One of the greatest surprises along the way this last year here in New Braunfels has been the privilege of being introduced to several Christian business owners (couples). As I am going through the process of becoming one, here the Lord provides me with these examples to encourage me and challenge me.
One of these specifically, Bill, has helped me grapple with the reality of being a sender. He wrote the note I'm including below which I share with his permission. I hope it challenges you like it did me.
* * * * * * * * * * *
I just read our mutual missionary friends' newsletter, and it brought back memories of our dinner together last Fall. What a sweet night that was! Connie and I left so encouraged! On that evening you & I had a brief conversation about the dynamics of being a SENDER. I have recently had some experiences that clarify these dynamics…and for some reason the Spirit is urging me to share them with you.
Reading of our mutual missionary friends' experience helps me focus on the trials, tribulations and victories that come with spreading the Good News. In fact, this is the second reinforcement I have received in the last 24 hrs. At Bible Study/Small Group gathering last night we discussed Acts 13 & 14. In Acts 13:3 (which Connie & I use as the foundational scripture for our business), the church at Antioch fasted, prayed and laid hands on Paul and Barnabas, and SENT them on their first missionary journey. The remainder of Acts 13 & 14 is full of the trials & conflict P&B encountered when preaching Jesus.
Our group leader then made this statement, “Persecution leads to perseverance. The Bible has many instances where God’s Word is effectively spread when God’s people don’t buckle under the weight of conflict & trials”. And he followed up with this question, “Can you describe a situation, and the outcome, in which you encountered conflict & trials when speaking out for Jesus?”
Well, I couldn’t think of such a situation…certainly not a dramatic one…where I have faced significant opposition while expressing my faith, or speaking out for Jesus. (Though I think America is increasingly moving in that direction). And then it occurred to me…it was P&B who encountered significant opposition, not the SENDERS from Antioch. If my church life in New Braunfels is something like the church life in Antioch, then my exposure to significant opposition will be much less than those who are physically in the battle field…like our mutual missionary friends.
I further thought, why don’t I relate more intimately with the truth of the “persecution leads to perseverance” axiom? I can think of two reasons:
I am not aggressive enough to put myself in situations where opposition exists
I am not vicariously involved with those who do encounter such situations
So here is my conclusion to this matter:
1.A SENDER is just a check-writer unless they are emotionally and spiritually involved with the people they are supporting.
2.A SENDER needs to vicariously live the experience daily.
A SENDER needs to know what’s going on with the people they send, or they can’t be vicariously involved with them. This is where our mutual missionary friends are doing a great thing for me by relating the struggles, encouragements, feelings of inadequacy, and moments of inspiration that they encounter daily. As I read their newsletter today, I felt an emotional and spiritual connection…no, participation…in their efforts. I believe this connection between SENDER and SENDEE is the key to successfully increasing the involvement of the local church in missionary work. And, I believe their work will be more successful because they don’t battle their opposition alone. I am battling with them! If “persecution leads to perseverance”, then let the persecution be lived, vicariously, by the entire church! How much greater would be my conviction to provide the support that our mutual missionary friends of the world need! And how much greater God’s work could be in spreading the Good News!
Not sure where all this came from…….hope it strikes a chord with you too…..
Are you available for lunch or coffee some day to get our minds together on this issue?
This blog follows the life, ministry and adventures of the Casey family. We were missionaries in Ancona, Italy from 2000 until 2011. We are now adventuring in the US of A, experimenting with running a business, growing a garden, raising a family and challenging the Church to break outside the box and adopt new forms to reach a new generation with the truth of the Gospel.
Born in Santiago, Chile I have grown up on the move - lived in some 15 different homes. I am a 'word' person - enjoying almost anything to do with books and literature. I love exploring God's great world and helping people find their place in it.
There once was a church down by the port in Ancona, Italy. With the passing of time, shaken by earthquakes and beaten by the winds, the foundations of the church crumbled and the church toppled into the sea. A friend of ours shared with us that she remembers, as a little girl, playing along the pier and seeing the remains of the church under the water. She remembers seeing the cross from the top of the church under the surface. She told us that some say that if the wind was strong enough and the waves choppy enough, you could even hear the bells...
The story leads to this question:
If we were to raise her out of the water, if we were to restore her completely to what she was originally intended to be...what would she look like? If we were to remove her from all the traditions that humankind has surrounded her with and drowned her in...who would she be?