FIRST-PERSON: Missionaries, we need you

by Chuck Lawless, posted Thursday, June 07, 2018 (3 months ago)

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- It's no secret that I'm a fan of the men and women Southern Baptists send to the mission field. Granted, none of our 3,500-plus missionaries are perfect; nevertheless, my respect and admiration for them only continue to grow.

I'm looking to our missionaries for hope as our convention is dealing with all kinds of challenges right now. Here's why:

1. They're laser-beam focused on lostness. They're giving their lives to get the Gospel to people who don't know Jesus, and very little changes that focus. As long as the lost remain, they're on the front lines.

2. They don't easily get distracted. Of course, this trait relates directly to #1 above. Presidential transitions, revised strategies and SBC politics and heartaches don't divert the hearts of our missionaries.

3. They give sacrificially to support their own work. I've been with missionaries who give more willingly and deeply to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering than many stateside believers do. It's not surprising they support this offering, but their level of sacrifice is inspiring.

4. They're open to new methods while holding tightly to the old message. They grieve when evidence of transformed lives is lacking, and they're at least willing to ask what they could do better -- all the while knowing that compromising the Gospel is not an option.

5. They sing God's praises like no group I know. If you've heard their voices when missionaries sing together in their mother tongue, you know what I mean. The sound reverberates with praise that reaches the heavens -- and that should challenge our churches to sing more with all our being.

6. They serve as families. That's not to say that stateside leaders don't do so; it's just to say that missionary families often uniquely tackle their challenges together. There's a reason generations of families often serve on the mission field.

7. They know the Kingdom of God is bigger than they are. They're grateful for Southern Baptists, but they also know we're not the only players on the field. Many of us, beginning with me, could use that reminder occasionally.

Despite the various battles we're facing these days -- including things we simply must address -- I pray we never get distracted from supporting our missionaries with our prayers and our dollars.

Chuck Lawless, online at chucklawless.com, is vice president for spiritual formation and ministry centers and professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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