“Okay; I’m a bit confused. What your organization is asking for isn’t people to go to India as missionaries, but rather that we sponsor people that are already there as missionaries?” Frank said from his customary seat in the center of the front row. He told people often that he liked sitting there so the pastor wouldn’t have to reach far to step on his toes.
“Yes, sir,” the smiling young woman on the dais replied. “That’s what our organization exists for.”
“Wasn’t the command for us to go, though? Like the late Keith Green said before one of his songs, ‘It’s so easy to write a check, but God can’t cash out of state checks in Heaven.’ Why not recruit people from here to go and preach the Gospel over there?”
The speaker stepped out from behind the podium. “Have you been to the mission field, sir?”
“I spent nearly twenty years working in New Guinea, before my health prevented me from going back.”
“How much training did you have before you went over there?”
“Well, I’d already been through Bible School and Seminary, and then I had two years of training and deputation before I actually left.”
“And how long before you were able to effectively minister to the people you were sent to?”
“Well, it took a little while to learn the nuances of the culture and language, but on the most basic level, I was ministering right away. I needed the other missionary to help with communicating at first, but there was plenty of work to do as I learned.”
She used her remote to bring back up one of the slides she’d shown earlier. “This man grew up a Hindu in Andhra Pradesh. He became a Christian five years ago, and now yearns to share the Gospel with his people. He is already fluent in the language and customs, accustomed to the living conditions, and he is not of European descent. He is ideally suited for the mission field in India, and needs only a modest amount of support. For the cost of one budget airline ticket to New Delhi, he can live for two years.”
“Okay; I can see from a monetary approach how it makes sense, but why mention that he’s not of European descent? Why should that matter?”
“For nearly a hundred years, India was a British Commonwealth, and prior to that, was heavily dominated by the East India Company, a British concern. There are still those alive who remember British rule, and who remain suspicious of Western Imperialism. It’s difficult enough to reach Hindus and Muslims with the Gospel, without also fighting a perception that you are trying to undermine their culture and independence.”
“But, haven’t we always fought similar suspicions, and still managed to share Christ with the world?”
“Yes, we have, and I’m always so thankful when I meet people that have such a heart for the lost, but consider this – when you went to the mission field, could you have done so if everyone that helped support you decided to go along instead?”
“Well, no, but then again, God always provides for the work.”
“Yes, He does.” She changed slides to a group shot of one of the missionary training classes. “Jesus told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth reapers, and our organization is seeing the answer to these prayers every day. We have these workers, ready and willing to pour out their lives for God, and they’re praying for that provision as well. My call, and the calling of my co-workers, is to be their voice over here, sharing their testimonies and their needs.”
Frank sighed. “How effective are they?”
The image changed to that of a baptism. “They’re reaching more people in less time and for less support than any Western missionary could. God is calling many people to go to various mission fields all over the world. For this field, though, ask yourself this: how many people could I reach if I go? How many people can they reach if I stay?”
The retired missionary slowly rose to his feet, leaning heavily on the cane at his side. Smiling through the pain, he reached for one of the support cards. “Well, considering I can’t go anyway, I think I’ve just found a way to remain active in the mission as I stay.”
Author’s note: Though this scene is fictitious, organizations such as Gospel for Asia are accomplishing remarkable things in India through the efforts of native missionaries, for the very reasons stated in this story. GFA is always looking for both prayerful and financial support for the work. Learn more about them at http://www.gfa.org/
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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