Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Not What His Disciples Expected

By David Armstrong

The disciples had seen God do amazing things when they preached in the villages of Israel. They had asked whether this was the time when Israel would be restored to prominence. They were focused on Israel. They were focused on the people and place in front of them and found it difficult to think beyond the borders of Palestine. Yet that was the next step Jesus had for them after his death and resurrection. Filled with the Spirit, they were to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

This was so beyond their mindset that God had to give Peter a special vision. He showed Peter that Gentiles were not unclean and sent him to share the gospel with the Roman soldier Cornelius (Acts 10). Even after that, God raised up someone else—Paul, raised in Greek culture as well as Hebrew scripture—to lead the charge in taking the gospel beyond the Jewish world.

Matthew 28 shows us something else. It shows us Jesus did not send his first followers to take the gospel to the nations and then come back home again. He wanted them to stay as an example, helping new followers integrate the good news about Jesus into their daily lives. That meant the disciples had to go and live among the very people they had been taught all their lives to stay away from. To make disciples of all nations was not what they were expecting… but it was the means by which whoever believed would not perish but have eternal life, the wonderful news Jesus revealed to Nicodemus (John 3:16).

A Call to Lift up Our Eyes

Today, when you hear about the persecuted in the Middle East or conflicts in Ukraine, how do you respond? Do they feel too far removed from us to dwell on? How easily we human beings seek God’s best for “me” and “mine,” when God wants to extend the blessing of relationship with him to all the world!

A practice that may help: May I challenge you to pray your way through the news? As you hear, see, and read what is happening on the other side of the world, pray for the people and the situations in which they are forced to live. And pray, even more, that God would use these events to turn people’s eyes toward him.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that God thinks as much about people far removed from us as he does about you and me. And God also moves on their behalf in response to your prayers and mine. Ask God to give you his heart for the nations. May he stretch you and me to see them as he sees them.

People of all denominations pray together in the public square in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo by Sergey Baliuk, via United Bible Societies (article here).

Two Strategies for Praying through the News

1. Use your regular news sources, but add prayer.

Broadcast news doesn’t lend itself to a prayerful and contemplative response since as soon as one story is done they are on to the next one. But if you take in your world news online or in print, it’s easy to stop and pray for the people affected by a story after you read it.

There are lots of ways to involve others in your efforts to pray through the news. Cut or print out articles to share with your family, small group, or church class, or, maybe better yet, put a news source in their hands and ask them to choose an international news story to respond to in prayer.

Also consider news sources with more international content or perspectives you might not get from your regular news sources. Check out the BBC, AllAfrica.com, or one or more of the thousands of international sources listed by country and region at onlinenewspapers.com.

2. Follow a news source designed for prayer.

World in Prayer is a website with beautiful prayers of petition and gratitude in response to changing global situations. Started by an Episcopal Church in California, it’s now produced by an all-volunteer team of 15 people on two continents and representing half a dozen different denominations.

You might also find fuel for prayer from Mission Network News, Mission Catalyst’s News Briefs, Operation Mobilization’s Newsbytes, or updates directly from missionaries and agencies you know.

Gratitude and Prayer

Gratitude

  • Thank you for praying about a new service for creating monthly reports for the 100+ organizations we partner with for ShortTermMissions.com. After much time and effort, we concluded the service would not do what we needed and will instead use raw data from Google Analytics to create the reports.
  • Hurray! With many good questions and answers on AskaMissionary.com, we are grateful that our designer is working away on a new way to display them. A new system will include subcategories to help visitors quickly find content they care about.
  • Praise God we have been able to help 118,124 people through ShortTermMissions.com and 33,679 through AskaMissionary.com so far this year. We love seeing such interest in being part of what God is doing in the world.

Prayer

  • Continue to pray for Matias, our programmer in Argentina, as he revamps of the data tables and functions of the management side of ShortTermMissions.com. It’s a big challenge.
  • Pray for Dani, our customer service director, as she spends the next two weeks in Kenya with a church mission team! Pray for safety, good connections with the people they serve, and a fresh sense of our daily dependence on the Spirit.

On Becoming a Missionary

What do would-be Christian missionaries want to know? What would you say if they came to you asking what training they need? What to do about raising support? Maybe they are looking for advice about a college major, mission agency, or potential spouse! Maybe they don’t even know what to ask, but only have a vague picture of what God may be asking of them.

AskaMissionary.com is set up to field questions from prospective missionaries. Designed and created by Dr. John McVay of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it offers helpful answers from experienced overseas workers and mission professionals. AskaMissionary.com provides a safe place for users to discover what it might take to get overseas and what they might find when they get there. It helps them discover what they need to think through and learn from those who have gone before them. It comes alongside those who are somewhere in the process between feeling God’s tug into missions and actually buying their tickets to go.

In 2009 M-DAT took over management of the site. We gave it a new foundation and easy-to-use content management system. Additional changes have been made to make the site more attractive, usable, and mobile-friendly. Readers post new questions and answers. Many find their concerns addressed in content already published on the site, though others write in for advice about their specific situation and are connected with resources, ministries, and missionaries who can help. The best of that correspondence makes its way onto the site as well.

But how many people actually use AskaMissionary.com? Three years ago, the site was getting 2000 unique visitors each month. Since then the numbers have doubled to 4000. Think about it: If you put on a mission conference and 4000 people came, you would probably consider it quite a success! That’s happening every month at AskaMissionary.com.

Visiting a website may not achieve all that a face-to-face event can, but it has its own strengths. Like M-DAT’s other sites, it is designed so users can go right to what interests them and not be overwhelmed by input. They can choose to be anonymous or engage directly. The site is available when they have more questions later on and whatever time of day fits their busy schedule. It serves as a reference and tool for campus ministries, church mission leaders, teachers, missionaries, and mobilizers who direct others to the site as well as sometimes contributing content from their own experience.

Thanks for being supportive of M-DAT’s work making all this possible. We are thrilled at the chance to be part of God’s plan for getting people involved in what he is doing around the world.

If you’re interested, here are three things you can do:

You might also be interested in browsing through the newly revised resource section.

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