A missional class is intentional to adopt one or more missionaries. With our international missionaries at the height of our attending during the month of December, it is a great time to strengthen our focus.
I have been blessed to have been part of several churches and classes where members surrender to international missions. I have watched close friends go to seminary, mission orientation, preparation to move to another part of the world, and finally to be serving in another country. Unlike the thousands of missionaries serving around the world, these missionaries are often the focus of my prayers. Why? Because they I personally know them and naturally have concern for them. I quickly find ways to keep in touch such as newsletters and email. When I am near where they serve, I let them know I am in the area. I know when they are on furlough and often make contact. I know about their work and the needs of their ministry. In recent years, the internet has made it easy for me to keep up with their local news and weather, adding another dimension to my prayers. Our prayers are quite different when we have a connection with someone.
Every class can know missionaries personally; it just requires a little intentional effort. To get started, identify a missionary you might like to know. The missionary might be someone from your area or it might be a country or ministry of interest. Make contact with them; the International Mission Board can help with contact information. Once you have made contact and start to get newsletters or other forms of communication, your prayers and curiosity will be heightened. The more you learn about their ministry and place of service, the more you will want to know. Soon you will find your class wanting to have them visit when they are on furlough. Soon they will be your missionary.
As we begin a new year, determine that your class will have at least on missionary as the focus of their thoughts, prayers and giving. Remember, the efforts of Paul and Barnabas where support by the church back in Jerusalem through others’ prayers, concerns, and gifts. Because the church at Jerusalem was missional we know Christ today.
Tom Belew has served as Small Groups and Childhood Specialist for the California Southern Baptist Convention since 2002. He previously served as Minister of Education in churches in Arizona and California.