Read Part 1.
Mere weeks ago, our family arrived in an Asian country that doesn’t openly welcome gospel witnesses. Deputation took one year. Our full-time deputation process kicked off when I quit my job in January 2012. We’d had 5-6 meetings with churches and shared with some families/individuals before this; but our commissioning service this January occurred exactly a year after I quit my job.
Because of the rarity of this time frame, we’ve been asked to share our experience. Because of our destination, as well as the difficulty of giving the glory to God, our real names are withheld, but we’d like to share how God worked.
When we started dating in late 2006, my wife-to-be began praying that we would be able to do deputation in one year. She continued until our departure, and God chose to honor that prayer. We are grateful.
The local church always is, or should be, at the heart of the global advance of the mission of God. However, hopes for actual partnerships between a church’s pastor(s), members, and sent ones are often belied by the realities of the average missionary-church relationship. This became unexpectedly clear to my family as we began, with our church family, to try to build a healthy, biblical partnership. Helpful models were few, and most of those came from very large churches, not church plants with limited budget sending their first missionary.
We hadn’t meant to fall in love with this church plant; we’d meant to come to Denver, get some church planting experience and leave for the mission field a year later. God’s way was different, and the first thing that our new pastors did was slow us down. Actually, they told us we weren’t ready three different times. Those delays were critical for the development that we needed, but they were hard. First, the pastors invited me to become a pastoral intern so that I could be developed in leading a church and then be sent out as a pastor if God wanted me to plant churches.