Three Perspectives Of Foreign Missions
By Jerry Ramsey
The story is told of four blind men who were asked to de-scribe an elephant. Each of them approached the animal at a different point of his massive body. The first man felt the elephant’s trunk and thought it very much resembled a large snake. The second blind man approached the animal directly in front of one of its front legs and concluded that an elephant very much resembled a tree. The third man walked up to the huge creature broadside and, as he felt its side, decided that it closely resembled a wall. The fourth man came upon the animal from the rear and, catching hold of the tail, determined that an elephant was like a rope. Each blind man was able to describe the elephant partially but none of them was able to describe it fully. The reason was that none of them had an overall perspective. That may be the case with how Foreign Missions is perceived.
From a Pastor’s Standpoint: He has the every-day pressures of being a pastor in today’s world, often striving to operate with a 1997 budget in a 2007 society. With the demands of his family, congregation and secular job, along with the various functions on a sectional and district level, sometimes it seems that he just doesn’t have time for a missionary service. He also knows that the missionary’s main purpose in coming by is to ask for financial support. This puts additional pressure on the stressed out pastor who is having difficulty collecting the monthly Partner in Mission funds to which he is already committed. Doesn’t that Foreign Missions Director know he can’t take any more missionaries?
From A District Director’s Standpoint: Added to the normal duties of ministering, counseling and taking care of a family is the burden of scheduling many missionaries a year for church services so they will be able to get back to the land of their calling. The director must suppress the urge to hang up the phone and “just go fishing” after sometimes literally hours of very little if any positive results and make “just one more phone call”. He remembers all too well the sound of disappointment in the missionary’s voice the last time he was unable to give him a full schedule of services. He tries to walk that thin line between the overworked pastor and the harassed missionary. He takes his duties seriously because he knows the importance of getting the missionary back to the field as soon as possible. Each service he fails to schedule just means that much longer the missionary will have to travel on deputation. Many times, he must take his frustrations to God in prayer as he sees the lack of a burden for missions from a pastor.
From a Missionary’s Standpoint: He wearily hangs up the phone and fights back the resentment beginning to well up within his breast as he hears the same old story from a Foreign Missions District Director: “I was unable to get you a full schedule.” Sometimes frustration attempts to set in as he re-members the strong call from God and the many months of wrestling with that call in prayer until finally, with his face buried in a carpet made soggy with his tears, he accepted the will of God for his life. He wants to say, “Don’t those pastors know that I gave up a good church, a comfortable home and a nice income to fulfill the great commission so they wouldn’t have to answer the call?” Instead, he must find a place on his knees and remind the Lord that he is depending upon him to supply his needs and to move upon the hearts of pastors to take him on as a PIM so he can fulfill the call of God upon his life
So who has an accurate view of foreign missions? The answer is that none of us alone has the complete picture. However, by each of us doing our best to understand the position of the other, it will make for greater harmony and a better spirit of co-operation by all concerned. When we pull together, we can indeed reach every nation with the gospel of God!
This article “Three Perspectives Of Foreign Missions” written by Jerry Ramsey and first published by The Mississippi Torch in February 1993 is excerpted from Apostolic Accent.