What to tell the missionary speaker in your church

Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He has had compassion on you.  (Mark 5:19)

When I learned my friends Missionaries Tim and Iracema Kunkel were returning to the States for a time of rest and recuperation, and would be sharing in SBC churches, I made a suggestion.

“Tim, when you speak in a church, don’t just deliver a missions sermon, the kind I or the  host pastor might give.  You have a unique  opportunity to tell us something about God’s work in South America we don’t know.  Tell us what you have seen. Give us your stories.  Tell us which scriptures have made a world of difference in your life and ministries.”

It takes a certain amount of nerve, I know, to instruct veteran missionaries on how to do what they do best: preach in churches. And yet, as a longtime pastor who has pretty much seen it all, I want the speakers to be as effective for the Lord as possible.

In the late 1970s I served as a trustee of our denomination’s International Mission Board and have made mission trips overseas, working with missionaries.  We love missionaries and give generously to support their work.  As pastor, I was always delighted to have them speak in my church.  But–and this is my burden–I’ve seen it done poorly and seen it done well.

Here was Tim’s response to me…

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Why we must have denominations (or fellowships or families of churches)

A pastor in New Hersheybar emails me. “Pastor McKeever, I read your articles. We need your help.  We are a struggling community of small churches trying to get established, trying to get financial support, trying to get our ministers educated. Can you come help us or send cash?”

Well, maybe it’s never worded exactly like that, but that’s the gist.

How to know.

Is this guy for real, and is this a genuine opportunity to make a difference for the Kingdom of God?  Or is this fellow preying on the (so-called) rich Americans who are burdened with lots of spare cash and zero discernment?

I tell him to contact our International Mission Board at www.imb.org.  If we do not have missionaries in his country, we surely have a department with responsibility for his part of the world and someone in that office will be delighted to hear from him.  Maybe someone there will know somebody who can assist him.  And once in a while, we have a “representative” or “consultant” (as they are frequently called these days) living right there in his village.

Usually, that’s the last I hear from this fellow. Whether I discouraged him or exposed him is impossible to know.

I’m thankful for this denominational agency for a thousand reasons.

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