Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mobilizing Tomorrow's Missionaries

Discovering, Developing, and Deploying Missionaries ~ at all levels...

While we live in El Paso, TX and have carried various ministry roles this past year with the Nazarene Border Initiative, our assignment has been recently refocused. Our leaders in World Mission have asked us to contribute much of our energy in developing enhanced methods of mobilizing people to serve in the missionary endeavor of the Church.

It has been an EXCITING year for us — working with a dynamic and creative leadership team at our international office in Kansas City, other missionaries in similar roles as ours throughout the world, and creative leaders with other mission organizations.

Integrating recent research in volunteerism trends with methods developed by Wycliffe Bible Translators, we are helping develop an enhanced system of discovering, developing, and sending missionaries at all levels—short-term volunteers; long term volunteers; career missionaries; youth teams; young adult teams; experienced retirees and the list goes on…

We are in the process of developing mission “coaches” - people who mentor and encourage others who have a desire to serve cross-culturally in ministry. Some of the people we are training are career professionals serving as lay-leaders in local churches. Others are former missionaries who are serving in other ministries now in the USA. These are people who, on average, commit about one to five hours a month contacting; encouraging; advising; etc...in essence, coaching those who have expressed interest in serving in cross-cultural ministry.

Perhaps you’re interested in serving cross-culturally yourself. We’d LOVE to hear about what’s on your heart!

Or, perhaps you’d like to consider getting involved as a mission coach — helping develop others who may have a call to serve. We’d LOVE to hear what’s on your heart in this sense, as well.
Be sure to contact us via email or phone if this is something on your heart.


We recently went through the biannual “Parent/Teacher Conferences” for Allie and Nic — and (of course!) had great comments from the teachers of both of these kids (smile).

One highlight didn’t come from Nic’s teacher, however. The mother of one of Nic’s classmates called us to tell a story that her son’s teacher brought up in their conversation together.
Nicolas goes to this secondary teacher’s class each day for a “gifted” program and she told this other mom that one day, while the children were working on a project (quietly), Nicolas began singing the lyrics to “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

Unintentionally, (he must have been deep in thought working on his project) he was singing the words out loud. The teacher said that before too long, a couple of other kids were singing along with Nicolas—right there in the classroom of his public school.

The teacher couldn’t contain herself and went to Nicolas and said, “Do you know what, Nicolas? I’ve decided to follow Jesus, too!”

¿Habla usted español?

While our plan is to engage in more formal language study through immersion, Pam has been taking private Spanish tutoring through a local language academy in El Paso in the meantime. One highlight is that Pam’s teacher, Irma, has recently begun attending a home-church group we’ve been participating with through El Paso 1st Church of the Nazarene. Irma has become a dear friend to Pam, so this is an extra blessing!

Another highlight for Pam was to spend a week in Chihuahua, Mexico attending a district wide conference/assembly with several of our pastors and church leaders from northern Mexico. We are so anxious to get a better grasp on the language of our neighbors and our church leaders. Please join us in prayer that the doors will open and that the necessary funds will be available for our family to receive formal language instruction soon.

We are tentatively planning to be in Guadalajara, Mexico for 4-5 weeks of intensive language study this summer -- keep us in your prayers!

Walls - Jerusalem and Juarez

Joel in Jerusalem - overlooking the Old City Temple Mount
This Spring, Joel was invited to attend the Global Youth Ministry Summit sponsored by Nazarene Youth International. The summit gave leaders from around the world an opportunity to not only visit the Holy Land but also opportunities to interact with Believers from the Middle East. Interacting with leaders from Jordan, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Territory, South Africa, Guatemala, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, and the USA - issues relating to emerging leaders and youth ministry to the global dynamics of middle-eastern politics were shared formally and informally. What follows are a few comments from Joel's personal journaling:

The short journey from the Jewish Western (Wailing) Wall to Islam’s Dome of the Rock doesn’t give a person nearly enough time to process internally the dynamics of being in a city where three major religions collide with…rather, repel each other. Even as I attempted to soak in as much as I possibly could during my recent participation with Nazarene Youth International’s Global Youth Ministry Summit in Jordan and Israel—all of the phenomenally overwhelming details of being in the land of the Bible; meeting some incredibly dynamic Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian Christian leaders; and trying to sort out all of the lies and truths of the constant political struggle that takes place in that beautiful part of the world —- I couldn’t wrap my mind around all that I was experiencing.

Three things stand out in my mind as I process my 10 days in the middle-east. One, our church has a tremendous future as we consider what it means to reach the lost with the message of the Great Commission — the Believers in the middle-east have a clear vision for reaching their Jerusalem, Judea, and the ends of the earth — this gets me so excited! Two, while walls may have good intent at times—to protect, shelter, and shield...they also can serve as symbols of impenetrable bitterness. Walls, whether between Israel and the Palestinian territories or between El Paso and Juarez...tend to say, “Keep Out!” — this seems to contradict the message of grace. While the political discussions on this issue have tremendous legitimacy...and at the same time, fault, my mind keeps asking, “How do walls fit within Christ’s Kingdom?” Honestly, I’m still trying to sort all of that out...it’s a tough issue to deal with.

Thirdly, I am convinced that this is the greatest time in the life of Christianity to be in the “business” of reaching the world with the Good News. We are seeing missionaries being sent from many areas of the world — God is raising up willing servants at all stages of life throughout the world to take His message to those who are lost — what will your part be?