How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15 NIV
Realistically not every believer is able to cross cultural or geographical boundaries to bring good news. But every true believer can be involved in the process of sending those who can go. In Romans 10 we find two complementary roles: those who go; and those who send. Both roles are necessary to advance God’s purpose to be known, worshiped and obeyed by all nations
We can think of these two complimentary roles in terms of soldiers involved in war. There are those on the front line and those who support the soldiers at the front. During WWII, about 15 people supported just one soldier on the front line. Today 50 people support a front line soldier. So the role of the missionary sender is vital. Those who “send” do so by offering encouragement, faithfully praying and by providing financial support and other needed resources. Without these, those on the front line would not be able to serve
A few years ago I wrote a chapter for the Romanian edition of Neil Pirolo’s excellent book, Serving as Senders. Pirolo speaks of six different ways we can serve as senders. Here are six types of support every missionary needs.
1. Moral support. Those who cross cultural, and geographical barriers for the cause of Christ need encouragement, though too often they hear words of discouragement. Gracious words, a card, a gift, a visit, a warm embrace all strengthen the heart. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thes. 5:11).
2. Logistic support. Sometimes those who go need help on the home front. This might involve helping with financial matters storing personal items, , looking after family, or sending care package – especially those items that cannot be obtained overseas.
3. Financial support. By faith missionaries look to God to provide for their personal and ministry needs. One veteran OC missionary says, “I don’t raise support; God lowers it.” Indeed God does provide – through friends, mission-minded individuals, relatives and churches who care for us and who believe in what we are doing.
4. Prayer support. The greatest thing you can do for those who go is to faithfully pray for them. “God…gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7). So fruitfulness depends on answered prayer (Jn. 15:16). In answer to prayer doors are opened (Col. 4:3), workers are sent (Mt. 9:38), the Gospel spreads rapidly (2 Thes. 3:1) “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
5. Communication support. Keep in touch with your missionaries. Read their prayer letters and share your news with them too. “Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land” (Prov. 25:25).
6. Re-entry support. This involves much more than applause when the airplane lands. Home assignment is not a vacation. There are people to see, churches to visit and support to raise. Missionaries on furlough have logistical needs: housing, transportation, etc. – but have a greater need to be listened to. They spent years abroad for the cause of Christ, but friends, family and churches show little interest in hearing of their successes — let alone their struggles. Each comes home with an “emotional back pack” full of disappointments, strained relationships, stresses, and possibly a wounded soul. Wise churches provide debriefing and pastoral care to restore and strengthen the soul.
Senders are fellow workers with the truth.
Beginning with the Apostle Paul’s words of the about the vital role of the sender, we conclude with the Apostle John’s perspective..
You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. (3 John 6-8).
By sending missionaries on their way in a manner worthy of God, we become fellow workers. What can you do, what will you do to send out workers for the cause of Christ?