All Christians are involved in foreign missions. You are either a “goer” or a “sender”.
At the inaugural Cross Conference in Louisville, Kentucky on December 27-30, the presenters labored to make the case for missions. They called for hundreds of young men and women to take to the mission field in places around the world. The people who leave their homeland and enter a new culture to go where the gospel has not been preached are called “goers.” But traveling abroad is not the only way to be involved in missions. Goers need support. They need help from the people who are called to remain in their own culture and context. Christians who stay and sustain the efforts of missionaries are called “senders”.
Even though all Christians are commissioned to proclaim Christ’s name (Col. 1:28), not everyone is called foreign missions. Instead, most of us will be “senders” of missionaries. So how can we be serious about sending? Here are four practical tips.
1) Spend Less to Spend More
Spend less money on non-essentials and comforts so that you can spend more on missions. In my experience reading about missions and talking to foreign missionaries, one of the most draining aspects of their vocation is raising money. In truth, if we as individuals and congregations committed ourselves to sacrificing a few luxuries for the sake of missions we could alleviate much of the anxiety that goes with missions and send many more people into the field.
2) Regularly Pray
Spiritual warfare is real. Some of our missionaries are going to places where witchcraft and other forms of paganism hold sway. Moreover, whatever the context, the Enemy does not want people to be saved. He will be especially active where Christ is being preached for the first time. Therefore, senders need to pray for missionaries. Seriously pray. Senders should ask their pastors and missions committees or organizations for names of missionaries to pray for on a regular basis. Small groups should frequently pray for their missionaries. And we should be bearing up the goers in our own private prayer lives.
3) Offer Relief at Home
Leaving home to cross a culture, learn a language, face political and physical threats to make Jesus’ name known is an all-consuming work. And workers need relief. When missionaries come home on furlough senders should flood them with opportunities to rest and rejuvenate. Lend them your lake house for a week, if you have one. Cook them a meal. Let them borrow your car. Pay for their gas or airfare to and from missions conferences. The ways that senders can support missionaries at home are innumerable. And the best way to find out how you can help is to ask a missionary.
4) Learn about Foreign Missions
Don’t just wait until the next missions conference to learn about foreign missions. Commit to learning about the worldwide need for the gospel. Seeing the number of unreached people groups and the diverse places and cultures from which they come feeds a concern for missions and the Christians who go to them. You can go to websites like the Joshua Project or denominational sites like the Southern Baptist International Mission Board or the PCA’s Mission to the World.
It’s Time to Get Serious about Sending
Maybe you’ve never given serious thought to your role as a “sender” of missionaries. If not, I encourage you to search the Scriptures. The message to preach Christ to the nations resounds throughout all of Scripture. “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Is. 42:6). “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy” (Ps. 67:4). “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). And “And after this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). The Scriptures are unified in their message to proclaim Christ where He has not been named. And if you aren’t one of the ones going, then you need to be about the business of sending.
There’s one more way you can support foreign missionaries. You could become one. “And He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'” (Mt. 9:38).