Missionary care in a partnership model
As soon as I read it I knew it applied to missionary care. In the current issue of Mission Frontiers, guest editor Robby Butler talked about three biblical principles that Jesus and his disciples modeled:
- Going to the lost instead of asking them to come to us
- Training everyone to obey all Jesus commanded
- The authority of all believers to baptize, etc.
Although we in North America talk much about partnership, in reality we’re talking about sponsorship.*
If we truly believed that we are all in this together…
If we truly believed that partnership should be our model…
If we truly believed that we are fully equipped and commissioned by the Lord of the harvest…
What would missionary care look like?
We would be pro-active.
We would put a great deal of stock in preventive care. We would not send people out without adequate training in self-care and partner-care. We would take the initiative to ensure that they remain healthy or are quickly restored to health when necessary. We would at all times keep our finger on their spiritual pulse and hold them accountable for practicing good spiritual hygiene.
We would be obedient.
We would believe that the best thing we can do to help our missionary partners stay spiritually healthy is to keep ourselves healthy. We would diligently practice the one-another commands of scripture, first within our local church setting, and then with our partners working in the harvest fields. We would strive to be good stewards, beseeching God for wisdom in using whatever gifts, talents, and resources we have for the sake of accomplishing the team’s objectives.
We would step up.
We would not hide behind a lack of formal or professional training. We would value the contribution we are able to make, not expecting someone else to do what we can. We would network with those who are qualified to minister to those needs that are beyond our experience or expertise—and we would ensure that our missionary partners were able to make use of their services. We would not allow lack of time or lack of finances to be an excuse for a lack of care.
Imagine if every missionary on the field was part of such a partnership!
There is no reason why it can’t happen, and there is every reason why it should. What will you do to start moving in this direction?
*Ron Blue, quoted in The Sending Church Defined, by Zach Bradley, p. 112