Not every Christian is called to go overseas (but we are all called to make disciples). Instead, there are those God calls to remain at home and make disciples. Additionally, for those at home, He calls them to participate in His world-wide mission to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the same way, He calls those away from home to participate in the “local” mission at home.
The role of sending
The role of the sender is, effectively, the resourcing and supporting of missionaries whom God calls to serve Him and build His kingdom. It is a role many people overlook as unimportant or unrecognised. Just as with anything of significance, there are significant factors that contribute to its development and outcome. No less with God’s servants, there is a team of people who work towards their healthy development and preparation, of which the sender is one.
A sender is someone who supports a missionary. A sender is someone who promotes the needs of a missionary before the throne of God in prayer and the people of God. A sender is someone who provides for the material needs of a missionary and their ministry. A sender is someone who supports a missionary emotionally and relationally, keeping in touch and encouraging them in the call and work of God.
The importance of sending
The role of the sender is critical. While many churches send missionaries with financial and prayer support, they do not realise the significant part they are to play in the emotional and relational health of the missionaries. A missionary spends a number of years away from their home culture where their emotions are streched and put to the test from their ministry in a foreign culture.
They give of themselves in relationships that are unable to reciprocate in the same way as they would in their home culture. It is not to say a missionary’s life is unhappy and unfulfilling, in many cases it is quite the opposite, but it comes at the long-term cost of their emotional health and quality relationships.
The call of sending
The call to send is based on nothing less than the grace of God (2 Corinthians 8:1-7). It is not something we can command of our Christian brothers and sisters or our churches. Instead, it is the body of Christ in response to the grace of God that responds to the call of sending. The Corinthians are urged not as a command, but as a reflection of their love of God is genuine.
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
— 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 (ESV)
It is great when individuals or churches gather around a missionary to send them out with prayer and finances, but it is even greater when the whole body of Christ is spurred to send them with a more holistic view of support—supporting them not only financially and prayerfully, but emotionally and relationally also.
Will you be part of sending missionaries to reach God’s world? Will you not only financially and prayerfully support them, but support them emotionally and relationally? Maybe send them a care package (where it’s financially viable), send them a written letter, an email, a message on Facebook, or make time to Skype with them. What about organising a team from your church to go visit them and see their work they are doing?
If you’re interested in learning more about serving as senders, take a look at Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo.