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A couple of days ago I had the most interesting and challenging call from a young man that found our organization via the social media venue, “Instagram”. He shared his contact information for another social media communication tool called, “WhatsApp” and we talked internationally for about 45 minutes. What I discovered is important and I thought worthy of sharing. And as we know, sharing of ideas leads to change and this needs to change.
So the young man’s name is Bonny. He was born in India, raised in Dubai, and became a Christian when he was 17. He grew up in a Hindu family and after struggling with issues of guilt and shame, he began searching for forgiveness in religion. He spent a significant amount of time studying different religions, but the more he searched, the wearier he grew (his words). After sinking into depression, he met with a counsellor who was Christian. He listened to Bonny and encouraged him to read the book of Luke and further, the rest of the Bible. The more he read, the surer he became that God was real. He ultimately gave his life to Christ. He attended churches of different denominations, developing his personal relationship with God and learned to lead small groups, evangelize, pray and intercede for the nations.
Over the past few years he was given opportunities in public ministry, through preaching, teaching and giving Gospel presentations. He learned about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an organization focused on international missions and did his first Discipleship Training School (DTS) with them. After the course, he knew he was to stay in missions and commit to long term serving. His heart is for Thailand, the Himalayas and the Middle East. Most recently, God has spoken to him about attaining a deeper understanding of Scripture and is working toward attending the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in Kansas City.
All this, leads us to the challenge. When I work with a young adult called to missions, we start first talking about finances and fundraising. As you know, you can’t really be a self-supported missionary. Sure, there are some exceptions where someone has property working for them, or they’ve figured out an online business that keeps them funded but doesn’t require a large time commitment. For most missionaries, this is not the case. They are predominantly dependent on the church body… the senders…that’s us!
For Bonny there are three major challenges. Again, if I were to begin working with a young adult from a first world country, like the United States, I would start by asking them who their support base is? Usually we start with what church do you attend? Then we move to how supportive their family is. Then, how big is your support base of friends? Starting with his church, he doesn’t have a home church like we would picture in the US. One where he grew up, where his parents are actively involved, where many had poured into his young life. He was older, didn’t have the roots needed for a big support base and frankly, the church is probably supported with funding outside the country, leaving little for a missions budget, if any. This would be strike one for financial support.
The second thing I would ask is, “how supportive is your family”? This would be the next level of support. For Bonny, no one in his family knows the Lord. Before his mother died, he said she was strongly against Christianity. Since then, his father has been softening to the idea, on the basis of human interest…he loves his son. He didn’t mention siblings or aunts and uncles, but we can make a pretty good guess that none of them, if they exist, are Christian either. Strike two for traditional fundraising.
Lastly, friend-based support. Bonny is at YWAM staffing, his friend base is missionaries. He has gotten some support through people he has run into and done ministry with, but his numbers are not enough. Strike three.
The challenge for Bonny is to make connections with Christians that believe in what he’s been called to and are willing to share their personal resources with him. We trust that God will provide for his needs. And while this is every missionary’s challenge, I can’t help but think we need to consider what our role is as the church. For me, this perspective has opened my eyes to our responsibility as a church…as the whole church. Presbyterian, Baptist, Non-denominational…doesn’t matter. The Bible makes it clear to go make disciples of all nations. And why would we challenge that directive? If we believe God’s word, we know the life it brings. If we are bathed in His word daily, we know what a great love has been offered to us and how much our Savior loves each and every one of us. There is nothing like it. Nothing like it.
Sometimes for me to gain perspective, I have to take myself to another place. I generally have to go to the place of suffering. When a friend of mine is faced with suffering (a child that’s lost, an illness, loss of a parent, loss of a job, a marriage ending, anything that brings us to our knees)…this is where we see the value of the Savior. Not when life is great, we’re celebrating our wealth, good fortune and health. We forget our need there. But as with all things, life will bring suffering. None are void of it. This is where I gain clarity.
Now picture a world of young Bonny’s waiting to hear the good news. Suffering from depression, hopeless circumstances, and overall sadness. It’s like when you are having a hard day and a friend comes and gives you a good solid hug and reminds you that you’re loved. This is what the word of God brings to the nations…brings to all of us.
I pray that with all my ramblings each month, I offer some sort of perspective that motivates you to dive into the lifegiving word of God and to share both your time and resources with missionaries giving of their own lives to be sure the message of hope is delivered. When your are the recipient of this message, you will be reminded of it’s value. May God bless you and give you revelation to His word and love. Amen.
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