We pastors and local churches have certain obligations to our missionaries that we should not take lightly. Many do, to our undying shame. Here are a least six:
We Owe You Intense, Unfailing Prayer Support. The work is God’s and the sufficiency to do the work is from God. Jesus said “without me, you can do nothing,” which is pretty heavy. So we need to be praying hard for our missionaries. In all likelihood, their effectiveness may be directly proportional to the time and effort we put in to prayer.
We Owe You Our Allegiance. We are loyal to our friends and colleagues and pastors. The love and appreciation that this church extends to her pastors should include her missionaries since they are extensions of the pastoral staff. We recognize that we are to honor those who serve and we are to give double honor to those who serve well.
We owe you adequate funding. Paul says that those who labor in the gospel should make a living of the gospel. We agree with that. Our commitment should always be taking care of our own before taking on new. Our commitment is to stretch ourselves the best we can to keep you on the field without having to worry about finances. We should attempt to keep up with your financial needs, and your shortfalls in support should always be met in our budget first before we ever take on anyone new. We owe you that.
We owe you sanctuary. I think of Jesus being able to retreat to the house of his friends in Bethany, Mary and Martha and Lazarus, for a safe place to rest and fellowship. I think of the widow who had a room built on the top of her house for the prophet Elisha to stay in when he was traveling in the area. I think of Paul and the many who refreshed him (listed in Romans 16). And I think of Gaius who cared for the missionaries and equipped them and supplied them for their journeys. It seems that since we as a church have committed ourselves to these servants, we owe them the same. When you need a place to recuperate and heal and be restored, you should be able to look to your supporting churches. We should take care of you and resupply you and restore you to the best of our ability. We owe you that.
We owe you the confidence that we are doing here the same things we are expecting you to do there. We are not hypocrites—paying you to evangelize and make disciples as a way of getting the blood off our hands vicariously. We owe you the solemn assurance that we are on the same page with you…that our hearts beat with the same desire that your heart beats with.
While you are back serving in your various cultures—evangelizing, discipling, starting churches, training leaders—be assured that our hearts are with you because those are exactly the things we are committed to accomplishing right here while you’re gone.
We Owe You helpers. God never expected any of his servants to labor without help. He gave Moses Aaron; he gave David Jonathan; he gave Elijah Elisha; Daniel had three friends with him; Paul had his Timothy; Jesus had his twelve…and those he sent out two by two.
We owe it to you to be raising up helpers and replacements for you; young men and women who have been groomed by this church body to take their places next to you in the field of battle. We owe it to you to exalt the work of missions and inspire them to this lofty work.
It’s the least we can do.
We owe you all this and more, and we do not take these duties lightly. By God’s grace, we will fulfill our commitments to you while you are gone. Before God, you can count on us.