Relate – Short-term missions
I admit that I don’t keep up with trendy titles. It seems in vogue lately to refer to short-term teams as a “pilgrimage.” This new phrase is meant to replace “mission team,” implying a focus on the spiritual growth of the participants through what they experience in preparation, during, and after the trip. I think we used to call those retreats when I was in local church work, but it’s been too long ago now.
We still host short-term mission teams. The focus for these groups is to engage in meaningful, contextually appropriate ministry alongside of our local partners in order to give witness to the love of God expressed perfectly in Jesus Christ. We were blessed to host three of these short-term ministry teams so far this summer. I want to take just a second to mention a little about each one.
Howard Payne University Mission Class
In mid-May we hosted this fantastic team from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Dr. Melody Maxwell (in far left of photo green/blue) brought five talented students who had spent the semester learning about the Roma and studying missiology. Their study of missiology and cross-cultural ministry was put into practice when they served in Vazec, Slovakia, teaching English in the local school and conducting day camps with Roma children.
Vestavia Hills Baptist Church Youth Group
In late May/early June, the older youth from Vestavia Hills Baptist Church came to serve alongside our local partner in Lucenec and Cinobana, Slovakia. This team was put through the ultimate tests of what it means to be “flexible!” They taught English in four different schools, participated in International Children’s Day activities in both Cinobana and Lucenec (including singing for the community-wide gathering in Cinobana), stained wood which was used to construct a pavilion at the Lucenec Baptist Church, and even took on the challenge of competing with three Slovak soccer teams during a friendly, yet fierce competition.
First Baptist Church, Athens, Georgia, Youth Group
The last week of June we returned to Vazec with a well-prepared youth group from Georgia who hosted the Vazec Olympics Games! Each morning there were activities for older youth who were released from school to attend since it was the last week of the Slovak school year. The focus of the lessons was on making good decisions – important lessons for every age. Each afternoon, we took to the soccer field and tried to get the local kids interested in playing something other than soccer . . . not always successfully.
We have one more team arriving tomorrow and they will serve in Vazec as well. Each of these teams focused their ministry efforts in such a way to complement the ministry of our local partners: from recognizing the Church which already exists in each of these communities through participating with them in worship/youth group activities, to reaching out to the wider community through English as a Foreign Language, to working side-by-side with locals in catalytic ways which will have lasting results. We thank God for student and church groups that are committed to serving others first through these short-term mission trips.
Educate: A (rather long) Plea for Giving
We receive no ministry money from the Offering for Global Missions. “Well then why should we give to it then?” I am glad you asked.
The Offering for Global Missions is the sole source of support for our salary and operating budget. The Offering enables the Fellowship to hire, train, and place field personnel in settings where we can then serve as cross-cultural bridges for you and your churches to connect with contextually relevant ministry. The Offering puts missionaries on the field not in order to do ministry all alone, but in order for churches to connect with them as an extension of those churches’ calling to be on mission. This is the primary and necessary function of the Offering.
Our operating budget includes amounts for rent, travel, cell phone, internet access, and office expenses. In 2013/14, our operating budget amount is $29,225. Next year (14/15) it is set to be $26,385 – though that will likely need to be adjusted since Shane is now involved in the partnership between CBF and Baptist World Alliance and will be traveling to Geneva up to three times per year.
“Why send missionaries who don’t do ministry?” You really didn’t ask that, did you? We are always involved in doing ministry. Much of what we call missions takes place without a ministry budget – counselling with young believers, preaching, leading a Bible study, participating in a church camp, preparing and conducting health seminars, coordinating strategic meetings – where often the only expense is travel. We’re catalysts, remember?
The ministry projects we are involved with which require money, I believe, should rightly be a way to connect you – individuals and churches – with your calling to missions. It is healthy that money needed to conduct ministry be raised relationally in order to connect the giver to the mission. As reflected in 2 Corinthians and Philippians, Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus and Titus were the relational (and cross-cultural) connectors between the churches’ gifts and the recipients of those gifts. Raising funds for ministry is nothing new.
About half of all CBF field personnel now are what have been called “Partner Funded.” This means that they not only raise funds for their ministry projects, they are also raising funds for their salary as well as their operating budgets.
I suspect CBF must decide in the very near future if we continue to operate in this way or if we move towards a system where all salaries and basic operating budgets are provided for from the Offering for Global Missions and all ministry funds are raised through CBF-managed projects. This would level the field for all field personnel, encourage support for the Offering, and enable everyone to focus in ministry instead of fearing loss of funding and having to leave the mission field.
It may also clear up confusion by churches and individuals about why some CBF Field Personnel do not receive support from the Offering – and often do not emphasize it in their appeals – and why others have now started to ask for contributions to their projects for the first time.
All I wanted to do was let you know that the mailing address for contributions has changed (see below). Perhaps my musings on this topic are completely off base . . . or they may be on target. For now, please prayerfully and generously support the Offering for Global Missions.
McNary Projects - Make sure to include a note indicating MCNARY PROJECT along with the project number in your description as well.
SK/CZ Roma Mission Support (Project #89751)
Roma Health & Hunger (Project #89754)
Samuel Project (Project #89757)
Mail checks to: CBF, PO Box 102972, Atlanta, GA 30368-2972 or give online at The Fellowship (you will need to enter a project number). It is also possible to set up a recurring gift.
As of earlier this month, Shane has been appointed as one of Baptist World Alliance’s two permanent representatives at the United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland. The goal of the CBF/BWA partnership is to increase involvement in advocacy about human rights – including religious freedom - at the international level.
In Izmir, Turkey earlier in July, Shane presented a report about his experience at the two meetings at the UN he attended on behalf of BWA and CBF. Pray for BWA as they seek to fill the position of Director of the Division of Freedom and Justice.