Our pastor made our missionary call possible
By Patrick Nabwera
Prayer has been a crucial need for our family and our work. My wife and I serve far from our home country, and our pastor back home mobilizes the whole congregation to pray for us. He would tell them at a Sunday service to look in the direction of our mission field and pray, then he would sum up the prayer. This encourages us.
One time, our pastor was not able to give us any financial support. He held my hand and he prayed, “God, we do not have what to give them, but we pray that you provide for them.” And for sure, the Lord provided. My pastor was honest, and I knew the situation then. When the time came, he mobilized the church to support us with resources.
Another time, our pastor sent a sister to visit us in our mission field, about 2500km away by road. Seeing this sister was like seeing an angel sent from God. Her presence was not only encouraging, it was also an opportunity for her to go back and share with the pastor and the local church the realities in our mission field. This increased prayer and concern for us.
Our children were in schools not far from our home church while we were on the mission field. Often, we could not visit them on the required visiting days due to distance. Our pastor, his wife, his assistant pastor, and some members of our local church would go visit them. This support made us feel we were not alone but belonged to a community of faith.
During our rest at home from the field, our pastor would give us the opportunity to share our testimonies with the whole congregation. Later, he joined the small group of believers who would come to listen to more stories from the field. His presence in the meeting made others see its importance. Besides this, the pastor always created time to fellowship, listen to our missionary journey and our next steps. He constantly reminded the congregation to support us since we are missionaries sent by this local church. His commendation increased the value of our mission work in the eyes of our church.
I liken cross-cultural missions to the image of walking on two legs. One leg is “going” and the other is “sending”. Just as it is impractical, tiring, slow, and hard to hop on one leg, so it is with doing missions on one leg—going without sending. Paul asks, “And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:15a). And John counsels that those who send should send in a manner worthy of God (3 Jn. 6). In light of this, a local church is crucial for effective mission work. And key to the local church is its leader, the local pastor.