The seventh principle for missions at our church is “Support the Missionary”. I am currently writing several blogs about supporting the missionary.
Thus far, we have looked at (1) Provide proper vetting and (2) Provide people support. Here is the third way of supporting a missionary.
Provide Preparation Support
Ephesians 4:11-12 says that God “…gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”. The Lord provides leaders in the church to equip the church to serve.
Missionaries need to be equipped to handle the rigors and challenges of the mission field. Time should be spent in preparation prior to reaching the mission field and even while on the mission field.
If a missionary candidate is being called to a long-term missionary assignment (four years or longer), they need adequate preparation. Preparation doesn’t guarantee success, but it will help remediate the common pitfalls of missionary ministry.
For example, a missionary candidate should spend time ministering within the church family. Almost all missionaries will be teaching the Word of God in the field. Therefore, a missionary candidate should be trained to teach the Bible and have teaching assignments within the church family as a means of blessing the church and preparing for the missionary assignment. If those receiving the teaching from the missionary candidate cannot affirm the missionary candidate’s ability to teach effectively, then either more training and experience is necessary or, worst case scenario, perhaps the missionary candidate should not be a missionary.
Another example of preparation would be language acquisition. If the missionary candidate is going to serve in a foreign country with a foreign language, it is incumbent upon the missionary candidate to learn the language on a conversational basis. The missionary candidate can spend time preparing at home and then spend the initial year or two in the foreign land acquiring the language before being given a full-time missionary assignment.
Suppose your church receives a missionary from Japan who could not speak very much English and had to be translated every time they spoke. How effective would that missionary from Japan be in sharing the gospel to those in America who speak no Japanese? This says nothing about the love, commitment and work ethic of the missionary, but does address their ability to communicate the gospel, which is the main function of any missionary.
Missionary candidates should also go through a mending process before leaving for the field since the term equipping in the Bible has a mending component to it. Psychological testing, Christian counseling, prayer ministry and other journeys of mending would be wise and helpful. Any area of weakness or brokenness will be magnified in the mission field.
As the church, we need to responsibly prepare our missionaries for the rigors of the mission field realizing that even as we do our part, success rests in the hands and will of God.
Something to think about…