As I prepared my Sunday school lesson for this Sunday Oct 31,2004 a portion of the lesson struck me as a matter of concern.
Union Gospel Press Bible Expositor and Illuminator is an excellent publication for Sunday school classes .
If any of you use it in your church then you know what I mean.
In every lesson there is a section called World Missions.
In lesson 9 Creating A Renewed Trust, which is a powerfull lesson on the 73rd Psalm of Asaph ,the World Missions section is very compelling.
Philip J Lesko writes an impressive article on the reality of what Missionaries go through .
- Most missionaries ,in most denomination train
- Many learn the language and customs of the people for whom they whope to serve.
They go through rigourous scrutiny of their denomnational Mission Board examining them to see if they are fit for their call.
- Independents join groups like YWAM,Operation Mobilization etc.
- Many independent and voluntary missionaries may not have any college trainng or preperation but God still calls them and they follow God's lead.
- Once training is complete the next step is to raise support
by going from church to church.
- Some will ask relatives and friends for support .
- Many petitioning their denominational Mission board for help.
Missionaries reciev a Vision to go:
- They recieved a call somehow and they are different.
- Some are seemingly mundane ,the candidate is appointed to countries by the Mission Board , they see that as God's will so they dutifully go.
- Some have a powerful,compelling emotional call,
they feel such a profound burden for a certain people group and long to go and win them to Jesus Christ so they go .
- Some visions are supernatural where the candidate has visions and dreams like Paul and the Macedonian call for help.
Reality can be devastating :
- Once there they have hard time getting used to the climate and strange food.
- Some get sick from things like Malaria,Typhus,Ebola and other diseases depending on where they went.
- Some labor for years and never see a convert .
- They can be persecuted by the people.
I know of one missionary who had coconuts thrown at him while riding to a place on his motor scooter.Some have been beaten,stabbed,poisoned ,tortured,burned alive,others have been kidnapped and beheaded.
- They can be misunderstood,cultural differences can hinder their service .
Especially if they can't speak the language.
- Their own family may not understand their call and badger them to come home.
Some missionaries have been disinherited by their parents.
- They also suffer seperation from their spouses and children if they can't raise enough support to bring them.
some have had their spouses divorce them .
- Many are at odds with their fellow workers and conflicts arise like Barnabas and Paul in Acts.
- Many feel all alone seperated from family,country and the weight of the ministry overwhelms them.
Some sad Results:
- Many misionaries serve for a year and then quit and never go back.
- Some lose their focus and have mental breakdowns.
- Some are pulled out by their Mission Board due to divorce .
One missionary labored for years among the Bengalis in India,he was beginning to be able to converse in the Bengali language and win souls when the Denominational Board told him he was to leave and go to another country.
He refused and was cut off from support by his denoination.
- While many others are killed by irate people,wild animals,disease,and crashes enroute to and from their ministrty.
Here is what you can do to help;
God will bless you for all that you do to help your missionary.
- Write to your missionaries letters of encouragement and offer to pray for them.
- If they have e-mail send them encouraging e-mails.
- Encourage your missionaary to read devotionals ,study the word for him or herself .
- Remind them to seek the Lord for themselves to maintain their connection to God by the holy Spirit.
- Their sense of isolation will diminish greatly as they know you and others have not forgotten them and that you care.
- As your correspond with your missionary learn about the country and people of which he or she serves.
- Make sure your church maintains the monthly support.
- Perhaps the Lord will open the door for you to visit your missionary where they are ministering.
- Be at true friend ,let your missionary know you care.