As we are finishing up the sixth month of our tentative one-year furlough, I am reminded of the blessing that we have in our model of missions as Independent Baptist. To my knowledge, there is nothing else out there like it
We have an incredible network of independent churches that are willing to partner with missionaries from various Baptist churches of like faith and practice to evangelize the world. For the majority of our missions programs, the focus is on church planting because we understand that “the local church exists to evangelize the world. Jesus commanded believers to be witnesses of Him to the entire world. Each local church should be involved in preaching the gospel to their local area and sending missionaries to preach the gospel in all parts of the world. Together we can pray, give and go.” We have been convinced that “the mandate of the church was to make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world.”
My family and I started deputation about 10 years ago, finished in 19 months, served in China for 8 years (with a couple short trips in those years), and then we have been on furlough for almost 6 months. Lord willing, we will be on furlough for another six months and then head back to China to continue our church planting ministry. So now that I have been traveling again, I have visited many of our supporting churches and also met many new churches. I am reminded of much of what I learned about our “deputation system” or the way that we network as Independent Baptist to raise finances, prayer, and laborers. Not to mention the incredible blessing that we have to go into local churches and “rehearsed all that God had done” with us, and how He had “opened the door of faith” unto the Chinese (Acts 14:27). I wrote about those things that I found as “Blessings of Deputation” here in 2011.
Another blessing of the way we organize our missions effort is that local churches are not only the main focus of the work of the missionaries on the field but local churches are also the core of how we raise financial support, raise up new laborers for the great harvest field of the world, and build partnerships with believers who are encouraging us as we go forward into the fight, knowing that we are doing this together to advance the gospel in our generation. We build real relationships that allow, not only the missionaries, but local churches to be directly involved in world missions through real relationships with their missionaries; they can give to real missions projects of the missionaries they know; they can pray for those the missionaries are trying to reach by name as they read their prayer letters and various updates. I know many missionaries who don’t have a network as we do and they are almost not connected to local churches that are cheering for their success and get behind them in so many different ways. Our model of missions is a blessing! And if you are a missionary in our ranks and want this kind of support structure, it is there if you want it. Yes, it takes work to build it and maintain it, but if a missionary is afraid of work, he shouldn’t go to the field anyways. The devil is not going to hand over any victories to you just because you arrive on the field. We are in a spiritual war and we have to act like men of God who know that Jesus is with us alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20)
So let us continue on! Let us keep going forward with this wonderful system that we have. Please don’t lose focus. Local churches are the key of world evangelism, both in going and sending. Churches, let us continue to partner with church planting missionaries as the best method to reach local communities all over the world. Missionaries, let us continue to partner with local churches to facilitate the necessary partnerships that we all need to make a greater impact. There is always room for improvement, no system is perfect, but our model of missions as Independent Baptist is truly a blessing!