SERVING AS SENDERS ~ TODAY
Twentieth Anniversary Edition Revised & Expanded
Chapter 1 The Need for Senders
Chapter 2 Moral Support
Chapter 3 Logistics Support
Chapter 4 Financial Support
Chapter 5 Prayer Support
Chapter 6 Communication Support
Chapter 7 Reentry Support
Chapter 8 Your Part in the Big Picture
Group Leader's Guide
I sat in the upper level of the auditorium at the University of Illinois in Urbana, listening to the heavyweights of the evangelical community challenge 17,000 college students to a vital and personal commitment to world evangelization. It was InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference.
I must admit I had begun daydreaming when all of a sudden there was the statement: “In secular war, for every one person on the front line of battle, there are nine others backing him up in what is called the ‘line of communication.’”
The concept exploded in my mind like a mortar shell! The speaker had been drawing a parallel between secular war and the spiritual warfare that accompanies cross-cultural ministry. He continued, “And how can we expect to win with any less than that ratio? God is not looking for Lone Rangers or Superstars; He is commanding an army—soldiers of the Cross.”
I said, “Thank You, Lord, for that confirmation!” At that time I was directing a one-year ministry school, which had a strong emphasis on cross-cultural outreach. Though I had had no background in secular war, as soon as students applied to the school, I had been encouraging them to build around themselves a team of nine people who would support them in prayer, since enrolling in this school was saying to the enemy, “I am getting out of the pew and onto the battlefield!”
Since that evening at Urbana, with more vigor than ever, I have encouraged, exhorted—even implored—anyone going into cross-cultural outreach ministry to not leave home without a strong, committed support team—a group that accepts the ministry of serving as senders….
Through the years, some clarity has come to understand that there are four levels of member care:
• Agency Level
• Church Level
• Personal/Relational Level
• Crisis Level
Each level of care functions better at one point or another. And, as the first three fulfill their function in cooperation and harmony, there is a lesser need for the fourth level. Unfortunately, though, in every battle there are bound to be some casualties.
The principles of this volume touch primarily on the third level: Personal/Relational Care….
The Need for Senders
“And how shall they [go] preach except they are sent?”
“Beth! Wake up! Please, Beth! Wake up!” Beth’s roommate held the empty Valium bottle in her hand and knew Beth wouldn’t wake up. But instinct said to get help. The people in the next apartment helped her carry Beth to the car. A mile that seemed half way around the world brought them to the hospital. They pumped Beth’s stomach. She stirred and opened her eyes.
Months later Beth could talk about it:
“I had had a normal life before this. Friends, a loving family, a good church life. Basically, I was a happy person. I had been a professional for ten years. I had held reputable positions. I had managed people. And I had managed myself quite well...until this.
“I had just returned from a six-month missionary venture in Asia. My feelings were running rampant. Nostalgia flooded me as I remembered the good times; nightmares and flashbacks haunted me in the quiet solitude of night. Nobody was interested; nobody had time to hear what I had to say.
“I had just come from a fruitful experience as an administrative assistant in a medical clinic. Dumped back into the busy lifestyle of metropolitan Washington, D.C., I lost all sense of identity. Deepening feelings of isolation caused me to withdraw all the more.
“I thought if I got back into my work I could refocus my life. But the emotional instability mounted. One nightmare kept recurring:
“We had been in a village doing some medical work. Through the thundering of a tropical storm, I awoke to the sound of gunfire. Before I could go back to sleep, I saw them dragging the body of a man past the doorway of my hut. The story was that he had been caught in the fields stealing opium.
“Now back in D.C., I would awaken at night to the sounds in my brain of the pow-pow of the guns. And the whole ugly scene would flash through my mind again. I began using tranquilizers to control my instability. But before seven or eight in the evening, I was lost in anxiety, confusion, uncertainty—crying uncontrollably.
“Conversely, I also had a sense of ‘special’ knowledge. I was fulfilled by a good missionary experience. Hadn’t I been there? Hadn’t I been successful? Hadn’t I bonded with and nurtured Billy to health?
“We had been on our way home from some medical work in the hill country. Along the trail I stumbled on this three-month-old infant. His hands and feet were bound together with rope. He was addicted to opium. He was almost dead. We inquired as best we could whose son he was. The man who was thought to be the father was away on ‘business’ three to four weeks at a time. His mother already had four children under the age of five.
“It was probably this woman who had left him there to die. A couple hundred yards away was an abandoned hut. We said we would wait there until nighttime to talk with his mother. She never came. At the clinic we were able to give him the care needed. We called him Billy. A local Christian doctor eventually adopted him.
“I became hyper-vigilant about the great needs throughout the world. I felt a lot of anger toward people who wouldn’t let me talk about my experiences. My pastor wouldn’t let me share at church. No Sunday school class had the time for me. My parents couldn’t show enough interest to even look at my pictures. I became judgmental and condemning: ‘How can you be thinking about buying a new car when there are such great needs out there?’ But I couldn’t say any of that out loud. Hurt, fear, anger and guilt all turned inward in severe depression. I couldn’t sleep at night; I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I quit my job. I took more and more tranquilizers. I just wanted somebody to acknowledge that I was back home!
“One Sunday morning after church, I gathered the strength to again go to my pastor and say, ‘I am at the end of my rope! I think I’m losing it! I need your help!’ With his arm around me, he said, ‘Beth, I am busy. I am so tied up this week. But if you must, call my office to set an appointment for a week from Wednesday. Beth, if you would just get into the Word more....’
“Through the dazed fog of the existence I had been living in, all of a sudden it became crystal clear: ‘Pastor, I’m not worth your time!’ I had made other desperate calls to various counselors. One tried to date me. A psychiatrist had given my condition a fancy label. But now it was clear: ‘I’m not worth anybody’s time!’
“I decided to swallow the rest of the Valium pills.”
It would astound most Christians to hear missionaries honestly express their desperate need for support in one area or another. Most pleas aren’t as dramatic as Beth’s. Yet, too many cries for help do end in death. Each appeal speaks of a personal need to those who will come alongside them and serve as senders.
Missions should not just focus on those who go. Those who serve as senders are equally significant.
A Biblical Foundation