Serving as Senders: Logistics


I am consistently astounded at those in our life that have this gifting. Many people are amazed at when the Holy Spirit manifest in a supernatural way such as healing or prophecy. Though these of course are outstanding gifts from God, what blows me away is seeing someone so in tune with the Spirit that they can put together an event or oversee a ministry where all the helpers are enthusiastically serving and the participants are able to see the workings of God. This is the Spirit in the nuance. The behind the scenes. Those who deserve all the credit but want none. This is the logistical team.

 


    This last month I posted a story about helping share the Gospel in a refugee camp near the Syrian border. Ministry in the Bekaa Valley where 500,000 Syrians are living in tents is markedly different from our urban ministry we engage with daily. In our Beiruti suburban slum or Nabaa, we can stand in the street and shout about Jesus and the need for His salvation. Daily our staff goes from home to home to teach and preach about the goodness of the savior.

    Ministry in the camps can be a little messier and the missionaries in the area have worked hard with a steep trial and error curve. People do not want to hear about Jesus without it being partnered with some other kind of aid. The refugees there need to see Jesus working in front of them and then become open to hearing the word.


    A missionary friend who helps teach local churches about discipleship using Discovery Bible Studies asked me to help them distribute beds, heaters, blankets, and clothes to a camp in preparation for the winter months. In order to have this opportunity, most of this work had to happen before hand:

  1. We had to partner with a local Lebanese missionary in the Bekaa region.
  2. He had to coordinate with the local camp leader to allow us in.
  3. We had to set up a system to keep there from being a stampede on the physical needs we brought causing the gospel to be ignored.
  4. The Lebanese contact had to go a week before and get orders for the needs
  5. We had to order 200 mattresses, bushels of blankets, piles of clothes, and crates of heaters that had to be not just cheap but quality and usable in the camp
  6. 2 huge transport trucks had to be convinced to drive 2 hours from Beirut to a refugee camp where trucks have been overrun in the past.
  7. And all this had to happen before sundown when the camps become dangerous

For some it is hard to see how doing all of this could be part of the Great Commission. In reality this is much of what we do as missionaries. We spend time setting up sustainable systems that can be utilized to help share the Gospel more effectively.


    This is not only true for general ministry, but personally it is easy to get so overwhelmed with the logistical concerns of living overseas that it can actually detract from ministry. This is where we need help. If any of the following are part of your gifting: Maintaining accountability in ministry, confirming and encouraging spiritual growth, managing business affairs, or attending to personal details, then you are a person who could bless us with your logistical skills. It is these things that seem small that actually make the ministry run and stay long-term.

 

 

Jesus frequently uses questions to help us understand His teachings. Each week we will have three questions for personal reflection. Use these to help guide and challenge your own personal application for the section.

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The Need for Senders on the Mission Field

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We are diving in this week by answering the first important question: Why? Why do we need to send missionaries to reach the lost around the world? Why does the church need to be part of the fabric of a missionary’s life? Why is important to support the mission when things are going well and when suffering abounds? It is by answering these questions that God called me overseas to begin ministry, but we need the answers to produce longevity and health to weather the storms of mission life.


The diagram from the book helps to outline a general timeline for the life of a missionary and has been a fairly accurate representation of our lives so far:


In order to better understand why we need help from our senders I want to share how you all have helped us so far. So we are going to focus on Departure through Clear Vision Regained (D-F).

The last two years have been tumultuous as many of you already know. Many Western missionaries have pre-established cultures of sending local missionaries overseas long term and short term. We were blessed with being surrounded by church communities that had a passion for community outreach and discipleship but had not yet fully developed a structure for supporting international partners. So after a year of support raising we were only half funded and by faith went trusting that God would provide no matter what. We just didn’t know all that “no matter what” entailed.

Over the last two years: We haven’t lived in one place for longer than 6 months and usually for no more than one, our electrical breakers blew up in Annie’s face, our water would shut off for days at a time, our internet will turn off for days at a time, Annie got pregnant that turned a 2 month trip into a 1 year trip, Kyrie was born with a rare unforeseeable non-genetic birth defect, we spent half the year on separate continents, the insurance cancelled Kyrie’s surgery three days before it was planned, and, oh yeah, the second day we came to Lebanon the first time, Davey stopped breathing for 5 minutes after a seizure and didn’t wake up for 6 hours.

So you could say that reality set in. In fact reality came like a tidal wave and crushed what was supposed to be the honeymoon period. Seeing as we spent our actual honeymoon leading a mission trip to Detroit, MI it seems fitting. The only reason we are still on the field and beginning to regain a clear vision for the future is because of our sending team.

When Annie was stuck in the states dozens of people gathered around her to care for her and throw her an unexpected baby shower (the only event in our lives we didn’t plan ourselves). When Davey went to the hospital, hundreds of people broke out in prayer for days and continued to Skype us through the worst days following. Over the last year we didn’t lose one supporter no matter how long the insurance company made us stay waiting for a surgery that would never happen. This is unheard of in many mission support communities.

We need you to help us. The ministry here depends on your help and support. Many of you have helped disciple us for years upon years. Our gratitude in ineffable and we are asking you to continue this love and affection even though we are far away.

Jesus frequently uses questions to help us understand His teachings. Each week we will have three questions for personal reflection. Use these to help guide and challenge your own personal application for the section.

  1. In what ways do you feel part of cross-cultural missions by being a sender of missionaries?
  1. Who are those in your church & community having to adapt to a new culture?
  1. How can you be Christ’s hands and feet in the lives of those who have been entered your church & community

If you missed last week’s Introduction Post CLICK HERE. Each Thursday we will post the next chapter for a total of 8 weeks of posting. CLICK HERE to purchase Serving as Senders from Amazon.

Serving as Senders Introduction


Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking through the book Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo. We have found that many people on our sending team have been amazing at sending us to the mission field but were left asking, “What do we do now? How can we support the Lisses now that they are in Lebanon?” Each week we will be sharing stories and how we are personally in need of help from our local churches. If you have already purchased a book they are available in the church offices at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church and Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church. If you want a book they are available at these locations as well as available to be purchased at Amazon.com and for Kindle download. You can also follow this blog each week for practical applications.


Early in our marriage Annie would come home from teaching and I would usually be studying for class. She would politely ask me a question about my day and how seminary classes were going and I would answer congenially. She then went into the bedroom to shower and change for the evening. When she returned she would ask me a follow up question from before she left, and I would strain to remember what she was talking about. She then would ask, “Do remember what we were talking about?”

I had moved on in my mind and panicked to try and recall the simple exchange we had just had. Seeing the blank look I was giving her she continued to ask, “When I leave the room do you still think about me?” I was too young to understand that this quickly went from a harmless interchange to an emotionally charged snare that I was about to barrel into. I innocently shared that, “I am intently focused on you when we are together, and once you leave I give the same laser focus to whatever is in front of me then.”

My young bride obviously did not receive this with the same calm composure that I was trying to encourage. Instead she felt hurt. She shared that when she left in the morning she thought about what I would be doing that day. During the day she was thinking about what we would be doing when we reunited. When she came home she checked in with me and then began to reevaluate how my check in affected the plans for the evening.

I had to confess that I thought about her much the way that I think about most people: When they’re in front of me. Our challenge for this study is to be more like Annie and less like me. We are so blessed by everyone in the states when we are there but feel the void when we are overseas. Most missionaries update their supporters 2-4 times a year, but we have made a commitment to stay in contact every month so that we can build up community. We have tried to make this study as practical as possible with clear applications. If you have any thoughts or questions in the coming weeks please share them with us so this can be as interactive as possible.


Jesus frequently uses questions to help us understand His teachings. Each week we will have three questions for personal reflection. Use these to help guide and challenge your own personal application for the section.

  1. In what ways do you feel like you are already blessing those who serve cross-culturally?
  1. How has having a global view of God’s work affected your own walk with Christ?
  1. Who are people in your own church & community that would benefit from seeing what God is doing around the world as well as across the street?