Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Becoming an International Missionary While Living in the U.S.

Attempting a phone call when Allen and Trish are maneuvering the roads of mountainous Western Honduras is sort of like trying to speak to the passengers of a space shuttle with two tin cans and a really long piece of string. The call went something like this: Trish talked while Allen drove and shouted out the occasional idea. I took notes and the call dropped. Trish talked for a few more minutes before realizing I wasn’t there. Trish called back. Lather, rinse, repeat. In the end, we managed to squeeze about twenty minutes worth of talking into a little more than an hour. What was so important that Trish was willing to do battle with uncooperative cell towers? I’m glad you asked.

The theme of the call was “How to be an International Missionary While Living in the U.S.” No, the previous sentence was not the result of a bad connection. It was the result of some serious thought. Allen and Trish know not everyone is called to go and live on the mission field. Maybe they're not even called to go on a short-term mission trip. Perhaps they don’t have the financial resources or they feel their resources can be put to better use. Maybe they can’t get the time off of work, or they have young children they can't leave.

It can be intimidating to hear about the amazing work Kim and Jonathan Hall do with Manna 4 Lempira, and the sacrifices Jim and Denise Cofer make each year with the annual shipping container from MD. People with special skills and training do super cool things; like Jenny Oetting spending a month in Honduras making videos of the ministry programs, and Pastor Tim Webster teaching at the Pastors' Training School. But even if you have zilcho plans of going on a short-term mission trip and don’t feel called to be a full-time international missionary, you can still contribute to the cause. Lots of people are doing just that.

Packing backpacks at FBC
People like Mary Richard at Fredericktowne Baptist Church spend time throughout the year packing backpacks. Most Thursday evenings find Mary at FBC doing just that. She also encourages others to become involved. As Trish said, just before being disconnected for the umpteenth time, “That level, of being a promoter, is huge for us. We generally can't approach churches and groups from the outside and ask for their help - usually someone who is part of the group has to make that first step, to promote our ministry to the group.”

Trish also mentioned a mutual friend of ours in Florida, whose husband is an elevator repairman. That friend has the opportunity to acquire elevator cable, which Sowers4Pastors can use for some bridge projects. Another man, who does road engineering, is working to get the ministry heavier cable from construction cranes, that can be used in car bridges. From the driver’s seat, Allen yelled out that a number of people who work in building maintenance have been instrumental in getting them cable, as well.

One of Trish’s friends in Maryland remembered the ministry when her mother passed away. She donated all of her mother’s clothing to Sowers4Pastors. Trish stressed, “It was a very big deal to us. She had the clothing and needed to do something with it. We were able to pass some very nice items of clothing on to our pastors’ wives.”

There are people who sort through donations and remove items not needed for the population Sowers4Pastors serves (like XX-Large shirts). By weeding out things that can’t be used, more space is cleared for much needed items. This is a never-ending job!

Just a few of the refurbished dolls!

Some people go to Goodwill throughout the year and purchase Barbies and stuffed animals, which are still in good condition. One such woman collected dolls all year, washed them, fixed their hair, made repairs to clothing and donated around 2000 Barbies and baby dolls this past year!

Letters from sponsors to children, ready to be
delivered, already translated into Spanish
Within each stateside church in the Sister Church Sponsorship Program, someone steps up to be in charge of paperwork. Within those same churches, people fluent in Spanish are able to help translate letters to and from the children.

There are groups, such as "Kids Against Hunger," "Feed My Starving Children," and many others, that collect ingredients and put together packaged meals to feed starving children. Churches, Scout Troops, etc, pay a fee to schedule an event and come together to package the bags. The groups scheduling packing parties don’t have to designate where the food goes, but they have the option to do so. When they designate Sowers4Pastors to receive the food they've packed, it allows the ministry to have more precious food to give out at feeding centers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Why don’t you spend some time thinking about what you can do to become an international missionary without ever leaving your home? As Allen bellowed over the bad connection, “Networking! It’s missions networking!”

- posted by Christi

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