NOTE: The following article is written by Verna Lee Curry, head of the church's missions committee. If you are looking for ways to get involved in missions at Bayview Bible Church, contact the church through our website, or email Verna at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Astronauts and the Control Room
Opportunities abound for men and women who desire cross-cultural and political borders to share the Gospel. They are the goers—the missionaries. We esteem their willingness to go into uncharted territory, give up the nine-to-five workday and a regular salary and we welcome their visits to tell us their stories. But sometimes it’s difficult to get engaged with their work—to feel a part of what they’re doing—kind of one of those “out-of-sight” things.
As a child I remember watching the launch of a spaceship and the tense faces in the control room as it lifted off, and then the return and the splashdown and the camera panning the control room catching the shouts of joy and seeing the handshakes and smiles when the space mission was accomplished. The engineers weren’t the ones in space. Their names are unknown. But do not think for a minute that the astronauts' mission in space did not need the intelligence, talents and gifts of those in the control room. Do not think for a minute that those in the control room didn’t consider themselves part of the team who got the astronauts into space and home safely. Likewise, we as senders are integral participants of the work of missions.
How to Serve as Senders
I think it is likely that some of us don’t even feel a part of missions or our missionaries’ lives. There they are, busy with their lives, work, and family hundreds of miles away, and here we are, busy with our lives, work, and family. Our paths only cross now and then. Meeting them occasionally or reading their newsletter only gives us a glimpse into who they are. As well, often times the church has been supporting them for years and we may not have been a part of that first ‘sending,’ so we can’t even claim a friendship from long ago. If we haven’t established a commonality with our missionaries, how do we find satisfaction in our giving/sending, or even a desire to give when there seems to be nothing in it for us? There’s no "doing" on our part when the church sends a check that we never see being sent. There seems to be so much distance in it all. How do we move from detachment to attachment? How do develop that ‘care’ gene?
Paul answered a portion of that question in his letter to the Philippians when he said,
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God
-Philippians 1:3‐7 (ESV)
Paul stated that Jesus had given the Philippians the desire to partner with him from the very beginning and that Jesus would bring that work to completion, a work that would result in knowledge, discernment, purity and blamelessness. So it is with us. Jesus gives us the desire to provide financial support and love and prayers for our missionaries. Your obedience to Jesus’ call makes you a part of God’s work wherever our missionaries are working. You may not be there in person, but you are a necessary participant. Jesus is doing a good work in you when you choose to engage in missions, when you consider missions in your weekly offering to the church and when you pray for our missionaries.
Jesus answered the second half of our question of why we should be engaged in the field work in Matthew 6 when He said,
"Our Father who sees in secret will reward you’ and warned us to ‘not lay up treasures for ourselves on earth…. but to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven."
-Matthew 6:19-20 (ESV)
You and I may never be called to go into the mission field, but we will always be called to partner with those who have been called. Our prayers for, and our giving to our missionaries are some of those treasures we are laying up in Heaven and will be included in our rewards when we finally see Jesus.
Just as the names of the engineers in the control room are unknown to all except those who served beside them, so are our names to the mission field. Just as you have to know that the space mission required the engineers to give their full participation for success, so do our missionaries need our full partnership for their success. They are the doers: the face of their mission. We are the senders: the many unnamed hands that provide the base support. Their's is the fruit in the field. We are the "layer‐uppers”, trusting that our partnership is creating a stockpile of fruit/treasures in Heaven. We should be like the engineers in the control room who were 100% sold out on the mission and jubilant at success and dogged about doing their part.
You may never hear anyone shouting your name in praise for your support for our missionaries, and you may never see your name on a plaque extolling your philanthropy, but the one thing you can count on is that you will be astounded and humbled when you see Jesus and hear Him commend you as a good and faithful servant and when you see the fruit of your labor standing in Heaven with you.
-Verna Lee Curry
Head of the Missions Committee