Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

How others can get involved in missions

I received a call from a friend of mine this morning. He is the pastor of a congregation in South Africa and for the past eighteen months they have collected clothing, blankets, educational material for our creche and other items which they had then sent through to us so that we can re-distribute it to those most in need in Swaziland.
This morning he called me to say that he was intending to preach this coming Sunday on Matthew 28The Great Commission. Because of their involvement with our ministry in Swaziland, he wanted to challenge his congregation to do more than merely collecting clothes and blankets. So he called me with the words that every missionary dreams about: What can we do to help you?
But, do you know what? I didn’t know what to answer him! Involuntarily I thought back to the story of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-23 who also used the question which every evangelist dreams about hearing: What must I do to inherit eternal life? The plain and easy answer was to take this young man through a few simple steps, to explain salvation to him, to help him with some form of sinner’s prayer and to assure him that he has now been saved. But Jesus follows another route, challenging the young man to get rid of everything that is still binding him to this present life, so that he can receive eternal life.
The easy answer would have been to say to my friend that we need money, clothes, medicine, food… But I didn’t say this. In fact, I still don’t have an answer. I promised to call him back later this evening. What does one say to someone who is eager to get involved in missions and wants to know what he can do?
I think my reluctance to give an immediate answer stems from the fact that, up to now, there isn’t really a relationship between his congregation and our congregation. On two occasions some of their members came through to Swaziland to deliver some goods, but even then nothing really happened that could be described as a relationship. And I’m afraid that missions will be seen once again primarily as a way of getting rid of unused items in my house or a place where I can get rid of my old clothing as the new season approaches and I want to stock up on the latest fashions.
A certain congregation in South Africa, with whom I’ve had connections for many years, started a project which, in Afrikaans is known as Sente vir Sendelinge through which they collect money for our ministry in Swaziland which is then paid over once or twice a year. Now, for those not able to read Afrikaans, this slogan literally translates to Cents for the Missionary. It sounds good in Afrikaans, because there is a lot of alliteration and assonance in this phrase, but the problem is that it seems to endorse the notion that one can give small change for the work of the Lord. When I was asked to preach in that congregation earlier this year I made the tongue-in-the-cheek remark that we may have to change their slogan to something like: Millions for the Missions! Unfortunately, they failed to see the humour in this remark.
But I’m still at a loss to know what to answer my friend. He is frustrated, because he wants his congregation to do more than merely giving old clothing and blankets. But due to various reasons, he has been unable to arrange that they come and visit us in Swaziland to see for themselves what is going on.
If someone had asked you that question, what would you have answered?

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Friday, October 12, 2007 - Posted by | Building relations, Church, Comfort Zone, Evangelism, Giving, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Humour, Mission, Partnership, Poverty, Short-term outreaches, Support teams, Swaziland

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Arnau. I stumbled upon this post when hunting down ideas for a page I just put together on Hints for Communicating With Your Missionary. Maybe you and your readers will get inspiration from some of the items listed.

    Comment by Martin | Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Reply


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