|Missions Team Manual |
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A Welcome from Alison Barfoot
Mission: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Power
Mission is About Sharing
Protection for Mission Teams
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Welcome to the wonderful world of short-term missions!
This web-based mission manual will not only provide you with practical information related to visiting and working with people in another culture, but will also provide you with some reflections on the nature of relational mission.
Consider this quote from an e-mail I received from a friend who is an experienced long-term missionary (having served many years in the Indian sub-continent) and is the Executive Director of a mission agency.
"Mission is more than working hard or knowing that a trip is not about sightseeing. In Episcopal/Anglican circles right now there is a general and widespread assumption that mission is going someplace to do something helpful ? it could be medical, spiritual, or whatever. It seems to me that this promotes the idea that somehow mission is task or project oriented. I would simply offer a few thoughts:
1. The Incarnation reminds us that mission is fundamentally RELATIONAL ? a project might be a platform for building authentic relationships, but in and of itself, projects are not missions.
2. The Incarnation reminds us the mission is MUTUAL. Yes, God came TO us in the flesh, but He also asked us for a drink of water on a hot day by a Samaritan well. He cried. He let people meet His needs (Luke 8:1). It was more than just doing things for us ? He entered into our lives and (I almost hesitate to say this) needed us, too.
3. The Incarnation reminds us that mission is CROSS-CULTURAL. Not to be too "cheesey" here, but I can not imagine anything more cross-cultural than leaving heaven to come to earth. I realize that is a bit simplistic, but there is a deep truth in it."
4. The Incarnation reminds us that mission is about MULTIPLICATION. The vision of Jesus was that the yeast would spread...and spread...and spread. So, mission that only focuses on helping our brothers and sisters in places where the church exists is only ONE piece of the mission pie...or, one slice of the mission yeasted bread....or whatever. If we do not have eyes and hearts for the vast numbers of peoples ? whole ethnic and language groups sometimes numbering in the 10's or even 100's of millions, where there is no church to go and help ? then we do not have JESUS' vision of mission, at least not in its fullness."
With these thoughts in mind about the implications of the incarnation for mission, this web-based team manual will not only provide you with practical information related to visiting people in a developing country, but will also provide you with some reflections on the nature of relational and friendship mission.
"May your Kingdom come, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven!"
Alison L. Barfoot
Overland Park, KS USA
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MISSION: ORDINARY PEOPLE, EXTRAORDINARY POWER
by Edwina Thomas, National Director, SOMA USA
"You give them something to eat." "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, they answered." (Matthew 14:13-21)
Undoubtedly the bread was like the flat middle-eastern bread of today. The fish was surely cooked and ready to eat. Was the fish already flaking and falling apart? "looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people."
I imagine I am a disciple on that hillside. Jesus gives me the tail of a fried fish and a torn-off piece of bread. Looks hopeless. Not enough. Can't do this. So many hungry people in a big crowd. Where's my courage? Is Jesus the answer, the resource?
Act! Move! Give the people the fish and bread. No matter that I am a bit hungry myself. Just do what Jesus says. Give what I have to the people. Obey. I give to one, there is more for the next, and the next. My heart pounds. Grin! A squeal of delight?
This pretty much describes the ministry of partnership missions. Ordinary folks giving to Jesus what they have, even if it is crumbled and broken. Ordinary folks receiving the blessed offerings with the instruction, "You give them something to eat." Ordinary folks acting in obedience, sometimes in the face of fear and unbelief, trusting God to be the resource. Ordinary folks delighting in the extraordinary miracle.
You can be one of these "ordinary folk." Friends give little and larger amounts of money. Pray-ers and volunteers give time. The gifts are to Jesus. He takes the gift, blesses it, and hands it on. Others of us take what is blessed, handed to us, and obey Jesus, "You give them something to eat."
Who had the fun and blessing of seeing their gift to Jesus be part of the miracle? Those who listened to Jesus and willingly, joyfully gave what he asked for.
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MISSION IS ABOUT SHARING
By Edwina Thomas, Naitonal Director, SOMA USA
Partnership Mission is about sharing. As you prepare to go into a country very different from the United States, please think seriously about what you will take and what you will bring home.
We're not talking about gifts to hosts and souvenirs, but rather taking an inventory of subtle attitudes built into the fabric of American culture:
- Americans abroad naturally expect prestige and respect because they come from the most powerful nation on earth. How might this fact "color" my relationships on this mission? Am I willing to be weak and vulnerable?
- When I compare myself to other Americans I may not see myself as rich or wealthy. As an American in an underdeveloped nation, I am extremely wealthy. How can I prepare my heart to bridge the gap?
- I was invited on this team because I have a track record of faithful ministry and leadership. Am I willing to listen and to learn? Am I teachable?
- When I don't understand things that are very different, will I be willing to ask questions rather than make a quick value judgment?
- Am I prepared to see that some values that I encounter may even be superior to those most Americans hold?
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PROTECTION FOR MISSION TEAMS
Christ Church's global missions ministry is a Kingdom-oriented ministry. We go as servants of the King of heaven and earth, and we go in confidence that He will accomplish His plans and purposes in and through us.
Team members know that ministry is necessarily an activity that takes place in the midst of kingdoms in conflict. While it is true that our God will prevail, the forces of darkness are not going to humbly submit and comply. The evil one, by character, lives out a script that includes seeking to rob, kill, and destroy (cf. John 10:10).
Sometimes the work of the demonic realm includes physical attacks in addition to spiritual attacks. While we request and receive the latest State Department information bulletins about the areas to which we are called, Satan does not always give prior notice of the destructive spiritual and physical threats or ambushes the demons will attempt to carry out. God, however, is never taken by surprise. If He calls us to an area, He knows the plans He has for us (cf. Jeremiah 29:11), and regardless of the kind of conflict, those plans are going to accomplish the purpose of producing His life. No matter what happens, He is the Redeemer who will bring Kingdom good out of evil (cf. Romans 8:28), no matter the form of it or the degree.
In addition to the promises we have that God will ultimately accomplish His purposes for life and good, we also have resources of power and protection. The Lord provided us the full armor of God (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17), and weapons of warfare that are mighty in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Those weapons include all kinds of prayers (cf. Ephesians 6:18-20). These weapons will prevent attacks from being successful in harming us in most cases. For these reasons we ask every team member to rely on intercessors to do battle and provide protection for us.
Nevertheless, we remember that even our Lord Jesus, who could have called on angels, submitted to the will of God, which called for Him to die. The apostles too, both ministered in the power of the Spirit and suffered for their faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 6:4-10, 11:18-27, and 1 Peter 4:12-19). And we remember that the origins of the Church in many places is the blood of the martyrs who, as seeds that fell into the ground and died, were used to bring forth the life of the gospel. You, your family, and your intercessors deserve to know that Christ Church cannot ensure your absolute protection from harm, and apparently God does not guarantee it either.