Last week, my wife and I bought plane tickets for us and our daughter to visit friends from our church who are missionaries in Indonesia. I am looking forward to this trip for many reasons, but the central reason comes from the relationship we have with these specific missionaries. They are friends who we have known for years. We have ministered side by side in planting a church in the United States, and it was amazing to see God’s calling on their lives to go overseas and carry the good news of a Jesus Christ to another context.
From the very foundation of ReCAST we had hopes that we would one day send out missionaries. Little did we know, that it would be a couple from our launch team that we would send.
So here are 5 reasons why we will be going to Indonesia in January.
1. To Encourage Friends
We believe that encouragement is a necessary part of every ministry. We can go quite a while on resolve to just tough things out, but there comes a point when we are running on fumes. As a sending church, we want to take our role seriously in the lives of those we send far away for the cause of the Gospel. I do not believe that I am going to speak words of magical encouragement that will suddenly revive them and sustain them for the remainder of their term. I do however, think that the presence of friends coming to understand their context to pray with them and to discuss ministry with them will be sharpening and encouraging in various ways.
2. To Better Understand Their Ministry Context
I like to think of our sent missionaries as staff members who happen to live on the opposite side of the earth. They are supported by many individuals and some other churches, but at the end of the day, I believe that ReCAST Church has a responsibility to be involved in their ministry in a way that requires a deeper understanding. We are their accountability as well as their support. And we quite frankly will not have a great view of their needs without understanding in a deeper way their day to day context.
3. To Be Able to Pray with More Clarity
Understanding their ministry context is a good thing, but unless it changes something we do, it has just been a field trip to gain cultural understanding. My hope is that in going to Indonesia, we will come back better equipped to pray for our missionaries in more specific ways both as individuals and as a church. Seeing their context, their culture, and their day to day lives will fill out the content of our prayers with greater knowledge as well as greater empathy.
4. To Nurture a Global Perspective of God’s Kingdom
ReCAST Church has an “outpost” in Indonesia. But more importantly, the Kingdom of God has expanded globally through our missionaries/friends as they have taken the message of the gospel to Indonesia. It is very easy as a pastor to become so wrapped up in the local, that the global “big-Picture” of what God is doing fades. I believe that this is an unhealthy way to minister in the long run. I am looking forward to being stretched in my understanding of what God is doing on the other side of the world.
5. To Provide a Tangible Reminder That Our Missionaries are Supported Back Home
Discouragement and loneliness are tools that are used by Satan toget at the hearts of those God has called to the mission field. The investment in traveling to Indonesia is well worth it, if we can just remind our missionaries that they are loved, prayed for, and supported by their home church. My hope is that this trip in January will prove to be a tangible expression of the way that we, as a church, are seeking to support them even when we cannot be with them.
I am looking forward to this trip, but I am not looking forward to the travel. Our missionaries shared that of the several people on their team only one has ever had someone from back home visit. It may be the 30 hours of travel time, or the cost that keeps people away. But I am grateful that our church values our missionaries and has included a budget to help pay for some of the travel expenses that will encourage those who are serving in lonely places.
The gospel is going forward, and I look forward to seeing our missionaries in their new ministry context. And we are going to encourage them, and I have a hunch that we will find the encouragement is mutual.