Recently, my friends enjoyed an important holiday in the United States: July 4, Independence Day. I almost missed it this year. A friend asked if Americans living in Greece do anything special on this day. I had forgo+en. There were no fireworks, no hotdogs. One of the consequences of living away from your birth home is that days and events that were so important growing up can be lost in the day to day of living and serving in that place. The focus over 0me becomes where you are, what are doing there, and to what your being there adds value. Your focus changes. Understandably.
Being able to stay on target, follow the heart dream is a constant prayer. We hold strategy mee0ngs (of course covered in prayer), wondering how best to make life into what God is saying for our present assignment. Living in Greece and on the edge of the Middle East and North Africa, there is certainly an almost daily pressure to focus only on the immediate. With such sta0s0cs as 65% plus of youth are leaving Greece for work, or 750,000 Syrian children are s0ll not in school and 2.5 million are s0ll displaced, it is easy to lose sight of the broad picture and get distracted only into the immediate.
But the focus can’t be lost in the day to day. A holiday from previous years might be forgo+en, and the oversight forgiven. But the goal to stay on course must be maintained. To not be consumed in the immediate is hard.
The broader goal is to see people throughout the region restored to what God created them to be, renewed in the image of God. To see their abili0es and gi>s and capacity to effect change in their world unleashed. No program is enough to accomplish this. We’ve seen a sea change of ac0vity, as
churches, parachurch groups and mission teams turn their focus—almost en0re focus—to the immediate, to short term projects of “high value impact”. But what of the long term goals, the sustainable effects?
We at EME feel a call to remind our partners that God is a rela0onal God, and He s0ll sends servants to live that out. As you support full 0me workers on foreign fields, they are being enabled to live out their lives impac0ng people day to day around them. As Jesus walked roads, sat and ate, slept, He did it with people. This pa+ern is remains important for today. To go, stay, serve and impact lives through rela0onships. This is the biblical model. We communicate the Gospel in word and deed. Romans 10:14, “.. how can they call on the one they have not believed in? …And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” This is s0ll important to mission.
Part of keeping on target is to have projects. The Church must support these projects, and raise prayers all around the world for the Church to lead in crea0vity in business, the arts, science, etc., through projects. And, yes, these require finance and support from mission resourcers.
But, please be challenged with this wri0ng. Projects need people to help direct, pray for, nurture, develop and bring them to frui0on with faithfulness and excellence. To be there, to fellowship there. For this, the support of full 0me Chris0an workers on the foreign fields cannot be undervalued. It is cri0cal. Na0onal partners, yes. But the interna0onal missionary remains integral to the Mission. Stay focused, stay balanced. Let’s keep our minds on the broader picture.