Never Let Go!
A little over five years ago we sent out our first missionary family and a year later our second family. These men are a part of our staff, and what they do is our ministry. Therefore, we maintain close communication with them, assist them with direction, vision, strategizing, advice, etc. just like we do others who minister here alongside us.
Unlike those who minister here with me locally, our missionaries are not here and, therefore, experience a different culture, teammates, etc. than we do. They are separated from family, friends, cultures, and other familiar things. In spite of communicating with them weekly and visiting with them, it is still more challenging to know where how to assist them. When our first couple returned after nearly five years, I had them come in for a debriefing. This is something that some sending pastors may leave to the mission agency, but I strongly believe that we, too, must do this as we are the ones that are first and foremost responsible for them. After all, their ministry is OUR ministry!
I drafted questions that would help me evaluate where they were spiritually, in ministry, culturally, attitudes toward their new culture, language, family, ministry, and teammates. After a couple of hours I was more enlightened on where how we could better serve them and prepare them for their second term. I was also encouraged with the quality of this couple. Not only that, but they mentioned to me how encouraging this time had been for them! It demonstrated to them that we mean it when we say their ministry is OUR ministry, and it demonstrated to them that we care about them, their family and ministry. It demonstrated to them that we are in this with them.
It has been a joy to continue to minister to this family as we have opportunity between their travels. They also are ministering to us as they see needs physically and spiritually and just jump in. While they are here living in the church house, it is our desire to encourage them, refresh them and continue to equip them. We are and will continue to spend time discussing issues, ministry, goals, etc. as we seek to prepare for the next 4 years.
Seeing the ministry of raising up our own to establish churches around the world as our responsibility causes us to disciple believers, train leaders, send some of them around the world, and maintain constant contact for the purpose of encouragement, and equipping. When they return we have the responsibility of debriefing so we can effectively charge their batteries and refresh their spirit. And we do!
The point is this: as sending churches, we must NEVER LET GO! As long as they are our sent missionaries, their ministry is our ministry, their spiritual wellbeing and other things is our concern, and we will always have a responsibility for them far beyond praying and financially supporting them!
NEVER LET GO!
Michael Bender, Mottville Bible Church
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