Let Them Go

Stacie Compton

Let Them Go

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked my daughter as we drove through town.

“Well, maybe a doctor for animals or a teacher, or maybe a missionary” she answered.

“Oh, wow! Those all sound fun,” I replied nonchalantly. “Wait…a missionary? That would mean you would have to live far, far away from Daddy and me. Are you sure you want to do that?”

The truth of the matter was I wasn’t sure I wanted her to do that. Sure, I meant all the things I vowed when we stood before the church and committed ourselves to see her discipled and raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. However, in that dedication service, I’m not so sure we meant that.

The deeper reality is, we at IM find parents all too often want their children to serve the Lord whole-heartedly—just on their terms and near their homes. People around the world are dying and going into eternity without hearing of Jesus Christ. And, quite honestly, it’s our own fault. We have the answers they need. Yet, we often hold tightly to the reins of those gifted with the opportunity to go.

Never in my wildest dreams, when they laid my baby girl against my skin in the delivery room, did I imagine she might one day walk through airport security with the intention of boarding a plane to a far-away land to share the gospel. Our girls are only seven and 11, but this reality hit me right in the heart.

Mommas, hear me loud and clear: it’s our duty as parents to let them go.

The call is clear: “Go into all the world to preach the gospel.”

Each summer, hundreds of teenagers are given an opportunity to go. We must support them in this. Their Heavenly Father is calling. Our obedience matters as much as theirs. Will you let them go? Eternity is at stake. Your son or daughter might be the one who shares the life-changing message of Jesus’ love for the world.

Pray hard, hug them tight, and let them go.

 

Excerpted from an article by Stacie Compton in ONE Magazine. Use the link to read the full article. Learn more about ETEAM and other short-term opportunities or about career missions.

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Six Ways to Help Missionaries “Come Home”

Deborah St. Lawrence

Six Ways to Help Missionaries “Come Home”

Last week, Judy Bryan talked about the awkwardness missionaries sometimes experience as they return to a place that no longer feels quite like home.

You can help missionaries settling near you as they seek to re-adjust to American culture and norms. Take some of the burden of re-entry off them by participating in their lives.

Help them settle in. If a missionary is settling nearby permanently or for stateside assignment, clean their home or apartment. Stock the kitchen with staples and favorite foods. Give them gift cards to help them ease into stateside life.

Make missionary kids feel special. Discover their interests and meet their needs. Invite them to join your family on trips to the zoo, playground, etc. Encourage your children to befriend them.

Pray, and let them know you are praying. Pray for specific things such as marriages, family life, travel, speaking engagements, account needs, readjustment, and spiritual health. Remember, they have the same struggles you do.

Partner financially. Giving faithfully is more important than how much you give. Missionaries depend on regular giving. Help lift the financial burden.

Support the Provision Closet. The WNAC Provision Closet meets a huge need for missionaries. Whether you make donations of items, cash, or gift cards, all are appreciated.

Ask. If you are unsure what might be most helpful, just ask. You may be an answer to a missionary’s prayer. Missionaries need opportunities to share with people who genuinely want to know what is going on in their lives. Asking a simple question could begin a lifelong friendship with a missionary.

Have other suggestions? We’d love to hear them!

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Welcome Home!

guestblog

Welcome Home!

When we returned to the States a year ago, it seemed everybody greeted us the same way: “Welcome home!”

Reentry into our “home” culture can be a major transition for missionary families. We carry an American passport. However, culturally, we are no longer 100% American.

Wonder how you can make re-entry easier for the missionaries you know?

Recognize they feel like foreigners in their own birth country. Get to know them, their likes and dislikes, their favorite foods. Include them in special events, concerts, or family outings. Invite them into your home and learn about them. Understand they may be grieving. Be a friend!

Pastors, when they call you to schedule services, understand they’re not trying to disrupt your preaching schedule. They want to assist you in helping your church accomplish the final order Jesus left us: make disciples among all nations. Please respond to their calls.

Be sensitive to missionary children. Attending school in the States is not always easy. They live most of their lives in another culture and see the world through different lenses. They are going to be different.

Remember missionaries are just like you: they need friends, encouragement, and acceptance.

At the same time, they are different. Having lived most of their lives and raised their family in another culture, they have adopted different lifestyles, languages, and cultural tastes. Following Paul’s example, they have become like the people they serve to bring them to Christ.

Understand they will never again be 100% American. Accept them as they are and reach out to them. Don’t assume anything. Listen to their experiences and their stories, and you will learn a great deal about them. Include them. Understand they want to know you as well.

We’ve been back in Oklahoma almost nine months now, and we’re getting used to Fahrenheit, gallons, and inches. We’re building deeper friendships and finding our niche. We’re beginning to feel more and more at home. To mimic Paul, we’re learning to be content, no matter where we live.

Condensed from Judy Bryan’s ONE Magazine article, the full article is available here. Judy and her husband Robert served 50 years in Côte d’Ivoire and France.

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Carving A Personal Mount Rushmore

Clint Morgan

Carving A Personal Mount Rushmore

Several years ago, a radio show host asked listeners something like, “If you could carve your own Mount Rushmore, what four faces would be on it?” In short order, the station began receiving calls.

I was out of range of the station before I could hear all the responses. I heard listeners mention the names of parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, or other significant influencers. I pondered the question for a while and could not settle on just four names. At any rate, it would probably be pretty risky for me to post a list with just four names on it.

As I toyed with the idea, I decided I could come up with the names of four people who influenced me as a missionary. These names came across my radar screen. The list is not meant to be exhaustive nor definitive.

Laura Belle Barnard—my first mission teacher at Free Will Baptist Bible College (now Welch). She was a godly woman with a passion for life, the Word of God, and souls. All who sat under her teaching sat in awe as she spoke with passion, authority, and humility about missionary life and ministry.

Dan Cronk—my mentor and friend. Dan had one of the most interesting minds I have ever been privileged to probe. He was an avid reader, eccentric thinker, and quintessential theorist. Each moment I spent with him was a learning moment.

LaVerne Miley—my father-in-law and the godliest man most of us will ever meet. He was a gentle teacher and lived out everything he believed and taught. Extremely gracious to me, he embraced me as a son-in-law, fellow missionary, and brother in Christ.

Eddie Payne—my on-the-field mentor. Arriving in Africa as a rookie missionary, I could not have found a more patient, kind, and clear speaking mentor. Always ready to answer my questions, he never forced information on me nor made me feel inadequate or incompetent. What a great person to have in one’s life when beginning on the mission field.

Well, that’s my quick list. How about you? Who comes to mind that might make your Mount Rushmore? We should be eternally grateful to the people God brings into our lives who exhort, edify, correct, and encourage us.

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United in Prayer and Fasting: Day 3

Clint Morgan

United in Prayer and Fasting: Day 3

Prayer Focus 

Pray for every country where IM missionaries serve.

  

Bible Study—Jonah 3:5-7

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:”

God used Jonah’s preaching, although done reluctantly, to strongly convict the people of Nineveh of their sins. They were so convicted they believed in God and “called a great fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. … By the decree of the king.” They would “not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.” Unlike Jonah, they did not deal with a bad attitude. They turned to God and sought His forgiveness and mercy.

 

Informing Our Prayer

What country where IM missionaries serve do you find most intriguing? How much do you know about it? Will you set aside time to learn at least three things about each country where we have missionaries?

How many fields can you name without looking them up? Please write those down, then go find the others. This information can be gathered from the missionary maps/posters, prayer cards, our website (iminc.org/missionaries/countries), and directories.

Try to answer three questions to prepare you to pray specifically for each country:

  1. What is the major religion? You might want to add a few more in this category so you pray with understanding about the resistance this religion has, or does not have, toward Christianity.
  2. What percentage of the population is Christian? It might do well to find out the percentage of “evangelical” Christians in particular. Joshuaproject.com is a good resource for this information and the question below.
  3. How many unreached people groups are in this country? Pray God will call missionaries to go to this (these) group(s).

As you gather this information, allow God’s Spirit to help you uncover the most important elements of each of these areas. Then spend an extensive amount of time praying about what you have discovered.

IM missionaries serve in:

  • Brazil
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Bulgaria
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • France
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • India
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Japan
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Kenya
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Spain
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Uruguay
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • USA
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________

 

 

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Ring That Bell!

Clint Morgan

Ring That Bell!

Before arriving in Africa in 1978, a missionary colleague told me the Lobi people—among whom Lynette and I would serve—are event-oriented.

I made the adjustment from my time-oriented culture (always concerned about the clock) to the event-oriented (it’s all about the event) world pretty quickly. But, my adjustment was helped along by a real-life lesson.

The Free Will Baptist church in our village was built in the late 1960s. Sunday services were scheduled for 9:00 a.m., but people rarely arrived “on time”. Many came 30-45 minutes late; others were even later. It certainly didn’t seem to bother anyone…except maybe the missionaries.

Interestingly enough, the church had a small steeple with a bell.  After a couple of months, I inquired as to why the bell wasn’t used. I was informed the rope was broken.

I asked if people would come to church “on time” if the bell was repaired. I was assured if the people heard the bell they would come. Sounded simple enough to me.

We took a Saturday to repair the bell, and I waited with great interest for the following day.  The bell rang—at 7:00 a.m.  After several weeks of the bell ringing at 6:30 or 7:15 or 9:30, I learned the man chosen to ring the bell didn’t have a watch. Even if he had owned one, he couldn’t tell time. He was non-literate.

My little experiment didn’t change anything. People still didn’t gather until well after 9:00 watch time…but they did not leave until the “event” was over.

Question: How important would it be to you for people in an event-oriented culture to learn to be on time? 

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Types of Partnerships

Kenneth Eagleton

Types of Partnerships

In previous blogs, we established that partnerships in the International Missions (IM) context are cooperative efforts with organizations working internationally, and we looked at some of the principles that guide our cooperative efforts. Today we will focus on the different types of partnerships.

Partnerships with National Churches. Most of our partnerships are with national associations of Free Will Baptist churches on fields where we no longer have resident missionaries (with a couple of exceptions). IM has a high investment of personnel and finances over a period of several decades in these fields resulting in mature churches, mature spiritual leaders, church growth momentum, and FWB institutions (such as Bible institutes or seminaries). We cannot and should not walk away from them. We must do all we can to cultivate our interdependence, maintain relationships, empower them to continue to effectively evangelize and disciple their country, and facilitate their involvement in an international network of Free Will Baptists. Some of the partnerships in Brazil, Panama, Cuba, Ivory Coast, India, and South Korea have formal agreements of cooperation while in some countries our agreement is informal.

Local Kingdom Organizations. In Uganda, Africa, we partner with Village of Hope, an organization providing shelter, restoration, and training for children caught up in the country’s recent civil war. In Ecuador, we partner with Jungle Kids for Christ (JKC) which takes Christian education into the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. They not only have a Christian school and a children’s hostel but are also planting a church.

Specialized Kingdom agencies. We partner with an agency that provides opportunities for teaching English in creative access countries (as a means of ministry). Another partner, Bible Missions, works in evangelism, church planting, and leadership training in five countries of Central Asia. Our cooperation with BERACA in Ivory Coast, Africa, provides for medical needs, adult literacy, AIDS prevention initiatives, and micro-loans for those needing to start an economic activity to support their families.

Other FWB organizations. IM also partners with other FWB organizations stateside and overseas for the benefit of our international works. Some of our projects have received the collaboration of WNAC, NAM, the FWB Foundation, Welch College, Randall University, Randall House, our own The Hanna Project (THP), and others.

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: His Plans, Not Ours

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: His Plans, Not Ours

I have probably written as many strategies as anyone in the Mission. That is not meant to be my badge of honor, but rather a confession of misdirected intentions and actions.

An innate element of my missiological thinking insists strategies are essential to good missionary work. I believe it, have practiced it, and to some degree, probably try to impose it on others. Needless to say, this has led to some real frustrations, disappointments, and at times, disillusionment.

It was in 2008, in France, I had an epiphany related to strategy development and implementation. We had an excellent team. They were young, enthusiastic, and looking for some direction from us older missionaries (meaning me and Lynette who were a mere 58 at that time).

With good intentions, we went about developing a long and extremely detailed strategy to minister to North African immigrants coming into southern France. During this process, I came to realize they wanted a strategy but were not getting into this long, long, long document.

It became painfully evident to me that most of the long (see very long) strategies I helped develop throughout my years of service, were not worth the paper they were written on. Missionaries affected by the strategies did not have a buy in. The strategies were perceived as too cumbersome, complex, and simply unappealing. A recipe for rejection in most situations!

This pushed us forward in a whole new direction. An expression we used in Africa fits snuggly here. We often said, “Don’t make complicated that which is not complicated.”

We set about developing a simplified strategy. One we could easily understand, agree on and pursue with passion.

We believed God had a plan for our team and we desired to discover it, embrace it, and execute it.

Jeremiah 29:11—For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (ESV)

Second of five in a series

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Plans/Strategies

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Plans/Strategies

I had just finished years of preparation and, all along the way, was told just how important strategies were in mission work. In our last phase of training, Missionary Internship in Detroit, Michigan, we received multiple lessons on strategy development. Why in the world would missionaries not want to talk about strategy?

After some in-depth discussions with missionaries who had been on the field for several terms, I began to understand the issue. Young missionaries were coming out with talk about strategy as if it was a new invention and older staff members were left feeling they knew nothing.

I hope I did not come across as arrogant, but I probably did. Sometimes our best intentions get sideswiped by previous experiences and preconceived ideas. This meant we had to slow down, have in-depth discussions, and proceed with unity of spirit.

I asked a straightforward question of one of the missionaries I knew had an aversion to strategies. I asked simply, “Do you have a plan for reaching the villages in this area with the gospel?” He responded, “Of course I do.” At that moment I realized one of the main obstacles in this discussion was terminology. Both groups were saying the same thing, but using different words. Did we really need to insist on using the word strategy? Should we not be willing to contextualize (another missiological principle) and go with the word plan?

In all honesty, it took another 10 years before the word strategy became acceptable nomenclature. But, until that time, we did just fine talking about our plans to reach the unreached.

No matter what term you choose to use, the essential point is to have a plan or strategy to complete your role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

First of five in a series

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The Word of God Speaks

Clint Morgan

The Word of God Speaks

It would be pretentious of me, or just about anyone, to declare a definitive answer to the question of how to respond to the challenges and opportunities of immigrants and refugees in the U.S.

I am glad to say this task has not fallen uniquely on my shoulders. During a conversation with Brother David Crowe, general director of North American Ministries (NAM), we agreed this a matter believers must address. As leaders of the denomination’s mission agencies, we called a joint meeting of our leadership teams to formulate a plan of action. It was a great joy to see our Free Will Baptist mission leaders around the same table focusing on one issue and seeking to address this important matter. We didn’t get very far in that meeting, but the ground was laid and we are determined to join forces on this task.

Our first step was to go to Scripture and establish the foundation to guide our conclusions. A few biblical passages that must be considered are:

Even as a group, we do not pretend to say we have a definitive answer. But, we are fully committed to developing strategic plans that reflect God’s love, mercy, grace, kindness, and justice. A plan that offers immigrants and refugees safety, self-worth and dignity, and the ability to acquire the necessities of life in a way that honors and glorifies God.

Now it’s time to “labor together as the Body of Christ.”

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