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

Archive for January, 2007

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Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

M-DAT Executive Director

The M-DAT Vision, part 3 of 4

Our vision is that every believer desiring growth in mission involvement would obtain the practical assistance necessary to realize significant, lifelong involvement in the Great Commission.

Believers need assistance in order to realize mission involvement. A person does not just fall into missions. Nor does involvement continue to grow once it begins. It requires nurturing. God transforms us and develops in us a heart to love as He loved (John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world!”), and we must faithfully live it out.

Unfortunately, believers often stall out for lack of information, a clear path, or ease of executing a decision. God has called M-DAT to guide and connect believers pursuing missions with practical assistance to move forward.

With a range of mission conferences and great mission books available one may think enough resources exist for believers pursuing missions. These resources, however, are not easily accessible. Bookstores carry few mission titles if any and regional mission conferences only occur once a year. Some churches step up to the plate and provide access to information, resources, and even mentoring throughout the year. Many churches do little or nothing.

We envision a new level of access to Great Commission enabling resources. At a time when people expect to find information online, the internet allows us to deliver practical content whenever and wherever. However, we do not want believers simply to be aware of the resources we create; we want people to actually use them and receive true help — to obtain practical assistance.

M-DAT prayer and gratitude: January 2007

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Urbana proved more successful than we imagined! We met our goal in publicizing, and sending organizations are already signing up for the service as a result of networking at the conference. Recruiting potential exceeded our vague expectations as well. Mingling with the attendees at Urbana left us more convinced than ever of the need for missions information to be readily available on the internet. Continue to pray for staffing needs here at M-DAT. With a few more full-time people, some of these online information needs could be taken care of, and more people would be more quickly off to the field, to the unreached.

What about debt and missions?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

by Paul Nielsen

In college a friend of mine participated in a mission trip to Peru. He returned very excited about the ministry and the people in Peru, and after returning he volunteered at length with them. He also spoke about going overseas long-term.

But he had debt, lots of debt. Most of the borrowed money paid for classes, and after changing his major at least twice at that point he owed around $50,000. This was with roughly two years left to finish a degree.

After realizing how difficult it would be to serve long-term with such debt he quickly changed his lifestyle. He sold his new jeep, took the bus and stopped eating out so much. Despite this pretty radical lifestyle adjustment the debt remained oppressive — and not just financially. He emailed me after some time talking about how discouraged he was, feeling God leading him to serve in ministry full-time, but not being able to follow that call.

This is not unusual, as the interview accompanying this article attests to. In the United States borrowing from the bank is second nature for us. My college friend once shared with me how his father borrowed to pay for books bought online.

70% of U.S. missionaries raise personal support in order to serve. Many sending organizations don’t let missionary candidates raise support to pay for debt — especially money owed on credit cards. Financial supporters want their donations to go towards ministry. There are exceptions from time to time, especially with respect to student loans. A recent ELIC brochure clearly stated that they accept candidates with student loans.

My wife and I presently serve stateside in a mobilizing role. When we began this venture, I was just out of college and owed $15,000 in student loans. Our plan was for her to continue working after I began drawing a salary at M-DAT until the loans were paid off. It was a good idea (Although it ended up not working exactly as we hoped.) but one that probably won’t work overseas.

I still remember being a college student and realize how trivial the idea of borrowing to pay for school seemed at the time. There are people like my beautiful wife who get some absurdly high score on their ACT (I think hers was 7,900,000 when rounded down) and have to keep Ivy League scholarship offers at bay with a broom. And then there are the rest of us — the most of us — who understand we’ll probably need to borrow money just to make it through a public university.

After you graduate reality sets in. Debt ties you down. Avoid it at all costs, and I mean that literally. And if you’re already strapped with loans, pay them off as quickly as possible. Forgo the lattés, the new technology and the new car. After all, you’ll be living on a missionary’s salary soon enough anyway — and driving is overrated. Walk or take the bus.


American debt and missions: Interview with Eddie Landreth

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

by Paul Nielsen

Eddie Landreth and his wife Rhonda are pointed towards the long-term mission field. They presently volunteer in many different ways at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but their hearts are aimed at cross-cultural missions

Propel: Do you remember when and how this passion, this interest for world missions began for you?

Eddie: Rhonda and I felt God’s call on our lives at First Baptist Church McAlester, Oklahoma, in June 2002. It was during a missions festival we attended just a month after my first mission trip to Malawi, Africa. I knew that this was my purpose in life. God confirmed it by calling us both at the same time.

P: In what ways were you involved in missions this past year?

E: I went to India with the Washington-Madison Baptist Association last May to help with Tsunami relief work. We went to help build a “vocational/lifestyle rehabilitation” in Vidjayawada. I have taken the IMB’s Thessalonica training course taught by the author and IMB facilitator Bruce Carlton.

P: What obstacles have you encountered as you have pursued your interest in world missions?

E: My wife and I are currently and persistently working towards becoming debt-free so that we may pursue our calling to serve God wherever he sends us.

P: What would help you overcome the obstacle, the debt?

E: An outpouring of God’s abundant grace in providing a way for this debt to go away!

P: How has God used other people or resources to help you along as you continue to pursue missions?

E: We often find ourselves discouraged because we don’t see things happening fast enough. I personally get dejected at times. However, when this happens and never without fail God puts someone in our path to bring missions to the forefront of our thinking. I can be in a poor frame of mind and will come home to find that I have received emails from many friends in four different continents, eight different countries. This is my silent confirmation from God. He has called us to this undertaking. Why should I doubt that he will not provide a way to make it happen? I must remember to remain in Him and we will receive these things in His time, not ours.

P: How would you like your missions involvement to look ten years from now?

E: I fully expect to be on the field. If not we will continue to serve locally, wherever He leads.

P: You’re a member of a Southern Baptist Church, correct? How has this influenced your missions vision for good or bad? Or has it influenced it at all? I’m interested to know your thoughts on the IMB, the way they function and the work they are currently involved in abroad, perhaps in particular where you see yourself serving with them.

E: As we are Southern Baptists, we will apply as missionaries to the IMB. If for some reason the IMB doesn’t share in our being sent, then we will simply find another sending agency. We believe God has called us and that He is currently preparing us. He will send us out. I believe that the The Cooperative Program that is currently in place is a wonderful way for all churches in the Southern Baptist Convention to participate in God’s plan for missions. I also can appreciate how IMB missionaries are allowed to spend all their time serving in the field. Most other sending agencies require that their personel spend up to half of their time raising their own support. I think that would be most distracting and disheartening as I can see that this might require a lot of time and energy that could be spent on assignment. It is our prayer that God would use us wherever and however He sees fit.


Eddie on a mission trip, in the back with the straw hat

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