Ministry Overview: Missions

After the devastating air raid on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese sailors and airmen celebrated on the deck of the battleship Nagato. Amid all of the enthusiasm and revelry, only Admiral Yamamato Isoruku, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial Navy, observed soberly and grimly: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” That observation proved to be accurate. In fact, the quote is repeated in a book the Missions Team is currently reading – Mind the Gaps: Engaging the Church in Missionary Care. The church, the book argues, is endowed with awesome power, extended reach and heightened perspective…just like a giant. At the same time, though, after hitting our intended benchmarks, we have a tendency to nap.

As a vibrant missions ministry, we are blessed with a supportive congregation and leadership; experienced and knowledgeable counsel; and for the last several years, abundant financial resources. More than that, we have some incredible missionary partners whom we have carefully evaluated for their fit with our vision to win the world for Jesus. We maintain every confidence in their spiritual health, commitment and capacity to spread the Gospel over every field they occupy. Still, allocating funds and praying for them at our monthly meetings – although essential activities – are not always sufficient for their personal health, spiritual well-being and success. A missionary endeavor is not a turn-key business that runs itself after the initial investment.

Paul the apostle emphasizes to the Church at Thessalonica that he takes a personal and immediate interest in her work:

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:17-18)

No staffing out his communications; no arms-length transactions. He conveys God’s grace in Christ, man to church. It is the personal love of a brother and spiritual father that those church plants needed from Paul. Today’s laborers are no less needy. They need to put faces to names, to know who we are and tell us when they lack, when they abound and when they need encouragement. Sometimes, they need to see us face to face. The Missions Team is undergoing a reorganization that will help us better serve our missionary partners. The focus will broaden to mobilizing the GRC congregation in the interest of caring for them comprehensively and regularly. The family of God is all immediate family – brothers and sisters – and there are no distant cousins that we only relate to at a reunion every few years.

Likewise, our missionaries are more than associates; they are our family too. It is easier now to recognize this reality in that this year we are launching a family from our church – the Sons, long-time members – to enter the mission field in the Middle East. Before you know it, this family of seven will be headed to the Middle East for some intensive language training. It’s an exciting prospect because they are of this body – appreciated, cared for and nourished in our Gospel culture.

Actually, all of our missionary partners come from somewhere, some fellowship of believers from whom many are now separated. They need more than money; they will only flourish if there is action to backstop our prayers. This is why missionary care will be a major theme in 2023: care for the Sons and for our other spiritual siblings who are laboring for the harvest.

Join us for our GRC Missions Conference on March 18th and learn how we can assist our missionaries in becoming “Cleared for Launch.” Let’s awaken the “sleeping giant” that is the church. And, please, don’t forget to remember the Missions team in your giving. You will truly be a blessing to our family.

 

John Gregory is an Elder at GRC and member of the Missions Committee.