ebook: Mr. Missionary, I Have a Question (part 6)

Chapter 6. Missionaries, Mail, and Men -- Some answers

In this book, Howard Culbertson answers questions that were asked in church services across the United States during a home assignment year. Originally published for the Nazarene Missions International mission book series by what is now called The Foundry, this book carried ISBN number 083-411-1519

How would you describe Nazarene missionary strategy?
The Church of the Nazarene views its missionaries as assault troops. We are not occupation forces. We go to establish a beachhead. We are not carving out lifelong niches for ourselves. In attempting to establish that beachhead, often we are able to link up with the resistance fighters already in battle (local indigenous holiness groups).

Establishing a beachhead means trying to plant churches in new areas. These churches are then organized into districts. Our task involves supporting ministries such as Bible colleges to train church leaders. As these leaders mature, Nazarene missionaries are free to move into unreached areas and begin the cycle anew. Our goal is to make disciples who will themselves continue the disciple-making process.

In this battle -- just as in a war -- there are problems of under-supply in some areas and oversupply in others. We do make miscalculations and sometimes give confusing orders. Overall, however, the battle is proceeding well. The people called Nazarenes are on the march around the world. Every year more people are hearing the holiness message. [ mission strategy in Haiti ]
Do we still have plenty of young people applying for missionary service?
The Church of the Nazarene actually has an abundance of those who feel called to be cross-cultural missionaries. Our limiting factor to the expansion of our missionary force today is not willing applicants, but funds to send these new missionaries. The application forms come not only from young people but also from older folk seeking short-term specialized assignments.

Missionary applicants are now coming from those countries that were once viewed as "mission fields" placed in a category separate from the sending countries. The internationalization of the Church of the Nazarene is making us even more of a true missionary-sending church. More than a fifty nationalities are now represented in the Nazarene missionary force of over 600. Our missionary team in Haiti comes from four different nations.
Do you foresee the day when we will be sending missionaries to the United States from other countries?
We cannot neatly divide the world into "sending' and "receiving" countries. Missionaries from all six continents should be commissioned to serve in all of the six continents — including North America. Churches in areas that have been receiving countries must soon become sending churches. If not, they will remain stunted spiritually. The Great Commission was given to the whole church; the whole church must respond. As a global family of God's people, we must unite in a common vision of sharing the Good News to the whole world. This means that Nazarenes in India will be just as concerned about evangelizing lost Americans as the North American Nazarenes have been concerned about evangelizing India.

Missionaries are people who reach across cultural and linguistic boundaries with the gospel. We are discovering that there are many cultural and linguistic borders to be crossed even in the United States. Missionaries and mission methods must be used to reach many groups of people living within each country. These missionaries need not necessarily be United States citizens nor would it be a negative reflection on American Nazarenes if the church commissioned missionaries from other countries to help evangelize pagan United States cities and reach untouched minority groups with the gospel of full salvation.

Some United States districts are using veteran cross-cultural missionaries to direct their ethnic evangelism thrusts. Robert and Norma Brunson, missionaries to Latin America and the Middle East, worked for a while in multi-ethnic ministries in the Chicago area. The Hubert Hellings, former missionaries in Japan, planted churches among ethnic minorities on the Washington Pacific District.
Do you have to raise your own financial support?
Many missionaries have to raise their own financial support. That is, prior to going to their assignment, these missionaries must get pledges from family, friends, and local churches. These pledges must indicate that there will be personal financial support each month for the missionary. Nazarene missionaries do not raise their own support in this manner.

Nazarene missionaries are part of a team. We are not isolated individuals trying to go to another country on our own. Nazarene churches all over the world have banded together to commission Nazarene missionaries through the Nazarene General Board. Nazarene churches have pooled their prayer and financial resources to support their missionaries.

I like being part of such a team. I believe it is in keeping with the biblical concept of the Church as the Body of Christ. I also believe it assures the most effective use of mission money. [ Nazarene missions funding ]

When Nazarene missionaries are on home assignment (once called "furlough"), they speak in deputation services and receive special offerings for equipment needs in their mission work. Their basic financial support and field operating budgets, however, are secured from the Nazarene World Evangelism Fund. One of the main responsibilities of missionaries on home assignment is to report back to fellow Nazarenes on what their World Evangelism Fund funds are doing in world evangelization.
     Nazarene missionaries do not raise their own support. Thousands of pastors and volunteers in NMI groups all around the world raise our missionary support as they encourage their local church to pick up its share of the Nazarene World Evangelism Fund.
How much of our mission money actually gets to you?
The Church of the Nazarene is very open about its finances. We have no secrets. Nazarene World Evangelism Fund funds finance almost all the ministries of the general Church of the Nazarene, including world mission expenditures. Nazarene World Evangelism Fund funds also help pay for Nazarene radio and television ministries as well as some projects in North America. Future pastors and evangelists are trained at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City and at the Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs with assistance from World Evangelism Fund dollars.

World Evangelism Fund assists in paying for such items as Nazarene World Youth Conferences, Nazarene military personnel retreats in Europe and Asia, evangelism conferences, PALCON meetings for pastors in North America, and much more.
More Nazarene World Evangelism Fund dollars, however, are spent on world missions than on any other ministry. It is this strong support from every local church that enabled our denomination to expand into 75 world areas in its first 75 years of existence (we're now in almost 150 world areas).

In addition, because World Evangelism Fund cares for administrative costs, every dollar given for specific missionary projects like Alabaster and Approved Specials can go to these projects.

Hunger and Disaster Fund, as well as Work & Witness dollars go directly for missions. Deputation offerings received by missionaries on home assignment go 100 percent to that missionary for equipment expenses. [ very first Work & Witness project ]
Links is an attempt to personalize a local church's involvement in Nazarene missions. The word was originally an acronym. It stood for Loving,Interested Nazarenes Knowing and Sharing. However, acronyms don't translate at all into other languages. So, now it's just "Links" as in "linking us together." At its best the Links program has forged some extremely close ties between local churches and missionary families. Links missionaries have come to feel that they really have been adopted by local churches and districts. [ more on Links ]
How many years does it take to become a missionary?
The Church of the Nazarene believes that its missionaries must have a divine call to missionary service. Missionary candidates are also required to seek the best possible academic preparation for their assignment, whether they are planning to be medical, educational, or church planting missionaries. The World Mission Department of the General Board believes as well that it is important that all missionary candidates have had experience in their occupation before being sent to a mission assignment. A minimum of two years of practical experience is required.

If the missionary candidate is applying to be an educational missionary, at least two years of teaching experience is required. If the missionary is applying to be a preaching and church planting missionary, the General Board requires the candidate to be an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. One of the requirements for ordination is a minimum of two years of ministerial service.

So when the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene commissions a missionary, it wants to be sure that person will already have had special training as well as at least two years of practical experience in his or her specialty.

It does not take forever to become a Nazarene missionary. Most Nazarene missionaries leave for their first mission assignment before they are 30 years of age; however, being a Nazarene missionary does mean that one has given time to extensive preparation as well as gaining practical experience.
Don't you find that deputation work on home assignment is tiring?
Nazarene missionaries usually spend four years in a mission assignment followed by a year of home assignment in their homeland. During that home assignment, the missionaries travel to Nazarene churches to speak about their work and to report on Nazarene involvement in the world mission program.

Although deputation work is a different kind of ministry than serving in a mission assignment, ii is nevertheless a ministry. Nazarene missionaries do not disappear into some remote corner of the globe, never to be heard from again. A part of their work is to spread the missionary vision among fellow Nazarenes through deputation services.
     Deputation means traveling thousands of miles. It means eating lots of potluck dinners. It also means watching new Nazarenes get excited for the first time about the world outreach of our church. Deputation is helping someone come alive to the work of the international team of which all Nazarenes are a part. Deputation is talking with a young person about a missionary call, knowing that perhaps someday that young person may be serving in a mission assignment. Deputation can be a very exhilarating experience.
Weren't the Terry Reads in Haiti?
Terry and Joan Read spent almost 10 years as missionaries in Haiti. During that time, Terry was mission director and Joan directed the medical ministries program. Since that time the Reads have given missionary service to countries in South America and in Africa.
Didn't the Walt Crows spend some years in Haiti?
Walter and Linda Crow were Nazarene missionaries in Haiti in the 1960s and 1970s. Mrs. Linda Crow has authored a couple of books on Nazarene missions in Haiti. They worked in building construction, publications, and the Bible school work.

After a brief interlude of pastoring in Texas, the Crows pioneered the beginning of the Church of the Nazarene in France. In 1982, Rev. Crow was elected president of European Nazarene Bible College located near Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The school serves as the training institution for Nazarene ministry in all of Europe.
Since there are Haitian district superintendents, what does a mission director do?
The mission council director had a twofold ministry. He or she is responsible to see that every missionary assigned to the mission council has a fruitful and rewarding ministry. In some respects, the director is the senior pastor for the missionary team. The director helps to set the spiritual tone for the missionary ministry. He or she helps to choose goals and works with individual missionaries to see that those goals are met.

To help meet these goals, the director works with the mission council in preparing the annual budget requests that must be submitted to the World Mission Department.

The mission director also works closely with the emerging national church. The mission director helps channel the processes of indigenization and contextualization as the national church shoulders more and more responsibilities.

For a while Haiti actually had two mission councils: the Theological Education Council and the Church Growth/Compassionate Ministries Council. The Theological Education Council cared for the resident Bible college and the Pastoral Extension Training program. The Church Growth / Compassionate Ministries Council worked in the area of district and local church development as well as directing the medical and nutritional programs.
It seems like the general church moves Nazarene missionaries around a lot. Why is that?
An interesting change had taken place in the past several years. In the United States, Nazarene pastors used to follow a custom of moving from one church to another every three or four years. Missionaries, on the other hand, expected to stay at one post a whole lifetime. Now U.S. pastors are being encouraged to stay in local churches for a longer time, while missionaries have become much more mobile and transient.

One of the reasons for today's missionaries being so mobile is the ease of world travel. Another is that the focus of our missionary work had changed from establishing large mission stations to developing growing national districts.

National churches and districts are assuming responsibilities and ministries that missionaries have been carrying. When that happens, it has seemed a wise use of our resources to transfer these missionaries to some place where their particular gifts and talents can be used to develop another thriving national church.

Veteran Nazarene missionary Earl Mosteller is a prime example of this pattern. He was the classic "assault troop" missionary. He spent the first few years of his missionary career in the Cape Verde Islands. He was then asked to begin Nazarene work in Brazil. As the work blossomed there, it became apparent that his pioneer gifts could be used elsewhere. So the General Board asked him to move to Portugal, where the beginning of the Nazarene work got off to a fast start under his leadership. When the church began thinking about starting Nazarene work in the Azores, it once again turned to Dr. Mosteller. That was Earl Mosteller's gift: pioneer missionary. He would have wasted some of that unique gift if he had remained in Cape Verde all of those years.

Of course, there are also other reasons for missionary transfers. Sometimes missionary health problems require a change to a new location. Sometimes older missionaries are transferred to a less rigorous post in order to prolong their career. Sometimes political upheavals make missionary transfers necessary. In other cases, a particular field may be facing problems that need strong leadership and unusual wisdom. The World Mission Department may prefer to send a veteran missionary to give guidance during such times. There are many, many reasons for a missionary transfer, but you can be sure that in each case you will find the church's prayerful attempt to discern God's will for a particular missionary and for the developing national church.
What can men do in the local church to promote missions?
Too many Nazarene men are still sitting on the sidelines in the cause of world evangelism. Every local church needs some clear examples of men whose hearts are aflame with a passion to reach the unreached of our world. Men can model the burden that sanctified believers ought to carry for lost people everywhere. A man's informed, unceasing, untiring support of missions can be contagious within his family circle as well as within his local church.

Within your own family, you can foster a concern for Nazarenes worldwide as you participate in family worship times. Help your children learn to pray for people of other countries. After watching the international news on television or reading the newspaper, lead your family in praying for Nazarene work in the countries making that day's headlines.

You can ignite a missionary vision in your family through the direction of the discussion at the evening dinner table. In addition to sports, politics, the weather, and school, put world missions on your subject list. As you discuss family finances, make clear your commitment to world missions. Help your children understand that what you give to missions is not just excess pocket change. Make it clear that you are consciously directing some of your family's financial resources toward world evangelism.

Use these same methods for modeling your burden for missions in your local church. As you have opportunities to pray in public, pray for specific needs in world mission areas. Let fellow believers also hear you pray for those people to whom the Church of the Nazarene has not yet gone.

As you discover the wonderful things God is doing around the world through the Church of the Nazarene, take opportunities in prayer meetings and other groups to share your discoveries. In Sunday School classes and elsewhere, try to help other Nazarenes see the world from a missionary point of view.

In addition to being a role model for missions concern, you may also be able to counsel a young person concerning his or her career. Encourage your own children and other young people you know to seriously seek God's will for their lifework. Pray with them as they try to see where they fit into God's plan for world evangelism. It's not a question of "called or not called." It's a question of what God wants you to do to help fulfill His Great Commission.

Be alert as well to Work and Witness project opportunities. Your personal involvement in helping build a church, parsonage, or a Bible school building will not only affect your life, but also touch those of your family and your church.

Finally, give some thought to what you will do when you retire. Today's pension plans make it feasible for some businessmen and tradesmen to retire early and thus have years of valuable service to give to the Lord without needing to raise much additional funds. Perhaps your income and health would permit you to give some time to actual mission involvement. If that might be a possibility, contact the World Mission Division at the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kansas, USA. There just might be a place of service for you.
I've heard that some missionaries have luxurious homes. Is that true?
I believe you would be pleased -- probably even humbled -- by the life-style that your missionaries have chosen to accept in helping you carry out your responsibilities in evangelizing the world. Missionary homes are not luxurious; they are modest and adequate for their ministry.

Many missionaries are quite creative in furnishing and decorating their homes. As a result, an extremely modest home is often transformed into something a tourist may mistake for a luxury home. My wife, Barbara, is a gifted home decorator. Here in Haiti we live in a very simple, concrete block building which they told us had originally been automotive garage for the missionaries. Barbara transformed it into a beautiful home.

Tourists also have trouble judging buildings in other countries. Tourists were often awestruck when they saw our marble floor in Florence, Italy. Actually, they were the cheapest kind of marble available. Wood floors in Italy are a luxury addition to a home. The Italians pitied us for our cheap floors. Americans thought we were living in luxury.
Do you have electricity and running water?
We live in a suburb of the capital city, so our home is connected to the city water supply. We do, however, have to keep extra water stored in cisterns for use in emergency situations.

We get our electricity from a government generating plant. We also have a diesel generator on the Bible college campus for use during blackout times. We cook with bottled propane gas.
Shouldn't you be living in homes without running water in order to better reach the people of your country?
Through the centuries, Christian missionaries have often debated how they can best bond themselves to the people they are trying to evangelize and disciple.

Acceptance of extremely primitive living conditions would, of course, expose the missionary to debilitating diseases that could shorten his missionary ministry and career. In 1983 the life expectancy for the average Haitian was 48 years. The missionary would also be forced to give much of his time in survival activities such as carrying water for long distances.

Our denomination has followed the lead of other evangelical missionary organizations in trying to provide a level of living that gives the missionary adequate time for the ministry for which he is called, gifted, and trained. The church seeks to safeguard missionaries' health so that careers are as long as possible.
Do you have air-conditioning in your home?
Even though Haiti is a tropical country, we do not have air-conditioning in our home here. For the most part, missionary homes in Haiti have big windows to let in the breezes. We also rely on fans to keep cool.
Do you have servants?
We employ some part-time help. To free us for more mission involvement, we employ a Haitian lady part-time to assist with the marketing as well as doing some cleaning and cooking. She also does some occasional baby-sitting. Along with another missionary family, we employ a man to work in the yard and garden. I would hesitate to call Yves or Marie "servants." If I understand Scripture correctly, we are all to be servants to each other and the our King.
What changes do you see in the United States when you come back on home assignment?
The standard of living in the U.S. seems to continue upward with each passing year. Each time we see lots of technological changes evident. One time, for instance, mushroom-like satellite dishes had sprouted in yards all across the country. Another time it was the comeback of the old-time ceiling fans -- not only in homes but also in churches and other public buildings.

In the church, I have sensed a new interest in planting new congregations. Naturally, I pray that this interest continues to grow. Growth in the church in my homeland will mean more mission prayer involvement, more mission finances, and more missionary recruits for our world mission effort.
Did you take a car from the U.S. when you went to Haiti?
After our arrival in Haiti, we purchased a four-wheel-drive Daihatsu. This jeep-type vehicle is manufactured in Japan. It can take us over most any of the graveled, rough, mountainous roads here.

To be sure, vehicles can be purchased cheaper in the United States than in Haiti. However, by the time the customs charges and shipping costs are added, the price of the vehicle purchased in the U.S. will up being greater than one purchased in Haiti.
I read about some lady who goes to other countries and tells Bible stories to the children there. Could I come to Haiti and do that?
Telling Bible stories through an interpreter to children in other countries may sound like a romantic ministry, but I'm not certain it is the most effective contribution you could make to world evangelism.

A pioneering child-evangelism work would probably best be done among some of the unreached people groups of the world where as yet no church has been started. In Haiti child evangelism is directed by hundreds of Haitian Nazarenes. They speak the language fluently and can identify completely with Haitian children.

Your most effective contribution to world evangelism might be getting involved in the children's ministry in your local church. You could be the key to making them lifelong mission "fanatics." Some could be future mission prayer warriors. Some could become strong mission financial supporters. Some could become career missionaries.

Such a contribution would be far more lasting than anything you could do as an "excursion missionary" working through an interpreter in brief encounters with children of another culture. . . . [ more ]

  Page:   ←Prev    |   Preface  |    1. Hawaii, Garden Hoes, and Holiness   |   2. Creole, Christopher Columbus, and the  Citadel  |    3. Regional Directors, Demons, and the  Dominican Republic  |    4. Mangoes, Malnutrition, and Modernization   |    5. Rice Christians, Churches, and Caravan   |    6. Missionaries, Mail, and Men   |    Epilogue  |    Next→ 


chapterWe fell in love, discovered we shared a sense of call and commitment to world missions, and were married . . . . [ more ]

ebooks:    Alfredo Del Rosso, an Italian captivated by a vision     God's Bulgarian tapestry   The Kingdom strikes back: Signs of the Messiah at work in Haiti     Paul McGrady, Mr. Evangelism     Our balanced attack: How Nazarenes finance world evangelism     Pasta, pizza and Pinocchio    Jonah, the reluctant missionary     Rookie notebook: Our first nine months as missionaries in Italy    Other books and articles

10/40 Window explanation and map     Seeking God's will?    Mission trip fundraising    Nazarene Missions International resources