Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”
From the beginning of the early church there was only one plan for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed to the world and that was by the church. As a matter of fact Jesus even gave his disciples a roadmap to follow in accomplishing that task in Acts 1:8. In this verse Jesus tells his followers that they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The great reality that the church today is faced with is the responsibility to minister to those across the street, across the country, and even those in the furthest most parts of the earth. In previous blog posts we discussed what some Caskey Center churches are doing in accomplishing the task to reach Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria; but what are small membership churches doing to reach the ends of the earth?
A recent survey conducted showed that most Caskey Center churches are involved in international missions by giving. Of those churches surveyed the most frequent way of giving
to international missions was through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (18.6%). Other forms of giving included Cooperative Program giving (17.4%), supporting individual missionaries (11.3%),and giving to other miscellaneous ministries (9.3%).
In addition to giving, a large number of churches participated in international missions by serving in short term missions (13.8%), while other churches engaged in international missions by proactively identifying and engaging different ethnic groups in their local community (2.8%).
One pastor described the unique ministry that his church is doing by saying:
“We recently began a ministry called PURE. This is taken from James 1:27. In this ministry we strive to support orphans and widows around the world. We seek to meet their spiritual & physical needs. Through PURE we currently support a Pastor in India. This Pastor also runs a Christian orphanage, in our church sponsors all 9 of the children in the orphanage. Sponsoring means we provide the resources to meet ALL the needs of each kid.
Also our church has separated the year into quarters. Each quarter we have a missions offering; two of these quarters are for Lottie Moon and Operation Christmas Child.
We also use some of our budget overage from the previous year to fund our missions committee. We currently support 5 missionaries that are overseas full-time. A few of which are Southern Baptist but not with the IMB.”
This is an example of what God is doing through one church to help reach the nations with the Gospel, but God can work through your church as well. As a matter of fact Jesus commands it in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Here are a few practical suggestions that you and your church can use to be intentional in international missions:
Pray: Do not underestimate the power of prayer! Maybe your church is one of the churches that does not participate in any form of international missions—pray. Maybe your church is one that has members which say, “Why do we have to go somewhere else, we have ministry right here?” Pray. Maybe you do not know what to do next—pray some more. Continue to ask God to change the heart of your church and to help you lead them in what ministry to do next. For a list of IMB pray needs visit: http://imb.org/pray/default.aspx#.V1BtvfkrKUk
Give: Giving to international missions is one of the key ways to encourage and support international missions. Give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and continue to give to the Cooperative Program. Find ways to give to missionaries who are on the field to support the work that they are doing already. If and when you begin to give, share stories with the church of what is being accomplished through the gifts that are given.
Go: Every person needs to take the opportunity to physically go and be apart of foreign missions. Jesus’ command to go was one that was personal and unique to every person who calls themselves a follower of Christ. Have you ever considered that if you do not have a an active passport that you may already be out of the will of God? We should be prepared to go as soon as the Lord calls us.
Think Outside the Box: As you heard in the example above, there are many unique and different ways that a local church can be involved in international missions so do not be afraid to think outside of the box. There may be ministries that target international people groups near your church already. The main goal is that you and your church are involved in making Christ know in every nation!