When it comes to missions, there are many different roles involved (shout-out to all of the finance and administrative people that help make it all happen!). However, when you really step back from it all, missions can for the most part be boiled down into two main roles: the goer and the sender.
Many of us are familiar with the goer. Some more well-known ones are the apostle Paul, William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot.... The list goes on. The goers are the ones who go to the mission field to engage with the ministry there. Some goers even display tell-tale signs, as exemplified in the video :)
I myself am a goer. In a couple of months I'll be getting on a plane that will touch down onto South African soil, the soil that I'll be sinking my toes into for the next two years of my life. I will be the one meeting the locals. Eating the food. Partaking in the local culture. Learning bits of the various national languages. Undergoing the challenges of cross-cultural adjustment. Doing the physical ministry in South Africa. Sometimes I sit here in wonder that I am the one that the Lord has chosen to go and do this.
But, even after lots of emails and research and Skype calls, I still do not exactly what awaits me on the other side of the ocean. There are many unknowns, and much of what will be a part of my experience as a goer will be discovered in certainties only once I am there. But there are some things that I know to be absolutely true, one being that the Lord is behind me, and that He has called me into such a season and ministry as this. And that is enough for me. But I also know something else....
I know that I could not do what I am about to do without you, the sender. Yeah that's right, YOU. Go head, give yourself a self-five. Why, you ask? Because you're awesome!
Like many of the goers listed above, I have a team of senders behind me. Paul had the many churches that he wrote letters to in the New Testament. William Carey had supporters whom he clearly valued and needed as exemplified in his following statement to them: "I will descend into the pit, if you will hold tightly to the ropes."
As a sender, you are an invaluable and essential part of my journey as a goer. I think that the role of the missionary or the goer can sometimes tend to be romanticized. It is certainly a blessed calling, but one cannot underestimate the value of the sender. The prayers, wisdom, financial support, friendship, and encouragement that you give are like priceless jewels.
Amidst the craziness of fundraising, getting a visa, packing, and preparing myself spiritually among many other things, it is a huge blessing to have you speak into my life as the sender. You are able to see things and hear things from the Lord that I cannot. You remind me of His faithfulness. You exemplify His kindness and wisdom. Your humor in tough situations remind me that He is a good Father. Your prayers and words bring to mind His plan and His promises.Your financial sacrifices speak of the generosity and support of the body of Christ that no span of ocean can ever hinder or obstruct. Any compassion, love, hope, or joy that the Lord allows me to extend to the people that I will be ministering to is an extension of the love, compassion, hope, and joy that the Lord has extended to me through you.
I cannot understate the following: every step of this journey that I take, you walk with me. Every person I touch, you touch with me. Every life that is turned around or redeemed or given new hope is because of what the Lord will do with the sacrifices that you have made. This is first and foremost the Lord's ministry, but He has graciously allowed you and I to be a part of it.
I am so glad that the Lord doesn't just work through goers, because I honestly don't think very much would get done. It takes so much more than one person getting on a plane. It takes that person on a plane, plus the people behind them that are giving to them, praying for them, and fighting on their behalf spiritually. Missions is a battlefield. But I do not enter the fight alone. Thank you for standing with me. For choosing to send me. For submitting yourselves as a sender into the Lord's hands, that He may work through you. I pray that you understand the beautiful role that you play as the sender, and how the Lord delights to use your faithfulness for His Kingdom work. Thank you for your partnership. I am one very lucky goer. And call me biased, but y'all are the best looking' support team that I've ever seen ;)