As I journey through this life God gave me, there is one thing that strikes me over and over. The people God brings along to journey with me through life, or at least, a season of it. Time and again, I am blown away by the people I meet who encourage, challenge, and mobilise me as I live my life for the Kingdom of God.
In times past, the mandate of world missions involved jumping on a boat and going to a distant country where you would travel, either by foot or saddle-back/animal-drawn modes of transport, from province to province, state to state, city to city, town to town in order to reach the ends of the earth with gospel message of Jesus Christ. Now, modern transport removes many of the dangers and time constraints to reach some of the remotest parts of the globe.
Not every Christian is called to go overseas (but we are all called to make disciples). Instead, there are those God calls to remain at home and make disciples. Additionally, for those at home, He calls them to participate in His world-wide mission to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the same way, He calls those away from home to participate in the “local” mission at home.
The role of sending
The role of the sender is, effectively, the resourcing and supporting of missionaries whom God calls to serve Him and build His kingdom. It is a role many people overlook as unimportant or unrecognised. Just as with anything of significance, there are significant factors that contribute to its development and outcome. No less with God’s servants, there is a team of people who work towards their healthy development and preparation, of which the sender is one.
A sender is someone who supports a missionary. A sender is someone who promotes the needs of a missionary before the throne of God in prayer and the people of God. A sender is someone who provides for the material needs of a missionary and their ministry. A sender is someone who supports a missionary emotionally and relationally, keeping in touch and encouraging them in the call and work of God.
The importance of sending
The role of the sender is critical. While many churches send missionaries with financial and prayer support, they do not realise the significant part they are to play in the emotional and relational health of the missionaries. A missionary spends a number of years away from their home culture where their emotions are streched and put to the test from their ministry in a foreign culture.
They give of themselves in relationships that are unable to reciprocate in the same way as they would in their home culture. It is not to say a missionary’s life is unhappy and unfulfilling, in many cases it is quite the opposite, but it comes at the long-term cost of their emotional health and quality relationships.
The call of sending
The call to send is based on nothing less than the grace of God (2 Corinthians 8:1-7). It is not something we can command of our Christian brothers and sisters or our churches. Instead, it is the body of Christ in response to the grace of God that responds to the call of sending. The Corinthians are urged not as a command, but as a reflection of their love of God is genuine.
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
— 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 (ESV)
It is great when individuals or churches gather around a missionary to send them out with prayer and finances, but it is even greater when the whole body of Christ is spurred to send them with a more holistic view of support—supporting them not only financially and prayerfully, but emotionally and relationally also.
Will you be part of sending missionaries to reach God’s world? Will you not only financially and prayerfully support them, but support them emotionally and relationally? Maybe send them a care package (where it’s financially viable), send them a written letter, an email, a message on Facebook, or make time to Skype with them. What about organising a team from your church to go visit them and see their work they are doing?
If you’re interested in learning more about serving as senders, take a look at Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo.
As Christians, as disciples of Jesus, Jesus commissions us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). There’s no way around it. In my last article, I explored what it meant to go, but as one of my readers commented, the emphasis is not in the “going” but in the “making disciples”. What does it look like to “go and make disciples”?
The single, most underestimated way to reach God’s world with the gospel of Jesus Christ is prayer. The emphasis upon prayer prevails over any means to accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God.
Take the Jesus’ following comments:
Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
— Matthew 21:21-22 (ESV)
Or, the apostle John:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
— 1 John 5:13-15 (ESV)
Regardless of attempts to qualify and contain passages such as these in a neat little box to avoid heretical prayer, you cannot avoid the fact, if all the godly and righteous conditions are met, these passages indicate that prayer is effectual and effective in the human realm for the Kingdom of God. Or, more simply, ask and you will receive.
I’m almost 30 years old, half of which was spent in an educational institution (aka. school). I’ve spent over a decade learning information and skills that are intended to carry me through my adult life. As David T. Freeman once said:
“The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know — the less you know, the more you think you know.”
In my vast experience of almost-30-year life this truth rings true. It is no different for the Christian, the life of a Christian is the life of a disciple, following in the steps of the teacher, Jesus Christ. Unlike Jedi, the Christian disciple does not move from padawan, to knight, to master. The Christian remains a disciple learning from Jesus until their dying breath.