Not infrequently, people think they can only participate in ends-of-the-world evangelism by flying to another country. They are wrong. "Going" is just one avenue of world missions involvement. Indeed, those who leave home to become career missionaries need a cadre of consecrated and zealous supporters back home.
A few years ago, Steven Hawthorne wrote a chapter in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement about those who support the "Go-ers" (as he called missionaries). Hawthorne, who grew up in a Nazarene parsonage, gave the title "Senders" to this chapter. He noted that the Apostle Paul may have been thinking of human Senders as well as God when he rhetorically asked: "How can they preach unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:15)
The Apostle John was certainly clear in his encouragement to people to become Senders for missionaries. The Amplified Bible renders verse 7 and part of verse 8 in Third John as: "For these [traveling missionaries] went out for the sake of the Name [of Christ]. So we ought to support such people [welcoming them as guests and providing for them] ."
How do Senders support and take care of missionaries? Well, the Third John passage seems to refer to emotional and material support. The same is true of Paul's words to the Romans about a planned trip to Spain (Romans 15:241). To be sure, money -- lots of it -- is needed in world evangelism. However, Senders can and must do more than give money. As one example, the Apostle Paul, a person whom many consider one of the Church's greatest missionaries, often requested prayer for his ministry from his Senders (see Romans 15:30, 2 Corinthians 2:11, Ephesians 6:19-20, Philippians 1:19, Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, and Philemon 3:2).
R. A. Torrey, the founding head of Moody Bible Institute, believed that prayer support for missionaries was even more important than finances. Torrey once wrote: "The man or woman at home who prays often has as much to do with the effectiveness of the missionary on the field, and consequently with the results of his or her labors, as the missionary."
In addition to money and prayer, Senders contribute to Great Commission fulfillment in ways ranging from keeping missions bulletin boards updated to locating and shipping needed equipment and supplies to missionaries. Indeed, a variety of gifts and talents can be used to facilitate the work of missionaries serving far away.
Here are half a dozen areas in which Senders can support missionaries:
Senders have been known to be so passionate about supporting missionaries that they adjust their lifestyles to pray more, serve more, and give more. Be a Sender. Impact the "ends of the Earth" from your own doorstep.
-- Howard Culbertson,
"Senders must be purposeful and prayerful regarding the person in the field and the people in the culture receiving the missionary." -- Steven G., Nazarene Bible College student
1"When I go to Spain. I hope to . . . .have you assist me on my journey there." -- Romans 15:34
This mini-essay on a key issue in world missions outreach is an article in the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage magazine.