If a missionary wants to serve in East Asia, they need a strong base of supporters. Spiritual ministry in another culture is challenging. Therefore, OMF Germany sets two conditions for prospective missionaries before they are sent to East Asia:
1) They need at least 30 prayer partners
2) A church that is committed as a mission partner behind their ministry.
The global influence of a local church
For me, meeting with the leadership of a church is one of the most beautiful parts of walking alongside new missionaries.
Many churches are not so aware of their role in world mission. When I explain the importance OMF attaches to the spiritual support of churches, many see this as an eye-opener for their worldwide spiritual significance.
In the course of the discussions we are able to set expectations for the partnership. Churches who feel they alone are committed to financing the work of the missionary find most OMF workers also have a network of personal financial supporters. Churches that assume the spiritual responsibility for the missionary lies with the missionary society discover we place a high value on the spiritual support of the sending churches.
Partnership: Lessening the burden for all
But there is also the opposite. I have come to know churches that were afraid to take full responsibility for their missionaries. How could they shoulder the many necessary aspects, from administration to the overview of tasks in the country of assignment?
For many churches it is a huge relief when I put the cooperation agreement of OMF Germany on the table. It explains exactly what contribution each individual partner makes in mission work. In order that the Good News of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed among East Asians, many co-workers are needed. Not everyone has to do everything. But everyone has to do his or her part so that the Gospel can run around the world.
What is the missionary’s role in the partnership?
The missionary is the “executive organ” of the mission. In the name and on behalf of the Church he is a witness of Jesus “at the ends of the earth”.
As part of their sending church, the missionary commits to take part in the processes of the church also from abroad and to pray regularly for it. He also reports regularly on his work and gives an honest account of his ministry. Only in this way can the church pray specifically. It is good manners to express thanks for donations and prayers.
What is OMF’s role in the partnership?
OMF is responsible for the legal aspects of a mission and coordinates the local mission work.
An important task of OMF in its home country is to ensure the legal framework for its missionaries. This includes taking out social, pension and accident insurance and managing donations.
In East Asia, OMF organizes everything the missionary needs for their ministry. This includes language studies, personal and pastoral care, medical care as well as the selection of a suitable ministry location.
In order to do justice to the partnership, the congregation is involved when important decisions have to be made. To this end, OMF Germany has proven its worth by visiting the sending church once a year.
What is the role of the church in the partnership?
The sending church is responsible for the spiritual and personal well-being of the missionary.
This begins with a commissioning service. Establishing a mission team that maintains the link between the missionary and the church has proven effective. If the missionary’s news is passed on promptly, they can be prayed for in the Sunday service and Church groups.
In addition to prayer, personal encouragement is important. How pleasant it is when a parcel is in the mailbox at Christmas or when the church has sent postcards for birthday.
In addition, a sending church contributes as much as it can to the missionary’s financial support. Many churches give a fixed amount per month. Others regularly collect offering money in worship services but also encourage church members to support their missionaries with a standing order.
Working together, celebrating together
An important point are the so-called “returnee conversations”: When a missionary comes on Home Assignment, the three partners: Church, missionary and missionary society meet to evaluate the period of service.
First the missionary reports about their ministry. What did Jesus do? What was good? What was frustrating? What successes could they celebrate? What defeats did they suffer?
Then we go on and ask: what went well in our partnership? What should we keep? What do we have to do better in the next phase?
Mission is partnership. Everyone plays their part in making Jesus known.
What’s your place in mission?
Communications Coordinator, OMF Germany
Will you pray?
Give thanks for the partnerships between OMF and sending churches in Germany around the world. Praise God for how these partnerships enable local churches to have a global influence for his glory.
Pray for churches considering sending members through a mission agency such as OMF. Pray they would be encouraged by seeing the part everyone plays in this partnership and that they don’t go it alone in supporting their members.