The Lord has burdened a lot of His people with different things. One of my burdens is to see the body of Christ become more involved with cross-cultural missions. My exposure to missions started 6 years ago when my wife moved from CT to NJ to work at Christian Missions in Many Lands (CMML). Although my first interest was her, I soon became interested in spending time with the different missionaries that were staying at CMML. As I was spending time with them, the Lord opened up my eyes to the many needs around the world.
After a missionary would give a report at my assembly, I quickly ran to my elders to express my interest in going to that country as a missionary. In the last 6 years I have had a desire to go to Peru, Colombia, Romania, Philippines, Burundi, France, Kenya, Niger, and Jamaica. One thing the Lord has graciously shown to me over this time is the need to learn how to focus.
There is so much that needs to be done that we often try to do it all and accomplish nothing. That is why I thought it would be beneficial for me to share with you some ideas on how you can focus on becoming more involved with missions in ways other than giving financially (although that will be discussed).
This is an obvious first point. But how can we pray for missionaries around the world? There are a number of resources. My go to resource is the CMML prayer handbook. This a great resource that has all missionaries commended from assemblies in Canada and the United States. Each day you can pray for a certain number of missionaries.
There are also a number of other sources that could be utilized, like the Joshua Project. They have prayer cards for people groups, prayer calendars, prayer guides, and even prayer videos. Operation World is another great resource and instead of praying for missionaries each day, you pray for a certain country.
Another opportunity is to have monthly missionary prayer meetings. In NJ we have had a monthly missionary prayer meeting for over 90 years. I also know of one happening in Florida. Each meeting, spend time praying for specific missionaries and work your way through the CMML handbook. We need to commit ourselves to praying for our missionaries who are serving around the world.
Encouragement can be so helpful to our missionaries. There are a number of ways we can encourage our missionaries. With technology at our fingertips, one way to encourage a missionary is to write him/her an email. A missionary said to me once that he only receives maybe 4 emails per year that are spontaneous , encouraging emails.
It doesn’t take long to type a 3 sentence email and include a verse. A number of missionaries give their email addresses and are listed in the CMML handbook. Maybe pick one missionary from the handbook a day to send a quick message of encouragement. Another way to encourage missionaries would be to go and visit them, which brings me to my next point.
Short Term Trips
Use your vacation time or time away from school to visit different missionaries. CMML and MSC (Missionary Service Committee) lists different opportunities to serve short term. I have also heard a number of times from different missionaries they would love for people to just visit.
Oftentimes we think of short term trips as opportunities to build a new church or do open air preaching every day, which is fine and accurate. But a short term missions trip can be going just to encourage missionaries and their families if they have one. Seeing what day to day life is like for them and how you can be praying for them would be a huge encouragement.
I left this as the last point because I feel that it is the least important for being involved with missions. Finances are a separate topic altogether. If you truly have given of your finances to the Lord, He will burden you as to what ought to be done with the finances. He is also faithful to His people and will provide for those serving Him faithfully.
One suggestion I do try to encourage is consistency. When you consistently give financially to missionaries, it allows them to build a relationship with you as they communicate back to you how the Lord is using them and the work they are involved in. It gives you a lot more prayer ammo.
Putting it all Together; The 2015 Challenge
I have created a challenge in my home assembly and hope to share this challenge with as many people as possible to see God do amazing things in 2015 around the world (not that He needs our help). In order to give people guidance and focus, I suggested they take one country and commit themselves to praying, encouraging, possibly going, and giving to the missionaries serving in that country.
Some people may not know where to begin. I suggest opening up your CMML prayer handbook to your birthdate and adopting that country. For example if you were born in any month on the 26th, Peru would be your country for the year. Email all the missionaries and tell them what you are doing. Gather up tons of prayer requests, get different statistics (population, % Christian, people groups, etc.), and pray for that country every day.
Email the missionaries every day with an encouraging verse, and plan a trip to see them. I am not saying this is an easy task, but if you’re going to make a new year resolution, why not make it one that is dedicated to the Lord and His mission around the world?