Hurricane Laura slammed Louisiana last Thursday as a deadly Category 4 storm. In Lake Charles, roofs were peeled off, buildings ripped apart, and lampposts scattered like twigs. This storm reminded us again that disasters come and can catch us unprepared for the devastation left behind. Being prepared increases our ability to survive and to respond effectively to help those affected.
The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes 10:10 declared, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength, however the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.” Preparing the edge by sharpening the blade will enable the tool to be more effective, just as training helps believers to serve more effectively in response to the survivors of disasters.
Top ten reasons to be trained in disaster relief:
Training prepares us in our understanding of disasters and the needs that arise in times of disaster.
Training enables us to respond in appropriate and effective ways in times of disaster.
Training prepares us to understand our role as part of a disaster team. Emergency Managers often list untrained volunteers as one of their greatest problems in times of disaster.
Training enables us to sharpen our abilities, in order to be an asset not a hindrance in the response. Spontaneous volunteers typically lack familiarity with situational assessments and incident management. Because of this, they usually end up being in the way, rather than providing meaningful help.
Training helps us to understand hazards and safety concerns in disaster areas. Untrained volunteers are much more likely to be injured in disaster response as they are unaware of risk factors.
Training prepares us to understand in a deeper way some of the trauma of disaster victims that we might be able to offer appropriate compassion.
Training prepares the hands to be ready to serve effectively. Becoming trained enables you to respond with appropriate skills and right resources.
Training prepares the head by giving us needed knowledge that prepares our readiness. Untrained volunteers are often unprepared to work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.
Training and relating to a known disaster response group enables better security in disaster areas. Untrained volunteers create atmospheres where scam artists, who seek to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, can get access into disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.
But the greatest reason to train is that God deserves our very best in all that we do and to achieve the best requires discipline, effort, and knowledge.
Disasters will come. Therefore, let me encourage you, be prepared to serve by being trained. Victims deserve that, and even more importantly, God deserves that.
Upcoming Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief trainings are scheduled for:
September 12, 2020 at Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow
January 9, 2021 at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville
February 6, 2021 at Harlan Baptist Church
March 20, 2021 at First Baptist Church of Murray
April 10, 2021 at Red House Baptist Church in Richmond
You can learn how to become connected and register for training through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .
It is “back to school” like no other time in our history. School districts are debating whether to reopen in person or conduct online learning, or a combination of both! Schools that do reopen may be faced with enforced closures if the virus positivity rate increases within the school or district. The uncertainty of how to respond to the virus has created unbelievable stress for teachers, students and parents. That stress is heightened by the polarization of the loud opinions concerning how teachers should do their job.
Our educational system is built upon the backs of caring, faithful and committed teachers, whom in most districts are underpaid and underappreciated. There’s a huge learning curve for many since most have never taught remotely before. Our teachers are working fast and furious to meet the demands of the time. They know that at a moment’s notice, they may have to pivot and change course… again.
The teachers I know, and I’m married to one, desire to make a difference in the lives of their students. They teach because it’s their passion, and in many cases, their calling. I’ve heard teachers talk about the many unusual challenges and I’ve seen first-hand the stress that COVID-19 has created in their lives. However, they keep pressing on, because of the students.
Teachers are concerned that online learning may be hindered because some students don’t have access to proper technology. Will teachers and students be safe if in-person classes are held? Or, how do you console a child by remaining socially distant? Some wonder if they can effectively teach while simultaneously enforcing social distancing and managing the safety of their students. The list of questions and concerns goes on and on.
The people we depend upon to educate our community’s children are struggling and the church has an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to them. There are many ways that we can provide encouragement and support to local teachers and doing so will open the door for gospel conversations. It is also very likely that schools will promote and participate in your church’s activities in the future if you provide practical, loving support to their teachers.
Here are some suggestions for how your church can minister to teachers:
Appreciation breakfasts/lunches or coffee bars
Drawings for gift cards or special services
Provide volunteers to help with reading/after school-tutoring etc.
Notes of encouragement
Personalized care packages
Meal trains – volunteers sign up to deliver to teacher’s home
Adopt a teacher/classroom to care for
Donations from a classroom “wish list”
PRAY for them and WITH them
For more information and ideas for how your church can show support and encourage teachers during this difficult time, check out the “We Love Teachers” initiative implemented by Seed to Oaks at www.seedtooaks.com.
4 Reasons Why Prayer Empowers the Church on Missions!
“What we need in China is more workers. The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh! so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work?” – Lottie Moon, November 1, 1873, Tungchow
One of the greatest resources the church has for advancing the gospel is the ability to come before God in prayer and plead for what is already on His heart, the growth of His kingdom in the world. As we learn from scripture, in James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” When we wonder if prayer accomplishes anything, the book James encourages us not only is prayer powerful, but it is effective. James reminds us that prayer is not a waste of time, and that it pleases God to use the prayers of His people to accomplish his will!
Lottie Moon was not only a missionary, but also a revolutionary for global missions. As a teacher called to share the Gospel in China, Lottie Moon’s life offers believers a compelling narrative with powerful lessons. Her story of conviction, persistence, and courage to spread the Gospel throughout late nineteenth-century Northern China helped shape Southern Baptists’ global work for the Kingdom of God. Lottie understood the power and purpose of prayer, and the vital role it plays in every church’s call to fulfill the Great Commission.
Lottie Moon, November 11, 1878, Pingtu
“Oh! That my words could be as a trumpet call, stirring the hearts of my brethren and sisters to pray, to labor, to give themselves to this people. … We are now, a very, very few feeble workers, scattering the grain broadcast according as time and strength permit. God will give the harvest; doubt it not. But the laborers are so few. Where we have four, we should have not less than one hundred. Are these wild words? They would not seem so were the church of God awake to her high privilege and her weighty responsibilities.”
With that in view, here are four reasons why churches must pray for missions.
1. Jesus taught his disciples to how pray for missions and modeled it as he trained them.
Early in his training of the disciples, Jesus taught them how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13). Then, after facing the challenges of ministry, the disciples came back to Jesus and asked him to teach them how to pray. He brought them back to the same prayer in which the petitioner first cries out, “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).
Later, Jesus would model how spiritual battles, to accomplish the Father’s mission, would only be won by faith through prayer as he cried out “not my will, but yours, be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).
Before Jesus sent out the seventy-two, he pointed their faces toward heaven and said, “Pray earnestly for the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Therefore, as we go to share Christ and fulfill the Great Commission, before community engagement even occurs, we must begin with prayer, and it must be an integral part of our daily lives! The church must never lose sight of the fact that training disciples to pray is the first step in bringing the gospel to the mission field.
2. Prayer moves the heart of the church toward the heart of God for his mission.
After Jesus sent the disciples to the places he planned to visit and told them to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field (Luke 10:1-2), he said “Go! I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). They became part of the answer to their own prayer!
As IMB missionaries in Africa, my wife and I were blessed to lead a church planting team that saw the Lord do a mighty work, and prayer was an intentional part of the foundation. The Ugandan believers would gather weekly for early morning prayer and all-night prayer gatherings were not uncommon. In these times, God did something extraordinary, more powerful than any small group meeting or corporate worship experience. It was through prayer and fasting that God unified our hearts for lostness and gave us a church planting vision to reach Kampala for Christ. Out of these churches, missionaries were sent, church planters birthed, and a church’s heart was shaped for the kingdom.
During those days, God thought us how he uses prayer to shape the hearts of his people. Church, in order for us to have the boldness of Acts 4 and the clear direction of Acts 16, we must be on our knees asking God to open a door for His word! Through prayer, God reminds us of the powerful truth that He did not create us to live for Him, but instead, He created us to live with Him! Prayer requires us to totally submit to God’s sovereign plan for both the nations and our neighbors. Missions in the New Normal is Missions in the New Testament (Acts 4:12, 23-37). God will change our hearts, and he will open a door for His Word.
3. Prayer opens the doors in the world for the gospel to advance.
In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul asks the church, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ”. Prayer opens opportunities for the gospel to be shared that previously seemed closed, even in the midst of a pandemic!
In prayer, the impossible becomes practical. Like when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, the church was praying and God released Peter, opening the iron gate leading into the city (Acts 12:10). In that experience, Peter realized that nothing would hold back the kingdom of God from advancing as the church prayed.
It is prayer that helps us connect with people who are open to the gospel. It is prayer that leads us to the right place at the right time to take the steps that only God could orchestrate. Prayer connects the church to the activity of God who is empowering his people to advance the message of his kingdom.
4. Prayer empowers the message of those going to share the gospel clearly and without fear.
Without prayer, fear will rule the hearts of those sharing the gospel. Paul knew his own need for courage to proclaim the gospel. In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asked the church, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. . .Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Paul faced his own timidity and overcame his fears through the prayers of the church. Through corporate prayer we realize no one is alone, and we strive together through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the church prays, the Holy Spirit increases the spiritual fervor of the body that affects all its parts.
It is imperative that a church prays and engages in the spiritual work of kingdom advancement. When the church prays, Christians begin to get a clearer glimpse of the mission. It is by prayer that God’s people move closer toward the heart of God for the world. It is by prayer that fears about sharing the gospel are defeated.
The mission and vision of God has not changed. It is by God’s marvelous design and for his magnificent Glory, that he calls his bride to fervently pray for missions. In these uncertain times, the church is being tempted to lose her first love, turn against one another, and vision-drift away from Christ’s Great Commission. Pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and members, we must be a people who are quick to repent and fervent in our prayers, lest the Lord may come and remove our lampstand!
The mission mobilization team is here to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission! Please feel free to contact me, John Barnett (KBC Missions Strategist), by email [email protected] or text/call 502-654-3385. I will be happy to serve you or connect you to someone who can. The Lord is Good.
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”-Andrew Murray
In the world of missions people rightly ask, “What really does a missionary do?” In turn, many rightly ask, “What, then, does a short-term mission team do?” Back in February, I began a series discussing the missionary task which is explained helpfully by the International Mission Board (IMB) through their IMBFoundationsMagazine.
IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis states, “I’ve noticed a tendency among Christians to think the work of professional missionaries is somehow different from that of churches and their short-term teams. But it’s important to understand that the missionary task is the same for everyone” (“Churches: Essential Partners in the Missionary Task”). The task of missions is the same for the individual answering the call to the mission field or the local church sending the called to the field.
In February, I explained the first component in the missionary task—entry. To make disciples where disciples do not exist, missionaries must enter among peoples and places. “Entry is important, but simply being there is not enough,” Davis explains (“Churches”). This reality leads us to the second component in the missionary task—evangelism.
Every believer is tasked with sharing his or her faith in Jesus. Some are more particularly gifted than others, but all are to share. Missionaries, regardless of their specific jobs, are expected to share Jesus with unbelievers. There is no Great Commission if evangelism is not part of the task. While the end goal of disciple-making is not evangelism, it does begin there.
Davis reminds us that “following the missionary’s evangelism strategy, well-prepared church partners can help spread the gospel in ways that are both winsome and appropriate to the context” (“Churches”). Sharing the full content of the gospel message appropriate to the language and culture of the unbeliever is essential. Churches partnering with missionaries to evangelize should follow the strategy of the missionary, as they have immersed themselves in the language and culture of their host country and people.
In all, missionaries and churches must trust that only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart (Foundations). The Spirit of God empowers the people of God to bring witness to those who need God. Regardless of the strategy of evangelism, only God can open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears to embrace the gospel message. Thus, missionaries and partnering churches can share Jesus with confidence, knowing that He alone has the ability to bring the dead to life.
In a year that has been anything but normal, what has your church done in the area of missions? Dates had been set, plans had been made, funds had been set aside for that summer mission trip, then COVID hit. Everything practically shut down and, more than likely, your mission trip was cancelled. This left you somewhat disappointed but think about those you were going to serve.
COVID-19 has also left many of the missionaries disappointed and, in some instances, even discouraged. They were looking forward to the fellowship with volunteers and mission teams. They had projects to be completed. They were depending on resources and funds from those scheduled to come. They could no longer do ministry as usual and had to adjust their methods of service. They grew tired of constantly ministering and giving with no one to minister and pour into their own lives.
I pray that you did not forget these missionaries with whom you had planned to serve, but that you continued to stay in touch and encourage as much as you could. And it is not too late. Consider these ways you can continue to be involved in missions during the remainder of 2020.
Pray for the missionaries and ministries. Ask them for specific prayer requests.
Call or email the missionaries just to see how they are doing, encourage them and find out about specific needs.
Send a card to let the missionaries know you are thinking of them.
Send a care package or gift card to thank them for their service.
Provide resources that you know the ministry may need.
Donate to the ministry. One of the Kentucky missionaries shared that, even though mission teams had to cancel, a couple of them sent funds that they had set aside to use for their trip. The missionaries depend on these funds for ministry and these donations are a big help to continue ministering.
Pack a Christmas backpack for the missionaries to share with needy children. Since many Vacation Bible Schools were cancelled this year one church has suggested redirecting funds budgeted for VBS to fill Christmas backpacks.
Ask God to show you innovative ways to support the work of missionaries in Kentucky and abroad. Last year in our state many needy children and families were fed and clothed, homeless and hurting were ministered to, ladies with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies were encouraged to choose life instead of abortion, widows, internationals and refugees were served, those in prison or recovery were ministered to and, most of all, the Gospel of Christ was shared. Our Kentucky missionaries reported 2095 professions of faith in Christ last year as a result of their ministries and you were a part of this as your prayed, encouraged, gave and served with them. Thank you for adapting and not “cancelling” your 2020 mission experience!!