Missions: God is Worthy

GlobeIt has been reported that twelve hundred missionaries quit every year. Just let that sink in for a moment.

1,200 missionaries quit every 12 months.

Let’s back up in our thinking for a moment. Why do we engage in missions? We know that Jesus commissioned the Church to “go into all the world” and we certainly want to honor and obey His instruction. So, some people pack up and move to another place on the planet and some people stay, send support, and pray. Why?

God is worthy.

Missionaries are just like you and me. They are not super-heros, super-human, or super-christian. They have bills to pay, health issues, and their own unique family struggles. They have spiritual needs, physical needs, emotional needs, and fellowship needs.

Missionaries spend themselves learning a new language, a new culture, raising support, seeking appropriate training, and traveling (a lot). They have to figure out an entry strategy, base of operations, cross-cultural communication, and how to raise a family in a foreign environment. Ultimately they say “good bye” to their extended family and go where they typically don’t even have friends. Why?

God is worthy.

I do not know why so many missionaries quit every year. I imagine the reasons are as numerous as the people involved. Mission work is hard. It is challenging. It is dangerous. It will hurt. And for any number of real reasons, some will quit.

What I do know is that we can make a real difference. We have an obligation and opportunity to pray, support, and offer shepherding care (love) to our missionaries. Yes they need money. Yes they need intercessory prayer. They also need personal support, a listening ear, and a kind word. They need us to care about them, their children, and even (without condemnation) how they are coping with temptations, stress, or burnout.

My prayer is that our missionaries will feel more than “at home” at SCBC. My prayer is that they will feel safe, loved, nurtured, and edified. I pray we take our responsibility for them and to them seriously. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want any of our missionaries to become a statistic. Why?

God is worthy.

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My prayer for Ukraine…

A week after 9/11 (2001) a small group of us spent two weeks in Kiev and Odessa Ukraine with Slavic Gospel Association.  It was… incredible.  (Though no-one prepared me for being greeted with “a holy kiss”…over and over and over…everywhere we went.)

The pastors we met were dedicated (and godly) men who love the Word, cherish the Son, exalt the Father and yearn for their friends and neighbors to come to Christ.  Whole communities came out for the 3-4 hour long services that often included 2-4 sermons.  People arrived early, quietly prepared their hearts before the service and tearfully sang with rapturous joy in their hearts.

We also visited orphanages full of children.  I will never forget the little boy Uri who approached me and in broken but clear English said, “My name is U-ri. Vhat is yours?”  I wish someone could have taken a picture of his expression when I said, “Clegguart” (pronounced clay-gert) … I was ready to adopt him on the spot (along with the rest of the children).

I often find myself praying for the pastors we met and the churches in which we ministered.  One in particular stands out in my mind. Outside of Odessa and down rough dirt roads (I’m being generous) and across several fields lay a tiny little village where church was held every week, in a garage.

Packed in like sardines and using a little Casio keyboard for accompaniment, we gathered for worship.  After the service we walked a short distance down the road to a pile of rocks (not finely crafted bricks – random rocks).  The enthusiasm and anticipation was almost unbelievable.  This was to be their new church building.  They were building, stone by stone, piece by piece, mostly with their bare hands, a church.

I don’t know the political ups and downs of the current situation in Ukraine.  I do know that God is still on His throne and the Gospel still saves.

My prayer for Ukraine: May God’s people be faithful, God’s Word be proclaimed, God’s Spirit be unleashed, God’s Son be exalted and God be glorified!

To my pastor friends in Ukraine… Remember: Preach the Word, love the people and trust the Lord!

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