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Going, Giving, Praying, Promoting, Sending: How We Can All Support Missions

By Hans Shenk – From the February 2016 Beacon

It was a small card—white, grey and green—slipped into the fold of the programs for the two services RMM planned at CMC Annual Conference 2015. It was a detail in a busy weekend. It asked attendees if they were interested in receiving RMM’s monthly newsletter, the Mosaic, or in supporting RMM in any of five categories. The five categories were Going, Giving, Praying, Promoting, and Sending.

We didn’t get any of them back. We thought about it, decided it must not have been effective, and moved on. But then, in a department meeting, we were struck by the five categories on the card, and how many people within CMC have already been supporting RMM in the ways outlined on the card, and how grateful we are to have such partners.

We spoke to some of those partners, and have collected several of their stories here. We hope they serve as an inspiration and a reminder of what God can do, and does do, through his people.

Going – Alaina

Alaina’s story has previously been featured in RMM publications, but it bears repeating. Two months before her departure for North Africa, Alaina’s plans for the next year were to work and save money. She hoped to find a short-term ministry opportunity in 2016, after paying down college debt and saving for the future.

Two months before their departure for North Africa, RMM workers Raleigh and Opal* had seemingly firm plans for a childcare worker to accompany them and look after their two young children in the hectic first months of cultural adjustments and language study. And then, disastrously close to the date of their departure, their firm plans fell through.

Raleigh and Opal and RMM were left scrambling. RMM sent bulletin announcements to churches, and added a slide to the CMC Annual Conference PowerPoint presentation highlighting the need.

The slide was never used; before Conference, two young women had stepped forward and expressed interest in going. Raleigh and Opal met with both, and after a short period of deliberation, invited Alaina to accompany them as a childcare assistant.

With less than a month remaining before her departure, Alaina’s appointment as an RMM worker, fundraising, and preparations were a whirlwind. Halfway through the month, a member of the RMM community who had been instrumental in Alaina’s preparations was severely injured in a car accident. This left details of Alaina’s preparation, logistics of her travel and life in North Africa in uncertainty as RMM employees worked to take on extra responsibilities while dealing with the emotional impact of the accident.

Nevertheless, Alaina remained steady, smiled, and prepared to go. Even on the day of her departure, Alaina was almost left stranded at the airport by last minute logistical problems. Still, she stayed the course, made the necessary changes to her plans, and made it to North Africa only a little late.

A little over a month into her time in North Africa, Alaina wrote in a newsletter update to her supporters, “Life here has been good. Some days are hard and I miss home and family a lot, but I am constantly reminded that I am where God needs me to be and in his plan.”

We thank God for the way he worked in Alaina’s heart and in her circumstances to bless Raleigh and Opal’s family, the people Alaina has met and ministered to in North Africa, and to Alaina herself, during this time.

Raleigh and Opal are currently looking for someone to take over childcare duties after Alaina’s term ends in May 2016. If you’re interested in joining Raleigh and Opal, or if you think you might like to join the work overseas, email info@rmmoffice.org.

Giving – Ride for Missions, Rosedale Mission Cruisers, Ride for Missions Florida

“When we limit our gifts to our imagination, we are limiting what God wants to do with the gifts he has given to us….You have no idea what God can do with what you have been given until you take a first little step.”Through the years, RMM has been the beneficiary of the priority that CMC places on missions, and of the generosity of people within CMC who are passionate about partnering with RMM to spread the gospel, and have given gifts of time and money.

In addition to God’s blessing of provision through traditional channels, he has also blessed RMM through exceptionally creative forms of giving, most prominently the annual Ride for Missions.

Ride for Missions was born unobtrusively at CMC’s Annual Conference in 2005, when Merlin Miller decided he wanted to ride his bike from his home town, Middlebury, Indiana to Rosedale, Ohio for Conference the following summer. His father suggested inviting others to join in and making it a fundraiser. During a break in sessions, they spoke to RMM and the idea began to take shape. The first year of the ride was so successful that it was decided to make it an annual event.

For the second ride, Merlin invited Wayne Yoder of West Jefferson, Ohio, to organize one of two rides going to Goshen, Indiana. Wayne has been involved in organizing the ride ever since and now serves as ride coordinator, and Merlin has usually taken on the role of ride pastor. Wayne spends between 200 and 300 hours throughout the year working on details for the ride. When we asked him what motivates him to keep coordinating the ride, Wayne said, “Seeing how God works in the lives of the riders, those we meet along the way, and the donors. God takes my feeble plans and turns them into something useful for his kingdom.”

The ride has grown tremendously; from 18 riders the first year to 97 riders in 2015. New riders, donors, and corporate sponsors join in every year—many of them with no previous association with RMM or CMC. It also has created a subculture within CMC; Merlin told us, “RFM is like a family reunion (that you actually want to attend). RFM is a family that keeps adding new members every year. Riding and experiencing the same thrills and suffering together for three to five days bonds us together very quickly. I have many very good friends that I wouldn't have if it were not for RFM, and I look forward with great anticipation to seeing old friends and making new friends every year.”

Ride for Missions has also inspired a new generation of creative fundraisers. Annual Conference 2015 saw the second annual Rosedale Missions Cruisers motorcycle ride fundraiser, and Ride for Missions Florida, the first regionally-organized Ride for Missions is taking place this month. These other projects may have been partially inspired by the success of Ride for Missions, but like the first ride, they began as simple ideas.

For anyone who might be where Merlin was in 2005, starting with just an idea, Wayne has this advice: “If God lays an idea on your heart in the way that he did Merlin’s, do it. The important thing is to start on the project; the details can be worked out later. RFM has changed (hopefully for the better) each year as we learn new and better ways to operate it.”

Merlin adds: “When we limit our gifts to our imagination, we are limiting what God wants to do with the gifts he has given to us….You have no idea what God can do with what you have been given until you take a first little step.”

For more information on Ride for Missions visit www.rfm.rmmweb.org or for Rosedale Mission Cruisers, visit www.rmc.rmmweb.org.

Praying – Prayer Chapters, Heidi Burns

“I have tried those an-hour-a day prayer challenges, but they always leave me frustrated. Prayer has more become just a part of my day. When a person comes to mind, I try to pray for them..."Through the years, and across the United States, and the world, RMM has been blessed by generations of prayer warriors seeking God’s favor on RMM’s behalf.

One primary way that people support RMM in prayer is through membership in a prayer chapter. Prayer chapters are groups that meet once a month, watch a DVD (produced by RMM) about the prayer focus for the month, read RMM’s prayer-requests newsletter the RMM Intercessor, and spend time in prayer. Many members of prayer chapters have been supporting RMM in prayer for years.

Many of RMM’s prayer warriors are retirees and seniors, but young people have also become involved in prayer support for RMM, as well. When asked about a younger person who lives a life of prayer, RMM Prayer Coordinator Mim Musser, and SEND Ministries Assistant Director Courtney Shenk, both mentioned Heidi Burns. Heidi works as a custodial assistant at Rosedale Bible College, and has served as a Summer Urban Volunteer with SEND Ministries, the short-term missions department of RMM, and offers continual support for RMM through her prayers.

When asked what motivates her to pray for missions, Heidi said, “As far as missions, my key motivating passage is Matthew 9:37-38: ‘Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” I often feel overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world and feel like adopting the ‘I can't do anything about it’ attitude, but this verse says that God wants to do something, and he is waiting on us to pray.”

We may know that prayer is vital and effects real change, and yet, for many Christians, dedicated, disciplined prayer is one of the most difficult spiritual disciplines to develop. We asked Heidi how she prays and how she maintains a lifestyle of prayer. She said, “I really don't have a method for prayer. I have tried those an-hour-a day prayer challenges, but they always leave me frustrated. Prayer has more become just a part of my day. When a person comes to mind, I try to pray for them, but often God has to repeat a name a dozen times until I realize it’s a call for me to pray. Sometimes I read a news article that immediately calls me to pray.”

Heidi also offered encouraging words from her own experience, to someone struggling to develop a vibrant prayer life, especially prayer supporting missions: “Just start by thanking him for the people he placed around you. Then keep your ears open. When you hear something that they are struggling with, just say, ‘God, help them.’ He's not looking for a lot of words. He knows. And then, when you start praying for those who aren't around you, like those making disciples overseas, you can do the same thing. You might hear what they need in a prayer update, or it might just be that their name goes through your mind. Don't take those things lightly. They’re calls to prayer. You don't have to say much, but you never know right at that moment how much they need prayer. If you need details, God will give them to you, but often just saying, "God help them," is enough. He knows exactly what that help should look like.”

To sign up for the RMM Intercessor, find a prayer chapter near you, or receive the annual pictorial prayer directory, email info@rmmoffice.org.

Promoting – Levi Miller, Andrew Sauder

“Too many people have the strengths and skills that would make them a tremendous asset to a missions team, but no one comes alongside them to encourage and affirm those qualities...”Another important part of supporting missions is to exhort others to support or go abroad as field workers. Some promoters are gifted at noticing people in the church who would flourish in cross-cultural work, encouraging them to go, and rallying support for them after they leave. Others promote the work of missions in general, and coordinate support for the agencies and organizations that do the work.

Levi Miller has spent many years investing in and supporting RMM in a variety of ways, including serving as RMM Treasurer from 1976 to 2000. His motivation for promoting missions is simple: “I'm motivated by the Great Commission. Also by the example and testimonies of many of our mission personnel over the years.”

For Levi, promoting missions is not only about talking, but also about lifestyle. He says, “I think we often lead by example rather than by what we say. Thus, people who have been involved in ministry and volunteerism have been most effective in speaking to my life.”

For those who can, he also suggests, “Another way of providing encouragement is to provide financial incentives to youth. Instead of giving gifts to each other, which we really don't need, why not make such monies available for the training of youth for missions? Our family chose to set up a scholarship fund at RBC for students who have an interest in long term missions. The family decided rather than giving us gifts, [the money] would be placed in a scholarship fund at RBC.”

RBC Bridge Director Andrew Sauder represents a new generation of mission promoter. Like Levi, Andrew has spent much of his adult life promoting and supporting RMM in various ways. He says, “I’m most motivated to talk about mission work because of my own conviction that Jesus is the best and how he teaches us to live is the best; this world greatly needs the peace of Jesus to reign in the hearts and minds of everyday people. So, if this has had a positive, life-changing effect on my life, it seems reasonable to desire this for others. Additionally, I think it is a matter of seeing the people in the CMC churches live up to their potential. Too many people have the strengths and skills that would make them a tremendous asset to a missions team, but no one comes alongside them to encourage and affirm those qualities for the use in cross-cultural church planting. So, I’m motivated to talk about mission work with these kinds of people because I think it will help them live up to their full potential and calling.”

For the person who doesn’t feel like they have the skills to go abroad, or to find and encourage others to go, Andrew had this encouragement: “Those people should collect prayer cards for a few missionaries that they respect or who used to attended their church and pray for them consistently; prayer is not a special calling. If these people are rich, they should probably start funding a missionary or two. There are many ways to support missions; people should get involved in ways that they are gifted in and have passion for.”

“Also, not having the gifts to go or to find potential workers is not a forgone conclusion. Those skills can be developed. Try taking the missions training class Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Inform yourself about the needs of the unreached people groups still left in the world; this will help you identify people with the gifts and skills needed to address those needs.”

To find out more about Perspectives go to www.perspectives.org or email info@rmmoffice.org.

Sending – London Christian Fellowship

“...that they can join us in our hope and excitement over small signs of Gods work—is a huge encouragement. We are working together toward the same goals..."When we asked our workers and staff about people who exemplified support for missions in these ways, Tom, the Regional Director for Asia sent us this email:

“During the two years that we lived in the States, we had the privilege of reconnecting with our home church in London, Ohio. A couple of months ago we returned to Bangkok, and I’m thankful for the ways in which they have intentionally sent and encouraged us. Our primary point of connection with the congregation now is through our support team—a group of seven individuals who have volunteered to serve as a special link between the church and us.

Recently I sent them a short email reporting on an encouraging Bible study that we had with one of our old friends here. While talking with her, we learned that she has been sharing from the Bible with a friend of hers. Now that friend wants to start telling her family as well. In the grand scheme of things this is just a small development—and we have no idea if it will bear fruit. But we were excited about it and wanted our support team to join us in giving thanks. A few days later the young man who’s serving as prayer coordinator for our support team wrote back: “I have read this letter over and over again, and I am really happy to see God’s vision of discipleship unfolding, ‘disciple a few people who lead others to faith and repeat that process.’ (Seriously, every time I read this I just smile.)” He then went on to describe the challenges and opportunities he’s experiencing in sharing his faith.

That email made my day. To know that our support team understands what we’re doing—and that they can join us in our hope and excitement over small signs of Gods work—is a huge encouragement. We are working together toward the same goals, and I hope that I can be as faithful in praying for his friends as he is for mine!”

If you know someone who is working in mission overseas, or is thinking of going, consider asking to join their support team.