Below is the contents of a special prayer guide that was distributed at my church yesterday. It came after this sermon from Matthew 24 on “Finishing the Mission” and involves an upcoming short-term trip. Some of the information has been redacted for security purposes.
Please join us praying for wisdom in the coming weeks.
PRAYING FOR MISSION
The Situation Before Us
Since 2007, Crossway has been in partnership with mission work among the T people. This involves regularly praying for the people, encouraging the field missionaries, supporting the work through the giving of time and resource, and engaging in trips to assists our missionaries.
We have another trip planned for January 2012. This trip was previously planned for earlier this year but had to be postponed for security reasons.
Now, those security concerns are still lingering, and we are forced with question: will we go to N in January, despite the risk? Understand that we are not asking, ‘Is it safe to go?’ It’s not safe. Instead, we are asking, ‘Is the risk involved outweighed by the ministry that will be accomplished by going?’
Thinking Through the Details
So, how will we come to a decision? First, we need to think through the details of the situation and what the Bible says about the task of global missions. Here are some relevant highlights:
Thinking through the situation
- There is a stated threat from local Al-Qaeda. The State department is recommending restricted travel within the country of N.
- This threat has been seen as real from a few instances of activity in the country. The local Al-Qaeda group has kidnapped a French man and attempted the kidnapping of two other French citizens.
- We have long term personal that remain in the area, unaffected by the threat. These missionaries live on the edge of the restricted travel area but have had no problems.
- Other groups have and continue to go on short term trips, including some of our sister churches in Michigan and one of our seminaries.
- The threat seems targeted at French nationals. The group seems to be kidnapping French citizens to gain a ransom. The United States will not negotiate with terrorists, therefore no ransom can be gained.
- The threat lingers but is actually few in specifics. The State Department travel warning remains in place, but there have been no recent incidents in N where we will be traveling.
- Our work there cannot be done away from the field as a home project. The field missionaries are asking us to serve alongside them in direct disciple-making with nationals.
- The T people are an unreached people group with few believers and no self-sustaining Church.
Thinking through Biblical teaching
- Paul knew when to sneak out of town at night and when to stay and suffer for Christ (Acts 9:23-25; 29-30; Acts 14:19-23). By example, there is Spirit-given wisdom which leads us to know how best to serve Christ.
- We are told to be involved in mission work (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). This is the central command of Jesus to us as his disciples. Until every people group hears the gospel, this task doesn’t end (Matt 24:14).
- Doing mission will always involve risk on some level, even as simply living faithfully as Christians will involve risk (2 Tim 3:12). The risk we face in missions will only increase as we seek to finish the great commission, going to the hardest-to-reach peoples.
- We are told to count the cost of following Christ, but also to love Christ more than the world (Luke 14:25-33; Matt 13:44; 1 John 2:15-17).
- Suffering—even death—is often used to advance God’s purposes (Acts 7:54-8:4).
What We Asking You to Do
In light of these things, the elders do not want to move too quickly to a decision. We have postponed the trip for safety once already and we may have to again. But we may also go despite the risk. Either way, a deadline for a decision is approaching. By October 1, the team will have to purchase tickets and begin getting immunized.
Therefore, the elders are calling the entire church to a time of prayer and fasting. For three weeks (September 11-30), we are asking every member to spend significant time seeking God’s will for this decision. At the end of this time, we will make a decision about whether or not to go at this time.
The following are some specific things you can be praying for in regards to this trip.
Directions for Prayer
Wisdom from God
Ask God to help us apply what he has told in his Word about himself and the mission he calls us to. Ask him to fill us with a Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10).
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
Trust in God
Ask God to help us trust him with this decision. Ask him to help us take our eyes of reliance off of everything but him.
From where does my help come? 2My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (Genesis 18:25).
Faithfulness to God
Ask God that the decision we come to would be one that is marked by faithfulness to him and his gospel mission.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:23-24).
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Glory of God
Ask God to so guide us in our decision-making that he would be brought the most glory in our staying or going.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name (Psalm 79:9).