By M.R. Conrad (Reposted from Rooted Thinking)
Eighteen-year-old Sarah Hall curled up in her New England home, her legs tucked beneath her voluminous 1700’s skirt.1 Neither the chill of the room nor the hardness of the wooden chair distracted her from her book. She barely noticed her younger brothers and sisters as they noisily went about their business in the common room. The hardbound volume, stiff with newness, recounted the life of the recently deceased missionary Samuel Mills.
Soon after finishing the book, Sarah wrote to a friend: “I have just completed the perusal of the life of Samuel J. Mills; and never shall I forget the emotions of my heart while following thus the footsteps of this devoted missionary. I have almost caught his spirit, and been ready to exclaim: Oh! that I, too, could suffer privations, hardships, and discouragements, and even find a watery grave, for the sake of bearing the news of salvation to the poor heathen!”2
Reading missionary biographies ignited Sarah’s passion for serving God. What she read would shape her future life and ministry. This young woman caught the spirit of Mills, launching her first into local ministry and then foreign missions.
More than ever before we need to see cross-cultural missions as advancing the Gospel among peoples and language groups, not merely reaching those within certain political boundaries. This distinction is becoming increasingly important as our world grows integrated through a global economy and technology. Peoples and languages, not countries—this is what I would like to emphasize.
COVID-19 has taught the world how easy it is to lock down whole countries, to control the flow of travel. Internet “footprints” and rapidly developing facial recognition make it so that people can be easily tracked and known. That means that it is now easier than ever before to keep people out that a country doesn’t want in and keep people in that it doesn’t want out. Many of us have been sensing where all of this is headed, and thoughts about the end times are on our minds.
Even before this past year, I was already quite burdened to communicate about this topic. Countries have already been denying access over its borders because of political contention or religious fanaticism. We talk a lot about “open” and “closed” countries when discussing missions. Is there a way to think about missions that will help us more effectively reached people in and from those “closed” places? Yes, there is!
"The Future of Missions, a brand new Barna report conducted in partnership with International Mission Board, takes a closer look at what’s keeping young Christians from wholeheartedly engaging with global ministry.... One-third of young adult Christians (34%) agrees that 'in the past, missions work has been unethical,' compared to one in four adults 35 and older (23%). Two in five (42%) agree that 'Christian mission is tainted by its association with colonialism' (vs. 29% older adults 35+, 31% teens)." - Barna
It was the Summer of 1969, and I found myself in Memphis, Tennessee, pursuing some practical aspects of training for ministry. For two years, I had served as week-end Youth Pastor and Music Director for Faith Baptist church in Chester, South Carolina. I traveled the eighty miles from Greenville to Chester on Saturday afternoons, conducted a Teen meeting Saturday Evening, and slept on a pull-out bed in the church office Saturday night.
Sunday mornings found me sponge bathing in the church bathroom, teaching a Teen Sunday School class, leading congregational singing and directing the choir for morning worship. Afternoons involved choir rehearsal, another Teen meeting, and music for evening worship. Exhausted, I would drive home Sunday night, tumble into bed, and arise at 5:00 a.m., to deliver newspapers before my first university class at eight.
I cherished the opportunities in Chester, as they taught me much about pastoral ministry. But I also sensed a need for additional experiences, so I accepted an invitation to Interstate Baptist Church in Memphis to serve during the summer. My primary work was door to door visitation. Every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., I knocked on doors of homes within reasonable distance from the church. Memphis is hot and humid in the summer, but the experience I gained talking to hundreds of people about the gospel was more than worth the uncomfortable weather. In addition, I worked with the Teens and supplied the pulpit for the three or four Sundays that the pastor was on vacation.
Kent Brandenburg: When my wife and I came to California in 1987, I started as an evangelist and became a pastor. I'm becoming an evangelist again in 2020. I am a missionary again. The church I started in 1987 in the San Francisco Bay Area is sending my wife and I to Jackson County, Oregon to evangelize. We want to reproduce our church.