As a missionary, what are we doing in making a missionary presentation? Perhaps to answer the question, we need to look at this from the opposite angle, why should people listen to missionary presentations? I came across an interesting post here Why hear a Missionary Presentation? which got me thinking.
I think one of the most biblical reasons I have come across is from
Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
The presenting of what a missionary does on the mission field is very important. But beyond just important to the missionary because he needs more prayer and money, or important to the church because they don’t know where their money is going and want information, it is important because God says it is important. Without a clear deep rooted belief that this is necessary AND BIBLICALLY COMMANDED, a missionary will not fulfill God’s purposes and objectives in giving their missionary report.
1. Engage in world missions.
Jesus told His disciples to “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields” (John 4:35b), and hearing a missionary presentation is one good way to obey that command. (Barbara’s observation)
I think that this is very true. This passage reveals the biblical command for us to “disengage” with our local ministry for a spell, and engage with world missions. This is what the Great Commission is all about, “Go out and teach ALL NATIONS” Mat. 28:19. We cannot get away from this command, and somehow, through the proxy system know as missions, we are to fulfill this part of God’s command as equally as we do locally in our home church where we live.
This “engaging” is much more than sending a check or praying a prayer. It is getting involved with the work of missions outside of the United States (or wherever your home country is). This means first of all praying for the work there. Without information on what is being done, how it is going (frustrations, set-backs, and victories) as well as plans, you cannot pray intelligently. The most important part of praying is being accurately and timely informed of prayer needs and answers.
Giving is a problem. That is because missions is filled with big bucks fund raisers that are soaking up all the missions dollars in churches, and their “machine” for raising money deceives many churches, and regular normal missionaries with reasonable income goals are left out. The second reason there is a problem here is because the US economy has hard hit churches, and that isn’t giving up it seems.
Giving should be more than a check. A check is good, but only if the people behind that check are really behind you and your ministry. It is encouraging when churches give special donations for problems you have in the course of your ministry. It means that they did read your prayer letter, and they responded in kind with sacrifice. While modern missions wants to side track that with emergency funds and mission board policies that prohibit that, God’s people will respond.
I think it is noble and helpful when regular church members, and pastors also, want to visit a missionary they are supporting. It shows engagement with the ministry the missionary is doing, and that is nothing but good for everybody.
2. We can see more fields than we could possibly visit in person.
It is depressing for a missionary to go to church after church and present their ministry constantly and get no new support. I think part of the depressing part of this is simply that most missionaries think presenting their work in churches is about raising money. Well it is, but it isn’t. There are other considerations, “To promote missions in general.” Pastors should understand that it is good to have in missionaries regularly even if the church cannot support all the missionaries they have in. But this promotion of missions IS BIBLICAL, and it is expensive for the missionaries. For every Sunday they spend at churches that don’t have a hope of taking on a new missionary in the next 2 years, the missionary loses a good Sunday for raising his support.
Pastors should give good love offerings to missionaries, because when they do, even though they cannot do more, they are helping the missionaries “pay the bills” while on deputation. In this consideration, the pastor/church are greatly helping the missionary. A few things would make this much better though.
First, thing is prayer. If the missionary comes to present his ministry, he should get some kind of committment to pray him for at least a few months. Secondly, money. The love offering should cover both his expenses in coming and going, and some beyond that. Thirdly, many missionaries are “caught” between meetings, and traveling back home only to come back for the next Sunday in a church 15 minutes from where you were last Sunday is ridiculous (especially with gas prices the way they are). If churches can offer the missionary a week’s stay (even moving between two or three person’s houses during that week). Fourthly, missionaries sometimes are very hard put in financial stress and distress, and even if you church cannot monthly send him money, it is a great relief if the missionary has a body of 100 churches that are following his ministry and maybe will respond to a special financial need once in every 2-3 years. Even $50 during these times of problems. If pastors want to make their mission dollar create an impact, this how to do it.
Another aspect of this is to focus your congregation’s spiritual eyesight on many fields. I would recommend to pastors that each of the adult and maybe the teen Sunday School classes take up an offering and use it to buy cards and pay for postage, and have these groups send anniversary and birthday cards to missionaries. Take 5 minutes to read a missionary letter (get a bunch and pass them out in a Sunday School class, read them, pray for the needs, and have each person write a paragraph or two saying that they are praying for the missionary). This personal contact encourages the missionary greatly. Another thing that can be very useful and fruitful is for these Sunday School classes find those missionaries that have a short 10-15 minute presentation of their field online, watch it in class, and then send a card. An alternative is to write down the missionaries email address on the prayer letter, and have different members email them saying that they are praying for (list some specific requests from his prayer letter).
3. Praise God
Our faith is encouraged as we see God’s provision for funds, supplies, abilities.
It is so sad to see ingratitude in our world creeping into our churches and ministers/ministries. God commands and is greatly pleased with praise to him. Praise is to acknowledge, credit, and thank God for his work specifically in answering prayer. This must be done in a corporate setting of the body of Christ. If missionaries send out prayer letters with prayer requests, then they should also make note when those requests are answered and how they are answered. This should be taken before the Lord just as a prayer request to honor God. Few missionaries seem to be aware of this spiritual obligation. To present these answered requests to God and thank God for them is a spiritual activity, must like prayer, but reinforced our gratitude before God so that God can open the doors of heaven wider to us. As a church, we need to be praising God for what he has done, and as missionaries, the same is true.
To these thoughts we can add that churches that support you that see your presentation should be informed as to what you are doing, how you are doing it, and what victories and problems you have.