May 09, 2011
Often, when Irene and I share with people the reason we started this ministry, we hear statements like, “There is such a huge need for that kind of work” or, “We are so glad that you are engaged in that sort of ministry.” Many times they admit that the scope of missionary attrition is far broader than they imagined. They are unaware of how difficult life on the mission field can be, or how seriously harvest workers can be wounded.
Sometimes the hard facts are held back. Kept secret, if you will, out of fear. Fear of discouraging future missionaries. Fear of disappointing one’s supporters. Fear of not being able to live up to one’s call from God. Fear of transparency, of failure, of falling off the pedestal upon which missionaries are frequently enshrined.
But those are not the only secrets. They only deal with one side of the equation. The best-kept secret, from my perspective, concerns you. Yes you--the average member of the average church that sends representatives to the far corners of the earth to advance the kingdom of God.
It is a secret that hamstrings the front-line soldiers. It is a secret that hinders the full potential of God’s harvest workers. It is a secret that hampers the ability of missionaries to persevere and finish their tasks. On the flip side it is, I believe, the most potent untapped power in the arsenal of missionary care. It is, quite simply, the local church.
Permeating the planet with the gospel of Jesus Christ was God’s idea. Covering the earth with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea was not a concept that man invented. Endowing people with the life of Christ and sending them out to be miniature versions of Jesus is God’s strategy, God’s desire, God’s will. And what God has planned he has provided for. He has seen to it that the body of Christ is thoroughly equipped with everything it needs to be and do what he desires (see Philippians 2:13).
The harvest workers we send out are a part of the body of Christ. The body which was designed by God to nurture and care for itself as it draws from the head, Jesus Christ. The body which is commanded to love one another, with all that that entails. Specialists (i.e. pastors and counselors and coaches) are a part of that body, but they are not the whole body. Let no one who is a foot or an ear think he is any less necessary to the body than the hands or eyes (1 Corinthians 12:15-16).
The bottom line is this: If the whole body were engaged in caring for the harvest force in the way God intends there would be far fewer spiritual casualties on the mission field. You are God’s secret weapon, as it were--the best kept secret in missionary care. Let’s not keep it a secret any longer!
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