By Howard Culbertson
Not infrequently, people think the only way they can participate in to-the-ends-of-the-earth evangelism is by flying to another country. They are wrong. “Going” is just one avenue of world mission involvement. Indeed, those who leave home to become career missionaries need a cadre of consecrated and zealous supporters back home.
A few years ago, Steven Hawthorne wrote a chapter in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement about those who support the “Go-ers” (as he called missionaries). Hawthorne, who grew up in a Nazarene parsonage, titled his chapter simply, “Senders.” He noted that the Apostle Paul may have been thinking of human Senders as well as God when he rhetorically asked: “How can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15).
The Apostle John was certainly clear in his encouragement to people to become Senders for missionaries.The Amplified Bible renders verse 7 and part of verse 8 in III John as: “For these [traveling missionaries] went out for the sake of the Name [of Christ]. So we ought to support such people.”
How do Senders support and take care of missionaries? Well, the III John passage seems to refer to material support. The same is true of Paul’s words to the Romans about a planned trip to Spain (Romans 15:22-24). To be sure, money – lots of it – is needed in world evangelism. However, Senders can and must do more than give money. As one example, in almost every one of Paul’s letters, he requested prayer for his ministry from his Senders.
R.A. Torrey, the founding head of Moody Bible Institute, believed that. Torrey once wrote: “The man or woman at home who prays often has as much to do with the effectiveness of the missionary on the field, and consequently with the results of his or her labors, as the missionary.”
In addition to money and prayer, Senders contribute to Great Commission fulfillment in ways ranging from keeping missions bulletin boards updated to locating and shipping needed equipment and supplies. Indeed, a variety of gifts and talents can be used to facilitate the work of missionaries serving far away.
Here are half a dozen areas in which Senders can support missionaries:
— Emotional support (giving encouragement via emails, cards, Skype conversations, showing up at deputation services and more).
— Mobilization (raising global missions awareness in one’s own local church or district).
— Financial support (giving and encouraging others to give).
— Intercessory prayer for world evangelism (praying and calling others to prayer).
— Logistics help (providing house and transportation for missionaries on home assignment, making arrangements for shipping things, ironing out details for events and more).
— Re-entry assistance (being a “safe” listener, helping returned missionaries find their way around, and more).
Senders have been known to be so passionate about supporting missionaries that they adjust their lifestyles to pray more, serve more and give more.
Be a Sender. Impact the “ends of the Earth” from your own doorstep.
This article was originally posted at: Engage Magazine