Are we asking?



Regarding new missionaries...perhaps we have not because we ask not.

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The Lord himself commands us to pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers, and it appears that God will be pleased to answer prayers that are commanded such as this – if His People actually do pray for such things.

Our Father does, indeed, seem pleased to answer the prayers of his people (Matthew 7:7-11;18:19; 21:22; Luke 11:9; John 14:13; 15:7,16; 16:23-24; Philippians 4:6; Philippians 4:19; James 1:5; 4:2;1 John 3:22;5:14), how much more ready will He be to answer prayers resulting from an explicit request of His Son.

Not merely running; being sent


They were commissioned: 

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

We witness here a commissioning service in Acts 13, a laying on of hands. This wasn’t ordination, but a formal recognition and separation for a special task.
The Apostle Paul was already a missionary, but now the Antioch church gives him formal recognition and authority unto this new task. Acts 13 wasn‘t Paul‘s ordination service, but a formal declaration that he was to be sent forth with a mission. Such an act confirms the local church‘s commendation of the missionary. It is their seal of approval, a transfer of authority, granting the missionary the right to act in the name of the church for the sake of the Glory of Jesus.

When a church lays on hands this is a testimony that they recognize the fittedness and the preparedness of the missionary to serve in that cross-cultural capacity for which they were commissioned.

It is an affirmation of suitability and, therefore, not a light or casual event. As eager as local churches are to send one of their own to the field, such a serious step should give pause to churches lest they risk turning their ugly ducklings into swans and confirm one who should not be sent. Many commissioning services include a charge both to the missionary and also to the sending church body, reminding them of their mutual obligations.
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Such a laying on of hands is an evidence that the missionary is not merely one who runs forward on his own, but is one who is sent.  He is not laying hands on himself, but the larger body of Christ is testifying that the missionary is truly, indeed, a “sent-out one.”

The Apostle Paul returned to Antioch


Paul went back to his home church and stayed there for a while:

  In Acts 14:26-28 we read the following;

…And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.

Paul returned home to Antioch and resumed a close relationship with his home church, cheering their hearts and encouraging them by reports of the work. His ministry did not cease once he arrived back home. The missionary ought not to seek merely to bless his target people “over there.” He should seek to bless the “home folks” as well.

Some literature speaks of Paul returning to Antioch in order to “report back” to his authority, but I think this misses the point. Paul wasn’t merely dutifully reporting to his boss; instead, he was celebrating with family! He rejoiced with the church, stayed with them for quite some time, resumed his old teaching and leadership duties, and even engaged in deep theological controversy with the Judaizers in the very next chapter.

Paul wanted to celebrate with his Antiochan family because the missionary task is not a “one man show.” This was their mutual work.

Missions is a state of total war; not all go far away to fight, but all labor on behalf of the war effort.

 What a pleasure when beautiful feet which bring glad tidings of good things have their origin in your local churches and are shod by the loving care of your own people!

The local church - hot-house and nursery for the task of planting in the world



 Small tender plants are often raised in a greenhouse, and small trees are often matured first in a nursery. There, tender shoots are strengthened and readied for the world.

The church functions in just such a way.

Believers are matured and readied for service out in the world. Greenhouse buds are not prepped merely for more long-term residence living in the greenhouse; likewise, our goal in church attendance is not merely to attend more church, but to become well-nourished and prepared as one of God’s roses to make the world more beautiful and sweet.

Whether standing tall or crushed underfoot we are to sweeten the world.

A Solid Port and Steady Winds for the Missionary Journey



A missionary can be likened to a sailing vessel, the missionary’s journey to a great sea voyage. The sweat of many brows and many calloused hands make the vessel seaworthy. Then, the sails are hoisted, farewells are given, and the vessel debarks, often crossing vast spaces and reaching lands far different from home. Sails which are full and rounded with the wind drive the ship onward towards its destination.


Without a solid launching port, the missionary vessel often founders or is lost at sea. One’s local sending church is such a port, a harbor from which to launch the missionary vessel in zealous obedience to the biblical mandate. Much peril was faced by trading companies reaching precious spices in days of old; how much greater is our charter, how much more regal our sending King, and how much more vital the goal of our journey.




Does regular prayer and financial support help “fill the sails” of your missionaries?

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
‘Twas sad as sad could be ;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea !

…Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean…      

 -Samuel Coleridge Taylor, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


Doldrums were the fear of sailing men of ages past, being stuck on a still and painted ocean until provisions ran out and the crew slowly succumbed to slow weakening and death.
 
 

Don’t let your missionary get caught in the doldrums! Fill their sails with contact, loving affirmation, and enough material support to keep them on their voyage.

God is the one who plants the Church




“…They rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”

                                                                                                                             ----------Acts 14

Paul was a very active worker, and yet Acts 14 speaks of all that God was doing.

The entire world is the stage, yet God is the main actor in missions; we merely fill bit parts (and we usually stutter our lines). God is the bringer of results. God plants the Church.

William Carey and co-workers recognized this truth in their Serampore Covenant:

“We are firmly persuaded that Paul might plant and Apollos water, in vain, in any part of the world, did not God give the increase. We are sure that only those ordained to eternal life will believe, and that God alone can add to the church such as shall be saved.

Nevertheless we cannot but observe with admiration that Paul, the great champion for the glorious doctrine of free and sovereign grace, was the most conspicuous for his personal zeal in the word of persuading men to be reconciled to God. In this respect he is a noble example for our imitation.

Our Lord intimated to those of His apostles who were fishermen, that he would make them fishers of men, intimating that in all weathers, and amidst every disappointment they were to aim at drawing men to the shores of eternal life.

Solomon says: “He that winneth souls is wise,” implying, no doubt, that the work of gaining over men to the side of God, was to be done by winning methods, and that it required the greatest wisdom to do it with success.”

Strive to be as involved as possible

If you can support missionaries by prayer, don’t be content to merely read missionary newsletters. If you can support missionaries financially, don’t be content merely to support missionaries by prayer. If you can support missionaries sent out by your own church, don’t be content merely to support those sent out by other churches. If you yourself can go out, don‘t be content merely to support others whom your church sends. Be as involved as possible! As the Church charges the battlements of the enemy, press as far forward into the front lines as possible!

Did the Apostle Paul make his material needs known?


Did the Apostle Paul, as our model missionary, make his needs known on the mission field? Furthermore, did he expect a response to those expressed needs?

I Corinthians 1:15-16:
15And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;

16And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.


And again,
Romans 15:24:

24Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you,

Paul expected help in being sent on his way. What does that mean?

The greek word (sorry, I've got no Greek font here) is propemfthenai, derived from propempo, and Baur and other Greek scholars state that this word denotes an expectation of "help on one's journey with food, money, by arranging for companions, means of travel, etc." Thus, Paul is stating an expectation that the church will provide for him materially as he goes out beyond them with the Gospel.

What is more, Paul had never even personally visited this Roman church before, and still has the audacity to expect help from them as he continues westward!

Furthermore, Paul is so bold as to assert, in Philippians 4:15-17,
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Paul wants the Philippians to give in order that they may be blessed by giving.

Furthermore, though he desired not to appear like the travelling paid teachers (sophists) and so personally made tents, the Apostle Paul did vigorously defend the right of other servants of God to be recompensed; "the laborer is worthy of his hire."
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I have heard some missionaries pride themselves on not "begging like other missionaries," meaning that they either never vocalize their needs or else never ask supporters to give towards those needs. They, in contrast, were just "praying and trusting in God."

Wow, now imagine how that makes this missionary feel? I, after all, always make it a policy to be very open and transparent about all my needs? I have never thought of myself as a begger before. And the last I checked, I am still "praying and trusting God" also; I merely add the common-sensical and permissible means of informing supporters of those needs, since the normal means by which the church moves is through known information.

Concerning personal views regarding missionary support raising, my wish is that we allow the same measure of freedom that the Apostle Paul allows for (and which the Apostle even practices on occasion, making known his hope of material support on the occasions quoted above) when it concerns this thorny issue of missions and money.

George Muller does not trump the Great Apostle, and Muller's personal calling should not be made normative for all missionaries.

Missionaries are not beggers, but we are extensions of the established church who are sent out to do the work of missions in the name of the church.

May I be so bold as to say that, when I communicate missionary needs on the field, I am not at all begging, but giving churches the opportunity to be blessed. After all, if I am truly working towards the spread of the Gospel and following the Apostle Paul's motives, then I, too, "...seek a profit which increases to your account" (Phil. 4:17).

C.T. Studd on the "Romance" of Missions





"The "romance" of a missionary is often made up of monotony and drudgery; there often is no glamor in it; it doesn't stir a man's spirit or blood.

So don't come out to be a missionary as an experiment, for that is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come.

Lord Wolsey was right: "A missionary ought to be a fanatic or he encumbers the ground." There are many trials and hardships. Disappointments are numerous and the time of learning the language is especially trying. Don't come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Only come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him. That does the trick in the end.

It's not the flash in the pan, but the steady giving forth of light and the shining on and on that we need out here. Our job is to make all hear the Word and God's job is to give penetration to His Word."



The PCA General Assembly (overture 9) to address the issue of Muslim Insider Movements



"Overture 9 from the PCA's Potomac Presbytery expresses grave concern concerning the practices of the “Insider Movement” regarding their translation practices..."

"The issue comes to the fore in the matter of Bible translating...they want to translate “son” as “messiah” in reference to Jesus because it is offensive to Muslims."


The Sonship of Jesus is more than a mere minor linguistic concern, but is central to Christian Trinitarian theology. Huios Tou Theou should not be rendered Messiah rather than "Son of God" based on audience preference.

Praise God for the PCA who is making a stand against radical contextualization.