Our aim as a church is to be a sending church. In the book of 3 John, the Apostle John instructs the church how we should care for those sent out for the sake of exalting the name of Jesus. He writes, “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 6). One of the ways we aim to care well for our missionaries is through our Mission Advocacy Teams. Here is an update from one of our missionaries on how her Advocacy Team Leaders help her carry forth the mission.
The first Christian worker to venture to my part of the world did so amongst a great deal of uncertainty. He was the first of thousands who would travel across the ocean to bring light into a country left in spiritual darkness, paving the way for generations of faithful missionaries to come. Before he left his friends and family, a brother in Christ spoke this to him, “There is a gold mine in [South Asia], but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?” He replied, “I will venture to go down, but remember that you must hold the ropes.”
The (Un)glamourous Missionary Life
At the risk of sounding morbid, I would compare the experience of moving overseas to hosting your own funeral. There’s a great deal of excitement and words spoken and hugs given as you leave, but somewhere between the tarmac at RDU and 20,000 feet above the Atlantic it gets quiet for the first time, and you realize that you’re alone. And no matter how many handwritten letters, texts, emails, and videos have been stored up in the suitcase stuffed in the overhead compartment, you understand that there now exists an entire ocean between you and everyone you love.
It’s in these moments that the glamourous imaginings about life as a missionary start to lose their shine. And it’s in these moments that you need to know who’s holding the ropes.
My Advocacy Team Leaders Hold My Rope
From the day that my Advocacy Team Leaders agreed to become my “rope-holders,” it was obvious that they took their commitment seriously. As I prepared to go overseas, they met with me frequently, prayed for me continuously, and were a constant reminder that I wasn’t walking into this new season alone. In fact, they personally rallied an army to love and support me after I left. They helped to establish a relationship with their community group and planned a sweet commissioning lunch to say goodbye to my Mercy Hill community. They reached out to my own family to encourage and support my parents through the process. They even drove up to Virginia on a rainy Wednesday afternoon to attend my commissioning service after my field training concluded.
Fast forward to two months on the field and their support has only become more valuable to me. My Advocacy Team Leaders and I keep in touch weekly to share victories, pray over losses, and to check in on my spiritual health. Living in a place where sound teaching and healthy churches are few and far between can cause many missionaries to burn out or be overrun by sin struggles that go unchecked without strong community or accountability. My Advocacy Team Leaders are here to hold me accountable in holiness, but also in boldness, walking in a manner worthy to that which I have been called. They ask me how my time in the word has been, who I’ve shared with that week, and how their community group can be lifting up my team and our work here. They’re also on standby for moments of homesickness or discouragement, not just to comfort, but to remind me of the gospel when I lose sight of the power of the One who holds me in his hand.
Don’t get me wrong, moving around the world at the command of Christ has been an excellent adventure. New foods, new friends, a new language, and new obstacles to daily living has kept me close to the Lord and assured that apart from him I can do nothing, particularly when it comes to catching the lizard who lives in my bathroom.
Whether I’m accidentally saying something inappropriate to a taxi driver in my broken language or burning yet another attempt at a local cuisine, life is beautiful, messy, challenging, and absolutely sanctifying in this new home. Having precious friends who are committed to holding the ropes makes it possible to stay connected to the body of believers I love at home while investing in those who we’re praying will join the family of faith here.
In a Place Like South Asia, There Are Anything But Small Updates
Just this evening, a few hours before sitting down to write this, my roommate and I went prayer walking out in our neighborhood. We came across a young couple, started a conversation, and after hearing about their new business venture, offered to pray to Jesus for its success. Without any prompting, the woman said, “Hmm. My family is Hindu, but I’ve always wanted to go to church. Will you take me?”
The Lord was not messing around when he said in Luke 10:2 that “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” If we are a church committed to sending laborers into this harvest, then we need to be a church committed to holding the ropes for those who are sent. I will always be grateful that my Advocacy Team Leaders stepped up to grab hold of mine.
Mercy Hill is committed to sending our best and caring well for our sent out ones. To become part of our Missionary Advocacy Teams, sign up for our Missionary Care Training on December 1-2 by clicking here.