There are days we find it challenging to explain what we do and how it fits in the overall picture of planting churches among the world’s unreached peoples of the world. Since we are not serving in a foreign country and are not involved in church planting, how is it that what we do really matters? Is what we do making a significant contribution to the work of church planting? I sometimes find it a curious question. How would a church function if the only person they paid was the pastor? The church we attend here in the states has a large paid staff including musicians who lead worship, people who oversee volunteers, those working with youth, those providing technical expertise, and those who teach small groups and provide counseling. If it is OK for the church to use support staff why doesn’t the same principle apply in missions?
With the immensity of the tasks facing missionaries, it is difficult to think of someone doing everything oneself especially if they are living in a developing world country. It is common for missions who have support staff overseas to receive requests to assist missionaries from those mission organizations or churches that send missionaries abroad that do not supply or believe in sending support staff.
Jill and I have spent much of our missionary career helping to provide support staff so church planters can freely give themselves to the rigorous task of learning an unwritten language and new culture. That in itself is intense work. They must begin developing and teaching Bible lessons, literacy courses and Bible translation so a mature church can be established. Often all of this is done in a location without the conveniences we are accustomed to here in the US.
Recently I received an encouraging email from a missionary who is now on the field as a Bible Translator. Prior to beginning her ministry she served as a support missionary, a nurse. She wrote, “Ah yes, I spent four years trying to convince my home church of the importance of support missionaries without success. I’ve decided that the most committed people to tribal missions are the support workers living here on this center. It is definitely a vital role. Thank you for the role you play!”
Our hearts overflow with gratitude for those of you who are a part of our team. You are also members of the support team and a constant encouragement to us. We truly are one body with many gifts and vocations working together for the purpose of making much of Jesus.
We have been working with short term volunteers who have served as nannies, home school helpers and other positions. This has allowed moms to spend needed time in culture & language learning and proved much needed extra hands and feet for our missionaries. Here is a testimony of one of the gals:
” I never dreamed 4 months in Asia-Pacific would change my life, but it did. When I first arrived and I was asked if I was interested in becoming a missionary, I told them no….After my time there, I could no longer live in the states and enjoy my life when I now knew people living and dying in darkness because no one bothered to tell them the truth. God was preparing me all along for ministry I just didn’t see it until I decided to spend a few months in the jungle teaching 2 missionary children.”
In the body of Christ we know we are designed for interdependence. Despite all the ways we can fail one another, we need one another as we move forward in our spiritual lives. Our boys, now young men in Christ are learning how important they are to each other and how much more is accomplished with others than just themselves.
We too are constantly reminded of the importance of functioning within the body of Christ. It is God’s vessel chosen to magnify Jesus to the world. In all we do at the office we do to serve the local church. We assist people to find either training or a place to serve so they can move toward greater involvement in expanding the reach of the gospel to unreached peoples. Jesus is worthy of the worship of all peoples. It has been demonstrated that the most receptive people to the gospel are those who have yet to hear it. Contrary to what most people think, it takes a long time to communicate the gospel to least reached peoples. It takes building relationships, learning an unwritten language, a new culture, laying a foundation of basic biblical truths about who God is, who man is, what man’s need is. It’s like building a skyscraper. One must take a great deal of time to build the foundation before building above ground. Our culture is obsessed with instant results. This works against the difficult task of reaching the unreached. We are thankful that we have each other to accomplish this great task.
The needs and opportunities we consistently hear about at church have once again stirred our hearts to be involved. Dave has been helping to encourage volunteers who work in the youth ministry and gather them for prayer. Julia has been serving as a worship leader for middle schoolers and is part of a team to create an engaging worship environment. Jill is now helping in the bookstore to provide resources that help fellow believers grow in their Christian life.
What a privilege it is to serve others!
An onset of vertigo has plagued Jill since Thanksgiving morning putting her in a tailspin of dizziness whenever she turned her head. This unique rotating chair called the Epley Omnimax is highly successful in treating vertigo in just one visit. It is one of only 18 in the U.S. so we feel fortunate to have one here near Orlando. Basically the chair detects eye movements from a camera and a therapist turns the patient in different directions to help re-position crystals in the semicircular canal of the ear. Jill never liked roller coasters and this was not fun for her, but it certainly seems to have helped. Just one treatment yesterday and she’s doing much better today. I don’t think she’ll be applying to work for NASA anytime soon.
Our post Thanksgiving celebration is to attend an annual personnel department conference. Our need to continue to be in Sync with God, with each other and to increase our relevance in ministry is our motivation in attending. This is a picture of some of our NTM team that attended.
It is an unique opportunity to collaborate and increased effective partnership with other mission agencies for the purpose of the great commission. As the year draws to a close, we desire to be renewed ourselves in our endeavors to play out our part in the global church in this ever changing world.
One idea that challenged us was to be sure we maintain some solitude and quiet so we can meditate and listen to God. Our culture is increasingly filled with background noise that invades nearly every second of our being. Although we enjoy email, Facebook, all sorts of digital media, it is easy to become saturated to where I cannot hear God through the noise. I must take time to unplug and remove myself from the grid. Jesus certainly practiced that during his day. Luke is full of instances where Jesus ministered and then retreated during the evening for prayer and reflection and rest.
This encouraged face is an expression of gratitude and celebration of having completed a couple of weeks on a very restrictive diet and 5 days of testing for his cancer follow up. We are hoping for a continued “all clear” results and then the changes to his current medications which should result in an increase in stanima… … and more energy to eat! We continue to the thank the Lord for all that He has taught us about ourselves and Him through this!
Jill and I interacting with married couples
For me it begins months ahead of the actual 5-7 day event. I review observations our staff have made of the last orientation and try to implement appropriate items to improve on what we do. I adjust the schedule to give presenters the amount of time they need and send out reminders to each presenter and draw up a draft of the new schedule. I schedule meetings for our team to review our “to do” list to make sure all of the logistics are coming together. We pray for those who will be attending and for our team that God will direct our activities. I also review the sessions I lead. I give an overview of the curriculum to the group during the first session and then do a couple of session about how culture impacts us and how to make wise choices when we experience culture jolts. Jill helps over see the meal planning and preparation and assists in the kitchen. She also coordinates airport pickup.
During the event Jill and I meet together with some of the participants and have a one-on-one meeting with them. This is a time for them to ask questions in private that may not be comfortable asking in public. Jill and I and other staff attend most of the meetings to listen to their testimonies and to the sessions to understand what their questions and concerns are and to be sure they are being addressed. Sometimes things surface that require us to spend extra time with a person or a couple. It is the busiest time of the year for us and also fulfilling as we see and hear their stories and how God is working in their lives. We feel privileged to be a part of their preparation as they move forward toward greater involvement in missions.
Daniel has been working with a guy that is developing his ranch for one of the latest crazes, mud events. They shot a promotional video and Julia was invited to participate. Someone snapped this picture of her. She is no priss, I am so proud to be here Dad! Notice the blood along with the mud and the pink fingernail polish. Style, class and toughness. Jill sent this to Julia’s orthodontist and they loved it asking if they could use it at their office.
It reminds me that it takes toughness to get into the dirt and the mud of other’s lives to help them. It will require a cost or sacrifice to serve. It will require humility and a mindset of listening and valuing what others have to say; remembering that I am to take my place in submission to God’s plans and good purposes for others and me. Lord, grant me humility, help me to be a mud warrior. You alone are called The Most High.