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

Archive for the ‘Missions education’ Category

To Enjoy Me Forever? Reflecting on the Purposes of God

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

“In the early years of my walk with Jesus Christ I lived under the illusion that Christianity was about me,” confesses author and teacher Jeff Lewis. “I thought that I (man) was the center of God’s world; that my needs were the basis for His actions.” In fact, in God’s Heart for the Nations Lewis goes so far as to say, “I believed that the ultimate purpose of God was to grant me salvation and enjoy me forever!”

Many others have observed (and unfortunately also experienced) much the same thing. A me-focused or man-focused view of the scriptures may seriously distort our understanding of God and His purposes. We become blind us to God’s compassion for others and ultimately miss His passion for His kingdom. Instead of praying for the whole earth to be full of His glory (Psalm 72:19) and praising Jesus for ransoming people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 7:9), we may keep our eyes focused on ourselves and reserve our prayers for our own concerns and the needs of those close to us.

Of course there is hope, lots of hope. God pursues us and wants to open our eyes to the things that matter most to Him, which includes but is not limited to the person each one of us sees in the mirror. Mission trips and other cross-cultural experiences push us out of our comfort zone. They bring us face to face with the reality of our own self-centeredness and His invitation to trust Him and see ourselves and the world through His eyes. Many missionaries, struggling to raise support or master language and culture, come to the end of their own resources to find God will provide … and not just for their own sake (though He is serious about blessing them) but for the sake of His name among the nations.

What does it look like to see the world through God’s eyes? In Let the Nations Be Glad John Piper put it this way:

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshippers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”

This summer, do you need a reminder of God’s heart for the world? What about a refresher to help you share it with others? Pick up Lewis’s book or Piper’s, or turn directly to the scriptures and ask God to show you the golden thread of His plan and purposes in redeeming the peoples He created. For a do-it-yourself Bible study, you might explore a collection of more than 500 Bible verses about God’s heart for the world at

Begin motivating your church to missions in 2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

by David Armstrong

How can small churches motivate their people to missions?

As a leader of a small church, let me first recognize the very limited time a pastor or leader of a small church has to focus on any one thing. Pastors and leaders in small churches do everything from sweeping the floor to teaching the Word to settling petty arguments. And those things happen when they happen, not when you want them to happen.

So how in that busy, unpredictable setting does one motivate people to missions? My best response is — intentionally. It won’t happen by chance. Everything else will work to keep it at the bottom of the pile of good things to do.

As you start 2011, start by defining what two things you would like to see happen in your church in terms of mission emphasis. Make one of those goals educational in nature. Help them to better understand what God is doing around the world today. Help them understand what missions really is. Help them understand more clearly God’s heart of compassion. Help them visualize how they could be Jesus’ hands and feet in our really messed up world.

There are resources available to help you in this endeavor. You don’t have to be the expert, but not just anyone will do. Hand pick a missionary who has helped you better understand what God is doing around the world and have him speak. They need to be able to relate to your people and communicate in ways your people find interesting. (more…)

Interview with John McVay: Mentoring for Missions

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

by Paul Nielsen

M-DAT has been good friends with mission mobilizer John McVay for ten years now. His projects have included mission conferences and websites along with his service with In His Image, which trains medical professionals for Christian service. In this interview he talks specifically about mentoring the next generation of missionaries.

Propel: When and how did you become involved and interested in missions as a mobilizer?

John McVay: I read an illustration by Ralph Winter who said, “If you see a roaring fire you can grab your bucket, run to the stream, then run to the fire and pour water on it—and you can do that repeatedly. Or you could wake 100 sleeping firemen.” Missions mobilization is waking the 100 sleeping firemen. In my current season of life God is guiding me to wake the 100 sleeping firemen.

Propel: What is the importance of mentoring in the context of missions?

John McVay: Most aspiring missionaries struggle with feelings of inadequacy. They need mentors to encourage them to abide in Christ and trust in His strength. (more…)

Urbana 09 to Highlight Pressing Missions Issues

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Urbana 09, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s 22nd Student Missions Conference, will address some of the most pressing global issues presently faced by missions practitioners around the world. More than 20,000 people, from every state and many nations, are expected to attend Urbana 09, December 27–31, 2009, in St. Louis. Each day at Urbana 09 the program will focus on a different issue and the challenges it presents.

The four issues in focus are:

Urbana Student Mission ConferenceMovement of Peoples
Millions of people are being dramatically affected by immigration, migration, and human trafficking. In the midst of great human suffering, there are opportunities for people to come to know Christ, who was Himself a refugee and understands their sufferings. Urbana will provide an introduction to the different types of people movement around the world, both voluntary and involuntary, and will create the case for why it’s important for both missions practitioners and those who support them to understand this issue.


Davis Interview: Missions and aviation

Monday, August 25th, 2008

This issue’s interview is part two with Chester and Amy Davis. I’ve known Chester and Amy for 15 years now. They live with their four young children in Lincoln, Nebraska while Chester finishes up a mechanical engineering degree.

Chester and Amy present some ideas here that are challenging and outside of the norm; I was hoping for this when I emailed them about doing this interview. In their own words, they are living intentionally. Their intention: To serve God in the area of missions that uses their gifts and fills a need. They are as dedicated as anyone I’ve personally known in living out this desire. While not everyone will agree with all of their observations or exhortations, the sacrifices they’ve made along the way are something every aspiring missionary needs to seriously consider.

Propel: How long have you been interested in long-term missions? When and how did this interest begin?

Chester: I was brought up in an environment where it was not possible to be completely self-absorbed and where ministry in all forms was encouraged. So it really has never crossed my mind to not be involved in some type of ministry. Going the standard route of fifty-plus hours a week and watching football on weekends has been something that is near repulsive to me. The only specific change I recall is that while in the Military my heart was enlarged towards other nations and cultures.

Amy: When I was young my parents wanted to be missionaries, so I’ve always looked up to missionaries as some sort of celebrity, hoping that someday I would be that cool. With age that has taken different forms; I chose to major in computer science in college so that I could perhaps use that computer skill to work with Wycliffe. During college I was involved with International student ministry, then I wanted to go to India or a Muslim country. After getting married, we learned that JAARS does research and development in the missionary aviation field, and think that this is a good match for the passions and abilities that God has given us.

Propel: You’ve been pursuing missions aviation for a number of years now. How and why is aviation important to missions?

Chester: Aviation remains a key component to world missions because of the lack of transportation infrastructure in the undeveloped portions of the world where missionaries are doing Bible translation and humanitarian oriented ministry. While the need has declined since the advent of radio and satellite communication, some locations simply require access for supplies and personnel that is not feasible by other means. Missions and aviation has always turned my crank, and so when the opportunity to combine these things exists why would I look for anything else?

Propel: You’ve committed to a significant amount of schooling in order to fulfill a specific need in the missions community. How does a person interested in missions weigh the pros and cons of such lengthy preparation in lieu of getting to the field more quickly? (more…)

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