All across the front of the worship center, the people stood. This rural church, which 14 months ago was pastored by a dual-income pastor, had seven mission projects on the church calendar for July. Those projects included an international outreach, disaster relief response, Vacation Bible School, and children and youth camps. It was a wonderful experience to pray for them. Wait! The word “wonderful” is too inadequate. Let’s try, “Powerful!”
Was it powerful because these wonderful volunteers are engaged in domestic and international mission work? Not quite. This scene was powerful because we serve the most POWERFUL God. After all, the God who spoke the world into existence out of nothing is worthy of our lives, our praise and our time. This same God works through people for His purposes. A life invested missionally is of great value in God’s kingdom, and because of the promises of Jesus, we expect a one-hundred-fold increase.
Are these who were commissioned at this local church different from the missionaries and the church planters we support through the Cooperative Program? Great question. They are the same and they are not the same.
Every follower of Christ is essentially a missionary. Every believer exists to strategically, prayerfully share the good news of the gospel with others and to help those who will receive Jesus to become fully devoted Christ-followers in all things.
No authentic believer is exempt from the responsibility to be engaged in the mission. That is why I always made it a priority with every church I pastored (or served as interim pastor) to challenge the saints to obtain a passport. Of course, those who could not travel because of special needs received a pass and those over the age of 85 could pass, too. However, I consistently found that octogenarians and people with physical challenges were some of the most effective witnesses for Christ.
A friend of mine is deeply indebted today to a young lady who had her leg amputated just a few weeks prior to her going on a youth mission trip to New England. It was the testimony of her life that melted his resistant heart, and he became a Christ-follower that now leads dozens to faith in Christ every year.
At another church, just six weeks until our departure date, a dear precious lady in her late seventies was physically attacked by a depraved man. She was determined to participate in her church’s first mission trip to Africa. After we arrived, we knew why. She led a women’s only session, and her testimony helped some of our International Mission Board female personnel grapple with the attacks they had encountered while living on the field.
Too often we are not ready to go on mission, and that needs to change. Years ago, someone painted a word picture for me. Imagine you make some lame excuse that you couldn’t go on your local church’s mission trip because you didn’t have a passport or you were not “prayed up” or you believed the myth that you are not gifted to go. What if someone at the last moment has a death in their family and the pastor comes to you and asks, “The trip is all paid for—all you have to do is go.” And you give the excuse, “I don’t have a passport.” Can we even begin to imagine how lame that will sound in heaven as the Lord asks, “Why you didn’t prepare? I provided the opportunity and the resources.”
All across our great state, local churches are engaged in missional activities both domestic and international. Students are involved. Parents and grandparents are participating. Pray for a harvest of people coming to Christ in response to the witness of Missouri Baptists engaged in missions this summer.
Pray too for our state and international missionaries. In Missouri, your 20 field missionaries are all over the state serving the Lord by assisting cooperating churches of every size and structure. We are a diverse group, and we are grateful for your church’s support of the Cooperative Program and the Missouri Missions Offering.
Internationally, the calling and dedication to leave their families of origin, to make a cross-cultural leap, and to engage in strategically reaching those who have never heard is what our International Mission Board personnel do. Pray for them, and be faithful to give to your church so that funding flows from your church to the ends of the earth through the Cooperative Program.
For additional resources about the Cooperative Program, go to www.MoBaptist.org/cp. Take a look at some of the amazing videos. Show some to your friends or to your fellow church members. God is on the move and Missouri Baptist want to go with Him.