Thursday, January 02, 2014

Lesson 5: Support Ministries

Probably the largest activity of missionaries is supporting the “machinery” of missions, which we call support ministries.  Administrators, teachers, guesthouse operators, printing Bibles or tracts, radio and television ministries and even translators of Scripture are what I would consider to be second tier ministries.  All of these support ministries and helpful as they are a part of the body that serves overseas.  Without support ministries many church planting programs would not exist.

Teachers – When we lived in Kenya our daughters attended Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school for missionary kids.  RVA is an old school, started around the time of Teddy Roosevelt, which serves missionary families all over Africa.  In today’s world the option of home schooling is available but providing for MK education is still not easy for missionaries working in remote parts of the world.  If it were not for the missionaries of RVA to serve missionary kids our work would have been more difficult.  There are schools for missionary kids all over the globe and some of them are in remote areas.  Teachers on the mission field are one category of support ministries.

Translators – Translating the Scriptures into the “heart” language of the people is an important mission undertaking.  Though not as essential as it was one hundred years ago, there are still many languages that do not have the Bible in their own mother tongue.  According to Wycliffe, there 180 million people who do not have the Scriptures in their language.  That does not mean they do not have access to God’s Word.  Though the Scriptures may not be translated into a tribal language, the people may still have God’s Word in Spanish, French, English, Hindi, Swahili, etc.  Wycliffe, and other translation missionaries, are also involved in literacy programs.

Administrators – Wherever there is a large missionary presence on a field you will find administrators.  I know many mission organizations that have team or field leaders which oversee the work and activity of the missionary community in the country. 

The job description of support missionaries is too numerous to mention.  The challenge for the missions team of the local sending church is recognize that there is a difference in missionary activity and to write a guideline on what type of support ministries they want to promote.  Though most missionary projects are valuable, not all are equal.  It is up to the local church mission team to decide who and how much the church body wants to be involved with.  

What about feeding the poor?  Next post I will discuss missionary “social work.”