BY JOHN AND BONNIE CAMPBELL
A covenant is a promise that leads to a sacred partnership. The Bible tells us a lot about covenants that God initiated, starting with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, David, and through to Jesus Christ.
A covenant is something God initiates. Beginning with a focus on God and the potential of partnership is a good place for churches to begin when considering being in covenant relationship with a missionary. We should ask, “Is this something God wants us to do?” We should pray about it.
Any size church can be in a covenant relationship with a missionary, whether they are large, medium or small. Larger churches of over 100 members are asked to pledge $2,500 per year; whereas a church with fewer than 100 members, only $5 per member per year.
But why form this relationship? First of all, we are given the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with a missionary and the people they serve. But even more importantly, we are strengthening our relationship with God.
The second reason for this relationship is that it is educational. As we get to know our missionary family, we also learn about the country, the culture and the language. We learn about its politics and its history. These are important elements to learn and to know when we think about making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Thirdly, it’s financial. The places where missionaries serve cannot afford to pay their salaries or support their operating expenses. We’re a connectional church; the world really is our parish.
But why should we care about missionaries? Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. Sometimes we only have to go a short distance. We have missionaries right here in the U.S. Sometimes we have to go half way around the world to take that message.
But too many of our churches don’t give to missionaries. Is it because our churches don’t care? Is it because we have not discovered the joy of giving? I think many of us are just waiting to discover that we can really make a difference in someone’s life. We can even save a life. Some of us were surprised when we learned about “Nothing But Nets,” and that our $10 gift was actually saving someone’s very life. The net that $10 purchased protected them from mosquitoes that carry malaria. We actually, in partnership with God, helped perform a real miracle.
Some churches are also reluctant to give because of the economy. They wonder how they can even consider taking on a new expense, such as supporting a missionary.
A good cure for a church in financial trouble is to be in touch with a real-life missionary or to be involved with a mission project. The passion that this brings is spiritual, but it can have a positive impact upon the overall finances in the local church. All of us want to be a part of a church that is doing something good and meaningful. Supporting a missionary is a great way to demonstrate that we care and others will want to join us in this adventure.
As the conference mission secretaries we’re available to help any church considering being in a supporting relationship with a missionary. In addition to providing information, we can help you through the process of establishing a covenant relationship. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Revs. John and Bonnie Campbell, former missionaries to Alaska and Lithuania, serve as the BWC mission secretaries.