Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Short-term outreach with a difference

I’ve just returned from a marvellous experience. This weekend a group of pensioners arrived at my home. For some months now they have been contacting me to arrange to meet me. They are from a small town known as Sedgefield, between Knysna and George (for those who know South Africa). It was a group of six people, three married couples. Two of the men were ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa before retiring and the third couple are farmers.
What made this visit so remarkable is that they are going on a three week tour of Swaziland, Mocambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe – their main purpose being to visit missionaries, to encourage them, pray with them and to return to their home town afterwards with a new vision for missions. I must be totally honest that I was a little bit sceptical before they came. I was going to be their first stopover on their trip. We met at a venue in the southern part of Swaziland on Friday evening where we had dinner together and then, with a furious thunderstorm outside causing the electricity to go down every few minutes (quite typical and acceptable in Swaziland!) I started sharing with them what our church is involved in in Swaziland. When it seemed that the worst of the storm was over and the lights had remained on for more than ten minutes, I showed them a short DVD on our work.
The next morning, at breakfast, one of the former ministers opened his Bible and read the story of the merciful Samaritan from Luke 10, mentioning that, after hearing of the situation in Swaziland, he could not think of a better part to read. And then they prayed for the country, for the missionary work being done within Swaziland, for me and my family and for others working there. Afterwards they gave me an envelope. Yes, there was a financial contribution in the envelope, but more importantly, there was a card which said the following: We want to ensure you, that now that we have seen and heard you, we will not stop praying for you. We pray that God will guide you through his Spirit and that you will do whatever He asks of you and that He will give you strength to continue with this work.
From me they moved up to Trans World Radio in the northern part of Swaziland. Then on Monday they will be going to Maputo in Mocambique to continue their trip of thousands of miles. And wherever they go, this will be the message which they leave behind with the missionaries.
I was totally amazed. What a wonderful way to spend your retirement. This is indeed a missions trip with a twist.

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Sunday, June 3, 2007 - Posted by | Short-term outreaches

3 Comments »

  1. Wow Praise God…what a blessing! I can see a title of an upcoming blog…”Retirement as Mission”. What a scripture to accompany the work being done in Swaziland (Luke 10). I’ve been thinking for some time over the past year about this parable. One of the things that has struck me is not so much the obvious mandate to love your neighbor as yourself but rather the larger and more important question the Lawyer asks in verse 29…”Who is my neighbor”? It confused me for a while and in this past year I think I have been able to recieve an answer. My thoughts began with the inquiry that we all have neighbors yet not the same neighbors. In this passage, Jesus is making a statement about your personal neighbors. Maybe they are next door to you, yet there is a larger and more transcendent use of the word here because most likely the samaritan didn’t live next door to the man who fell among robbers. My conclusion and what I think is justified in this scripture passage is that our neighbors are anyone who may come into our “paths” AND with whom we may have the ability and capability to help. This means that our neighbors may cross our borders depending on whether or not God has decided to bring them into our path (wherever we may be). In verse 37 when Jesus says, “you go and do likewise” he isn’t necesarrily saying go out and find someone who has been beaten and abused and show them compassion, although this would be right to do and evident in other scriptures, instead I think He is commanding us to be aware of situations where he has maybe orchestrated a situaution that you may not have expected to occur. When it happens, show mercy because you have the opportunity to and because you can.

    Many missionaries strategize that the place that missionaries need to focus their efforts on is the 10/40 window-the countries that fall between lattitudes 10 and 40. These are where the least reached people groups are said to be living-people who have never heard the gospel. Although I think this is a great area to focus on, I don’t quite agree with this strategy. This is partly because I’ve come across people in the U.S. that have never heard the gospel and even some who say they have heard, could have received a gospel so distorted that it is completely devoid of the good news of Christ’s resurrection. So have all the people living in areas outside the 10/40 window heard a pure, undistorted, unpolluted message of Jesus’ saving grace? If not then they are just as important as those who haven’t heard any gospel whatsoever right?

    In thinking about missions opportunities and trying to strategize where missionaries should be and where I should be, I believe that God’s will may very well be in the places and situations that he is bringing you, outside of your control. I strategized so hard before joining Operation Mobilization (OM) thinking where I would be most effective…I had taken Arabic at University and studied alot about Islam and was convinced that the middle east was where I needed to be. I took steps to secure that vision with OM and 2 months before I was to leave for Lebanon, situations had changed and OM advised me to come to South Africa. This was the last place I wanted to go next to Asia for no good reason other than I didn’t want to and it didn’t strike me as a place that needed missionaries:) Since coming to South Africa for 6 months my entire worldview and missions view had changed. I have alot more to say about this but I need to go…

    Comment by Bryan | Monday, June 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Bryan,
    When reading your comment, I could not help thinking of Paul when he made plans to go to Asia but was prevented by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel there (Acts 16:6). He and Timothy then tried to go to Bithynia, but once again the Holy Spirit prevented them from entering (Acts 16:7). Then they moved down to Troas where Paul had a dream from the man in Macedonia who pleaded: “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9).
    It’s not a matter of where the greatest need are, but where God wants to use you.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Monday, June 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Retired or Re-Tyred? Bryan’s comment on my post entitled Short-term outreach with a difference sparked some thoughts in my mind. Today I also read an article in a church bulletin which asks the […]

    Pingback by Christians: Retired or Re-Tyred? « Mission Issues | Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | Reply


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