Dear Friends,

We have made August a missions focus month and it could hardly be going better.  So far, we have heard from the five local ministries our church helps to support through our collective giving.  We have also heard from some of our own, Brenda Clifton and Becky Parker who have gone on mission to Romania as well as Chris and Nikki Pope about Haiti!  Last Sunday IMB missionaries Chris and Debbie Mauger told us about their ministries in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  This Sunday we will hear from IMB missionaries to Southern Thailand, David and Pamela Taylor and their children, Hudson, Katie and Elliott.  We will also hear from Lisa Warren and Rick Shellnutt about Nicaragua, Robin Shelnutt and Amy Bowles about Haiti and Todd and Lara Carlson about Israel.  Finally, our annual dessert auction to support mission trips, will be held Sunday night, Aug. 29.

Many times, the term “missions” is reserved in the church to denote going away from our home area to spread the gospel or to do some type of humanitarian work in the name of Jesus.  It is separated from “evangelism” or the more generic, “ministry.”  In reality, missions involve the on-going cycle of going, evangelizing, discipleship and church planting wherever that occurs. Hopefully, as an established church we are already acting in some, if not all, aspects of this cycle.  At one time we were a church plant and now, hopefully, we are an active participant in evangelizing, creating disciples and sending out ministers of the gospel which may result in more churches. Missions are the way that healthy churches participate in the Great Commission.  

As if that is not enough, what are some other reasons that our church (collectively and individually) should be involved in missions?  Why are prayer and monetary support essential to local, domestic and foreign missions?

First, we are commanded. Not every one of us can go ourselves to spread the Word but we should be obedient to support missions in some capacity. Jesus called us to participate in making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to keep His commandments (Matthew 28: 18-20). There are many ways to be involved with this effort.  We should encourage those who are studying to be ministers of the Gospel, pray for missionaries and mission fields, and lend financial support to those who have heeded the call to go.

Second, how else will they hear?  The fact that so many still have not been told about the hope that is found in Jesus should be compelling enough. Grace has been extended to us, and grace is required of us. In Romans 10:14-15 the Apostle Paul says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” We must be involved in this effort.

Third, the workers are few!  Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:37-38). We are ALL called to play a part in the process of planting, watering, and reaping the harvest.  Missionaries are normal everyday churchgoers just like us.  Is God calling you to join His workers in the field?  Might there be a way we could help others to go?

Fourth, missionaries depend on churches.  We are told in scripture to pray and provide support to those who give of themselves in taking the gospel to various parts of the earth. Paul asked the church to pray “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified…and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” (II Thessalonians 3:3).  Paul thanked the Philippian church for their contribution to his care (Philippians 4:10-18). Fulltime missionaries depend on prayer, encouragement and financial support to meet spiritual, emotional and physical needs, so that they can give themselves fully to the work of spreading the gospel.

Finally, we have been blessed for a reason.  “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Look around.  We have been given so much (freedom, health, prosperity…) that is not seen in many other parts of the world. Are we fulfilling our responsibility as good stewards of all that God has given us? It is yet another reason to labor in love for those who do not have the eternal hope that we share.

Church friends, missions is the work left to us to finish by Jesus Messiah our Savior.  Sunday morning worship in a nice airconditioned building without fear of persecution, fellowship dinners with abundant food, Sunday school, playgrounds, padded chairs and such are undeserved benefits and a privilege – not our work. ALL born-again believers can and should be involved in missions to the greatest extent of our ability.  We can ALL do at least one but likely more… GO, GIVE and/or PRAY!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike