Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17)
The BCBC Sunday School has initiated a mission outreach program at the Western North Carolina Rescue Mission.* Our students head to the mission once or twice each month. They serve food, wash dishes, and clean tables. They speak with the residents. Chase Massey is one of about six or seven in his class participating in the program.
Chase shares his thoughts about a conversation he had with one of the residents.
“This guy got in with the wrong crowd when he was young. He got caught up in it for a long time.” Finally, he grew tired of his life as he was living it and “started acting right”. Yes, “it’s a good thing,” Chase told the man, “but it will probably be tough. You just have to stay strong and stick with it.” Good advice.
After Chase left the mission he reflected on the day. “It’s kind of a strange feeling,” he says. “I feel better, but at the same time I feel weird.” He concludes, “I’m thankful that my life is more together,” while at the same time “I feel bad”. “Somewhere along the line somebody fed that man bad information.” “One wrong choice led him down hill.”
Many of the most important moments in life occur when we’re young. These lessons form our character and define us. The man Chase met is learning from his past to shape his future. Chase will use this interaction to shape his future as well.
What about the rest of us?
Evangelizing the unreached is not without its costs. Missionaries need and deserve the best care before, during, and after their mission to keep them resilient and effective.
Kenneth Williams, writing in Missionary Care: Counting the Cost for World Evangelization, tells us that the Apostle Paul is an excellent model of one who needed others to care for him. In his letters, Paul mentions at least 75 friends and colleagues who played a significant role in his life and ministry — many of whom ministered to him.
Except for Luke, there’s no evidence that any of them were “professional” caregivers. Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus comforted Paul (Colossians 4:10-11). Onesiphorus refreshed Paul and wasn’t ashamed to be with him in prison (2 Timothy 1:16). Phoebe was a patron (Romans 16:1-2), while Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus lifted his spirits (1 Corinthians 16:17).
Like Paul, Chase and his colleagues need ongoing support from their church family. Our work doesn’t end after providing financial gifts and encouragement before they leave to do God’s work. Upon returning home, the biblical model for caring includes help in bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2), encouraging and building them up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and restoring those in doubt (Galatians 6:1).
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2).
Young missionaries are vulnerable to the problems of people they meet in the field. So, it’s not surprising that when they reflect and compare their station in life they ask, “Why not me?” We must be ready to do our part in supporting our young evangelists. It starts by asking about their experience and listening (James 1:19) as they share what’s in their heart.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)
*Correction: In an earlier version ABCCM (Asheville Buncombe Christian Community Ministry) was listed as the location of the ministry.