Mission Motives

Ever wonder why missionaries choose to go to the unknown? Why they choose to be in another culture? Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum did too. With the help of WGM partner organization Missio Nexus, he was able to research that very topic. Read more to find out what the study showed about why missionaries choose to go.

Mission Motives: Why North Americans Serve and Stay Cross-Culturally

In 2016, a professor of ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado, Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum, sought to discover what motives lie behind Christians who make a decision to serve in foreign lands as missionaries. At the outset of the project, he theorized that many go overseas as a means to escape the decadent North American culture. He asked Missio Nexus to collaborate with him to survey the North American mission community to test his thesis. This report is the result of those findings.

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As you read this brief report, the facts will testify to themselves: God calls and His people respond. With worldly wisdom, this simply is difficult to understand. But under the power of His Holy Spirit, God moves His people to do things that simply don’t make sense humanly speaking. When God calls His people, selfless service is rendered to our King for the advancement of His Kingdom. Through His leading, people seek to be faithful servants who provide cups of cold water and also proclaim Living Water in some of the most forgotten corners of this world.

“The evangelization of the world waits not on the readiness of God but on the obedience of Christians.” —Bill M. Sullivan

The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives can confirm with our spirit that we belong where we are serving. Language may still be elusive, food may still be new, culture may be nuanced and unfamiliar, but God can and will give us peace in our destination. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed felt that they have assimilated into the society where they are serving. Time is the equalizing factor. We cannot rush cultural adaptation. We must give it the time that it takes to see, hear, smell, learn and allow God to transform us so that we can love His people as if they are our people too.

“Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.” —Robert C. Shannon

To read the full report, visit https://missionexus.org/mission-motives/.

Doing Good?

A boy, age 11, wakes up and gets ready for school. His father is eagerly waiting for him on the sunken couch. The man shouts obscenities at his son, because the boy did not clean up a mess his dog had made during the night. Although this task is an impossibility, yes, since the boy was sleeping, the father’s anger goes unquenched. Yelling is not enough; he chases after the boy, grabbing onto his hoodie. His grasp slips, and the boy escapes out the door. The boy knows what’s waiting at home when he returns.

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An old man wakes up, his joints sore as he places his feet on the cold floor. He prays, “God, please place in my path someone who I can encourage today,” as he buttons his shirt to go out and have his regular coffee with his buddies. An accident in the road makes the man anxious as he knows he is going to be late; he hates to be late. He arrives at the regular place late, as he expected, and a boy is outside asking for someone to buy his breakfast.

The old man walks toward the front door and looks the boy up and down. He can tell from the looks of this boy that he does not come from the good part of town, so he gives the boy what he can, some advice: “Son, you need to get to school. It will do you a world of good to have an education.” The boy looks at the old man and then sees a person behind him. He asks the second person for breakfast, ignoring the old man’s loving advice. The old man thinks to himself, “Some people just don’t want help; too bad.”

The old man then has a fantastic conversation with his buddies about the past week’s church service. He leaves the restaurant feeling very good about himself. Then he notices the boy is gone. He thinks to himself, “Maybe he did go to school.” He smiles and walks back to his car, proudly thinking he’s really made a difference; and it’s only 10 a.m. He thanks God and goes back home to rest.

The old man assumed the boy’s needs and his situation. He thought the boy was skipping school or maybe not attending at all. In reality, he just needed some breakfast before school because he couldn’t go back home.

This story is not just for you but for me as well. I find it very convicting. I can often be judgmental. Many times, it is not harsh, negative judgements but just assumptions on what people need and where they are in life. The thing that’s hard about this story is that the man’s heart was in the right place; he intended to help. What can we do? How do we fix this and avoid missing the opportunities that are provided for us every day?

Luke 7:34 (NIV) states exactly what Jesus did and the example we should follow: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” [bold added for emphasis]. Did you see that word “friend?”

ACT: This week, get to know someone personally who you think is in need. If we are to live on mission in our communities, it requires more than giving some money or going to some events in the community. It involves more than just buying someone breakfast and feeling good about it. It requires building relationships and community with those who are much like ourselves—hungry to be known and to have their basic needs met. I want to be called “friend” by anyone who will have me, don’t you? Who will you share life with this week?

The Waiting Game

God asks me to wait so often that sometimes I wonder if He understands the concept of time. Then I remember He created it. Do you every feel this way? Jeff and Christine Stanfield, who have served as missionaries in Kenya and now Uganda since 1990, have experienced similar feelings. Read on for an update and life lesson from Christine as she explores the idea of God as our gardener.

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Photo credit: Christine Stanfield

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!” Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

To read the rest of this story, visit the Stanfields’ ministry blog.

ACT: Meditate on the idea that God’s plan for you at this moment could be to wait. God asks so many things of us; and oftentimes, when He asks us to wait, we can get impatient. Today, ask yourself, “What can I be learning about God? How can I grow closer to Him while I wait and look forward to what’s next?”

Impact the World

World Gospel Mission was honored to be part of the latest Great Commission Congress at Asbury University. Our very own John Rinehimer, vice president of Mobilization and Communications, spoke at the event. In the article below, Cathryn Lien of Asbury shares the story of how God is working to “impact the world.”

Illustrating a commitment to “impact the world,” Asbury University hosted its annual Great Commission Congress — a week-long exploration of missions and outreach (Oct. 23-27).

The weekend kicked off with a flag-bearing processional in Hughes Auditorium. International students carried flags from their home countries to place at the altar — a visual representation of Asbury’s global reach.

“Seeing all the flags represented was a beautiful picture and reminder to me of diversity in unity,” said Jaci Spencer ’20. “The Great Commission is a call to the nations, whether that be your own nation or a foreign nation.”

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During Great Commission Congress, a Missions Expo challenged students to explore global service.

This year’s speakers included Dr. Dan Nesselroade ‘91, a physician and missionary to Mali; Rev. Nicole Sims of mission organization TMS Global; and John Rinehimer ’01, vice president of Homeland Ministries (World Gospel Mission). The speakers explored our collective Christian calling and the individual call God instructs to each of his followers.

Sims challenged students to seek God’s guidance prayerfully in all aspects of life, from seemingly small decisions like summer plans to long-term serving commitments.

“God has bigger dreams for you than you have for yourself,” Sims said. “When you ask God for a calling, how willing are you to hear his answer?”

Rinehimer encouraged students to have faith in God’s plan for our lives, even when the future is uncertain.

“We want the floodlight, but God gives us a flashlight,” Rineheimer said. “He wants us to stay close and trust him. He shows us a few steps in front instead of a hundred.”

Every year during Great Commission Congress, the Asbury community takes up an offering for a mission or need. This year’s giving initiative supports 12 Salvation Army officers — enrolled in Asbury’s online Ministry Management program — who are serving with The Salvation Army’s hurricane disaster relief effort in Puerto Rico. The offering is still open — give now to support The Salvation Army’s work in Puerto Rico!

Throughout the week, various organizations promoted opportunities to serve abroad. The University hosted 22 mission organizations on campus, including Wycliffe Bible Translators, World Gospel Mission, The Salvation Army, and One Mission Society, with booths outside the Z.T. Johnson Cafeteria and a missions’ expo in the Student Center hosted by the Global Engagement Office. Organizations shared what God is doing throughout the U.S. and around the world and invited students to serve.