Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2006
There is no such thing as MISSIONS. There is only one mission, and God gave it all to us. Missions is a word that brings a world of thoughts and challenges to mind, most of them beyond the capability, or even the imagination, of the average Christian. It makes it seem so far away, so complex, and so difficult to become involved. The world is so big, and the needs so many; where would I begin? Is it even my responsibility, or should professionals do it all? The answer is, yes, it is your responsibility. However, don’t think Missions, think mission, my mission, what is it, how can I fulfill it? There are simple ways you can participate in global mission without understanding all the needs of the world, even without leaving your own home or country. Here are some suggestions:
Find a missionary to adopt.
Start by finding which missionaries your church supports. Ask your pastor or mission team leader. Perhaps it would be a missionary whom you have heard speak in your church, or whom you have met personally. If not, ask who is in charge of mission work in your church, and ask for a suggestion.
Do some research.
Determine the country where that missionary serves, find it on a map or globe, look it up on the internet or get a book about it. Ask your church leaders how you can begin to receive that missionary’s newsletter on a regular basis. If possible, learn what that missionary is doing in that country, what kind of team he is on, and what that missionary is doing in that country, what kind of team he is on, and what members of his family are there with him. Operation World by Patrick Johnstone lists each country, and will help you learn about it. (See sources below.)
Contact the missionary.
E-mail works best. Tell them you are going to begin praying for them, and ask how they would like you to pray. Most will have some specific needs, but in general, pray for them to be fruitful in their work. If that missionary is in a “closed” country, such as China or an Islamic country, be sure to ask someone how to avoid using words and terms that might expose their work to the authorities. Some missionaries have encrypted (confidential) e-mail, but you should still avoid using words like missionary, evangelize, church; words that would put them or their work in danger.
Begin a systematic prayer process.
Get all your information in one place, and begin to pray for the country, the people group, the missionary, and the needs at a certain time in your schedule that will help you to be faithful in it. Scan the newspaper or internet for news of that country so you can keep current on events there, especially if they involve persecution, revolution, or other serious conditions. Continue your study on that country and people group, becoming as informed as possible.
Correspond with them.
Build a relationship. Continue to assure them of your prayers, share Scriptures that God has shown you that may apply to their needs, and let them know you care. Let your church mission team know what you are doing, and get their advice. If there are children in the family, try to find someone of the same age in your family or church who could become a pen-pal to that child. Find out when they will be in the USA, and plan to meet with them or to host them in your home.
Join your local church mission team.
Share with them what you are doing, and encourage them to pray with you. Ask how you can be involved in their activities. If your church has no mission team, talk with your pastor about helping to start one. How to Get Your Church Involved in Missions by David Mays, has lots of helps. (See also, Cultivating a Mission Active Church by Mike Pollard.) Ask your church leadership to develop a small budget for books on mission so every member is not required to purchase their own, or encourage your mission team to share the books they have found helpful.
Attend, or help to sponsor, a world Perspectives course in your area.
This is a comprehensive course on the history, and of the present efforts and needs of global mission. Their web site lists classes in every state and locality. You will be amazed to learn God’s plan throughout the Scriptures, and how it has been implemented for 2000 years, as well as present progress in fulfilling the Great Commission. Learn more at: perspectives.org.
Gary Henley is a member of the International Outreach Ministries (IOM) Board of Directors. He served as the President and Executive Director of IOM for twenty years, traveling widely and encouraging missionaries around the globe. In addition, he spent twenty-six years as a church planter and pastor.