In just a few weeks, Pastor Rusty and Haley will be joining a team with iGo Global Missions to share the gospel in Madrid, Spain. For those who may be reading but don’t know, Rusty is our student pastor at Mont Belvieu’s First Baptist Church, and Haley is a high school student and member of our youth group.
I’m confident that their time in Spain will be life-changing and faith-sharpening for each of them. But I am equally confident that their missionary endeavors can sharpen the faith and change the life of our entire congregation. Here are a few reasons why:
1. They are doing real mission work.
Many people today misunderstand the biblical concept of missions. Often when we hear of mission trips, we think about building houses for the poor, digging water wells, or providing medical care. These can all be very important aspects of missions, but these activities in and of themselves do not constitute “doing missions.”
“Doing missions” requires sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who do not know him. As pastor of FBCMB, I don’t want us to be at all fuzzy on this issue. We can build houses, dig wells, and provide healthcare all day long, but if we do not accompany this service work with the articulation of the gospel then we are merely making sure that people have shelter, water, and health on their way to hell. Paul describes evangelism and missions this way to the Corinthians: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 5:5). Gospel proclamation and humble service together make effective mission work.
Rusty and Haley will be telling people about Jesus. Yes, they will serve the Muslim community of Madrid, as well, doing things like children’s day camps and such. But the most important thing they will be doing is telling people about what God has done through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our congregation is blessed that we have a brother and a sister who are obeying the Great Commission in such a bold and clear way right before our eyes.
2. We are “fellow workers” in this mission work.
The Bible makes it very clear that all Christians are to obey the Great Commission. We do this by supporting missionary endeavors prayerfully and financially and by engaging the lost around us with the gospel. Though I think every believer should make it his or her goal to have hands-on experience in missions at every level (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth), we know that not all of us can go on every trip. Rusty and Haley are going, and we are sending them.
Over the last year, we have prayed for and given financially to make Rusty and Haley’s trip overseas possible. This is right; it is biblical. The Apostle John wrote about churches supporting missionaries: “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 6-8).
We are Rusty and Haley’s church family. So by sending them out “for the sake of the name,” we become their “fellow workers for the truth.”
3. This mission work can hasten the return of our King.
Why Madrid? Some may think that Spain is an odd place for a mission trip, but it is not. Spain is not the chosen destination because it makes for a great vacation. (Rusty and Haley are not going to be going on vacation. That is no where on their schedules.) Madrid is important and strategic because of its large population of North African Muslims. By reaching these individuals with the gospel, we can indirectly touch the unreached people groups of their native countries.
The Bible teaches us that while we want all people to know Jesus, we should be particularly passionate about taking the name of Jesus to unreached people groups. Yes, there are people in Mont Belvieu and Baytown and Houston who don’t know Jesus. But what Rusty and Haley–and as “fellow workers,” our church–are doing in Madrid has additional significance. People here have access to the gospel, even if they don’t believe. Most of the Muslims in Spain have never heard the gospel, and they come from places where the gospel has never been preached.
In the convention sermon for this year’s SBC annual meeting, Danny Akin reminded us of this truth from Paul’s words in Romans 15:20: “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” Jesus was very explicit in commanding us not just to make disciples, but to make disciples of all the nations. The Bible connects the gospel reaching every single people group with our blessed hope, the return of Christ. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
By engaging in this strategic missions work, we are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, advancing the Great Commission, and hastening the return of great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
4. Our congregation will experience the joy of sending laborers to work the harvest.
Paul and Barnabas were commissioned as missionaries by the Church of Antioch in Acts 13:1-3. In Acts 14:24-28, they returned and gave a report the church. “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). Antioch became a major missionary center of the early church. When they heard about what the Lord had done through Paul and Barnabas, they were motivated to send many others.
My prayer is that this mission trip will provide fuel to give our church a white-hot, burning passion to make Jesus known to the ends of the earth. Even as we continue to support our Southern Baptist missionaries through the Cooperative Program, we also need to go ourselves. We need to embrace the unreached peoples of the world ourselves. We need to remember that the Great Commission is a task that the Lord Jesus assigned to local churches. It is our job. We must pray, give, and go.
I can’t wait for the day when the Lord raises up out of our church family individuals who feel called to be full-time vocational missionaries. Such Christians do not appear at random. They are almost always cultivated in soil rich in gospel-centered doctrine, Christ-exalting worship, and Spirit-fueled missions.
We will have some special times of prayer for Rusty and Haley in the next few weeks, but I’d ask you to begin praying now. Pray for them, for those they will meet, those who will hear the good news of Jesus. But also pray for us. Pray that our whole church takes hold of every blessing from their obedience that we can possibly grab.