apoLuo WORKSHOP CONTENT #009: MAY I PRAY FOR YOU?
#9 of a series devoted to sending churches. The content of this post is adapted from BMW’s 6-hour apoLuo workshop. Numbered articles are intended to be read sequentially for maximum benefit.
What can your church do for your missionaries as they begin the support raising process? Everyone knows what needs to be done, but few may know where to start. Regardless of how much they may want to assist, people may feel helpless. But they can pray.
Richard Bewes has said, “We talk about ‘praying for the Work.’ The reality is that prayer is the work.”
“We talk about ‘praying for the Work.’ The reality is that prayer is the work.” ~ Richard Bewes
For what do you pray when your missionaries haven’t even unpacked the van they drove to Candidate Orientation? They don’t have any meetings scheduled. They may not have met their future co-workers—in fact, they may not even be sure to what country they’re headed. Their hearts are alternately filled with dreams and fears and excitement and dread. Their heads are engorged with two intense weeks’ worth of training they haven’t even had time to process.
Here are a few suggestions.
I’ve already mentioned BMW’s strategy to recruit at least 50,000 people who will intercede daily for our ministries and missionaries around the world. Now is the time for your missionaries to begin recruiting members for their own band of daily prayer warriors, people who will wage a persistent air war while the missionaries execute their ground assault. Your appointees have been trained and equipped to begin this process, and will be held accountable for their efforts. As their pastor, you can announce this ministry often from the pulpit and on other occasions. The very best people to serve as the first PrayerForce recruits are people from your missionaries’ families and sending church. You should join it yourself.
PRAY FOR WISDOM
Raising support is not a simple matter, and your appointees have been made aware of its complexities, challenges, demands and rewards. As they begin this exciting adventure, they will need great wisdom to know
- Whom they should have on their DEP Squad
- How to manage their time and order their priorities
- If, how and when to cut out the safety net of employment in order to go on deputation full-time
- What to do about their housing, especially if they’re still paying a mortgage or have a lease
- What to include in their presentation package
- How to clearly and passionately articulate their burden
- How to discern which potential partners should be pursued, and how to pursue them
- How to handle the effects of deputation on their family relationships
Your missionaries will expand this list during their first week back at your church!
PRAY FOR ENERGY
BMW’s DEPUTATION tactical team discovered two critical aspects of effective deputation in its research: effort and organization.
One cannot dabble in support raising and expect to get to the field. One spring I had an appointee (who had spent the winter months holed up in New England) tell me, “Our support just didn’t’ come in as quickly as we’d expected it to.” He and his wife resigned from the mission and went on to other things.
Support doesn’t just “come in”. True, God provides support in His time; but it doesn’t drop out of the sky. Deputation can be an intense, exhausting, demanding period in a missionary couple’s life. It may require people to expend energy they never knew they had, to do things of which they didn’t think themselves capable. But by God’s grace, it can be done and God can teach some valuable lessons in the process—one of which is that missionary life can be intense, exhausting and demanding!
A commitment to missions is not like getting a Nexus card so life can be expedited. Yet, it is an exhilarating ride in the grace and power of God, and people experience things on deputation that astound and energize them and leave them awestruck at God’s ability to orchestrate His work.
This doesn’t happen without effort. I’ve had appointees report that they were consistently contacting five new pastors each month and think they were doing well. The law of averages suggests that out of fifty new contacts, appointees might hear back from ten to fifteen pastors. Of those, they might be able to schedule meetings in three to five churches. Of those churches, one or two may actually become ministry partners.
Five contacts a month won’t cut it. Deputation cannot be a hobby. Your people can begin to pray now that your missionary appointees will have the energy, stamina and patience to be effective in this vital part of their missionary experience.
PRAY FOR STRATEGIC EFFECTIVENESS
Organization and a well-conceived support raising strategy was, as stated above, another key component to getting to the field in a timely fashion. Pray for creativity, for the ability to establish realistic goals and for faithfulness in following up and tracking contacts and nurturing relationships. (We require all BMW candidates to come to Candidate Orientation with TntMPD donor management software already downloaded on their computers, and we provide them with a quick-start seminar and lab in its use. Completing the 12-hour online tutorial provided by the software developers is one of the early tasks on BMW appointees’ Personal Development Plans.)
Establishing geographic hubs—starting with the 50-mile radius around your church—and planning support raising expeditions into those places will be necessary for an effective deputation ministry. Your church can begin praying now that God will enable your missionaries to create these hubs and nurture fruitful relationships within them.
Optimizing relationship building opportunities through pastors’ fellowships, conferences and conventions, Christian business gatherings and small groups is another thing you can bathe with prayer right now. Ask God to open doors in these groups so your missionaries can begin to form a network of interested, committed people who will become part of their—your—ministry team.
Don’t think that just because nothing has happened yet, there’s nothing to pray about. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Rob Heijermans, Biblical Ministries Worldwide