sends, there MUST be a great support system. Missionaries need money, supplies, food, basic necessities, etc. So in the grand scheme of things, we are ALL responsible for ensuring our missionaries are provided for.
* We also reap the benefits! To explain this better, 1 Samuel 30 offers a view into how God sees this. In this story, David’s army destroys the Amalekites. Two hundred men were too exhausted to cross the Besor Ravine, so they stayed behind to guard the supplies. When the remaining 400 won the battle, they did not want to share the plunder with the 200 who stayed behind. David explained to the 400 why this way of thinking is not wise, and said, “All will share alike.” So, whether we are out in the mission field or staying home to support them, we ALL reap the benefits!
My love for missionaries grows by the day. Even though the Lord has not (yet) called me into foreign missions, I’m more than willing to help missionaries in whatever means are accessible to me. Who knows, the Lord may be preparing my heart for missions as he teaches me the value of supporting them from THIS side of the ministry. May your heart be full of God's love, and may he show you the fullness of his love for missionaries.