I was challenged by my Pastor, Austin Gardner, on his podcast the other day to give “practical steps to take as a pioneer”. I gave a few but have been thinking about that topic for the last few days. Here is a piece of advice that I believe will be beneficial for those who really desire to be in the yoke with the missionary.
Get to know them earlier!
Some of the best friendships between senders and goers are with people who knew the missionary before they every started deputation (support raising). As in the case of a family member, childhood friend, of when missionaries go to the field after serving on a church staff. I have been blessed to have known many missionaries long before they every planted their first church or even visited their first church on deputation. I can speak first hand on how exciting it was to watch as Mark Tolson went from a *teenager (19) with a strong desire to be used of God to a Chinese speaking, father, dad, church planting missionary to China.
So how can you go about “getting to know the missionary earlier”.
- Take interest in people or families in your church that have shown a desire to serve on the foreign field. Start helping them on their journey before they get into the proverbial mini-van of deputation.
- Be involved in the missions training at your church. Some of you may not attend a church that has an intensive missions training program but all of you are in the business of training laborers in the harvest. Donate your time and talent to Sunday School classes and helping people headed to the field learn skills you may have.
- Attend conferences and events where there will be a large percentage of people looking to head to the mission field. (shameless plug – any Our Generation event)
- Be proactive in the missionaries you meet. You may not be the missions pastor of the church you attend and may not set the schedule for your missions conference but that doesn’t keep you from inviting them over for lunch.
- Before the missionary comes on furlough schedule time with them. Do not expect that you will “just get together sometime”. Life doesn’t work like that. Those free moments rarely happen. Be intentional.
It may be that you could add somethings to this list. I am not sure I gave any simple, practical advice on how to make it happen but I would like to emphasize that it is something we should be striving to do. Did you know that only 1 out of 100 young people who every make a decision to be involved in foreign missions every make it to the field? What if some of us Pioneer Senders were looking to “get to know missionaries earlier” became their friend between the alter and the airport?
*Disclaimer: I am only a couple of years older than Mark. So in case you didn’t notice the picture is not real.