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Missions Wasn't Quite What I Thought...

Updated: Jun 28

Remember when that retired couple would cross the Atlantic to go “save” the poor people in that far off place? Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad sentiment…but inevitably they had to come back home to raise money to actually live on. But what would happen while they were away? Would the work continue? Who would carry it on?

There is a different model of missions that has been happening and it is by no means new, but it just isn’t talked about in a way that the average person understands its importance. But first of all, it may be important for you, dear reader, to understand the significance of me going to Kenya. For that, a little background.

Where My Skepticism Started

Several years ago my wife and I took a trip to the Dominican Republic. This was a very intentional trip whose purpose it was to connect with our little girl from..uh…let’s just say an International Company that does ministry to children through schooling etc. It was touted that our little girl Vielka was being given Christian Schooling and that money provided went towards…this and that and the other thing. She was getting a Christian education and such.

When we arrived at the location to see Vielka, we were of course met by professionals of unnamed company. We had our own interpreter as well. As we met with her and her family, our own interpreter, a dear lady at our church at the time found out that things weren’t quite as rosy as what was represented by this company. There wasn’t as much interaction with our sponsored child and the Christian Schooling and uniform provision wasn’t that. What it amounted to was she would visit 3 or 4 times a week at an after school program provided by this company. This didn’t sit very well with me. After our visit with ur little girl we then visited the local headquarters for this company which stood in stark contrast to the very poor surroundings that we were in.

There was a lot of money going into the building and staff (not to mention air conditioning, we were freezing cold) but it seemed a poor representation of Jesus. Why? It seemed to us that there was a lot of money going into administrative affairs and less being done for the kiddos being sponsored. I can admit, that this is only my perception, but the evidence seemed clear. I had already become skeptical, and this didn’t help.

Why was I already skeptical? Well, we had provided extra money for gifts on birthdays and Christmases for goats or for supplies that the company said would be used to help the child and her family. However there was no mention of these things or even a “thank you” for the extra financial gifts that we provided through this company. This was the case for all three of the kids that we were sponsoring.

To date, we are still sponsoring a child (call me foolish…go ahead) and the couple of times we sent extra money, this remains the case, no mention of the gifts or even no mention of the personal information that we have sent as well. We might say, our dog was sick or we’ve had a lot of snow. There would be no response query like: how is your dog that was sick? Or what is it like to have a lot of snow? Or even how old are your kids? We get generic letters with no responses To the information sent.

As a result, this left me feeling very duped. The work we did with the locals was a lot of fun and our host was doing a great job working with local pastors and raising funds for a community center despite our concerns at the organization we were using to sponsor a child. We did outreach and evangelism at some local hotspots and parks but we also had to wonder, who is following up with all these people? Where are the local pastors that will disciple these people who are making professions of faith? What about helping them get baptized? If we don’t return who will smile and remind that child that they are loved and that there is a savior who died and rose again to have a relationship with them? Not to mention that it also seemed very contingent on Americans coming over to keep the work going.

Why Things Are Now Different

When I started ministry at SHBC in 2010 I met Pastor Gary. A humble man with his Masters in Wildlife Management (or something like that). He was a 4H guru, ex drug addict, turned pastor who has a heart for people and meeting them where they are. He is one of only a couple of people who I know would give you the literal shirt off of his back to someone in need.

This is important because doing ministry and missions turns from people focused, one person rising above the team to be loud and leading, to Jesus focused, helping others to discover their gifts and to gain confidence so they can lead and serve. This is PG (Pastor Gary). This is why Missions at SHBC is different. He meets throughout the year over FaceTime etc to encourage and to train local ministries that SHBC works with in a few different countries. This matters because the work isn’t contingent on a handful of Americans going and “saving the day”, it’s lead by local pastors, supported by leaders that are officially trained FOR the purpose of starting local churches in areas affected by the ministry that is ongoing whether SHBC is there or not.

Through SHBC there is training for ministry leaders and pastors and THEY, not us, are the boots on the ground doing the daily work of establishing new churches and ministries and baptisms with local peoples in villages and towns. Whether that is in Zimbabwe, Bulgaria, the Philippines, or Kenya. Gone is the hero mentality or a pastor coming in and making it about them, and instead servant leadership is modeled through humility and service. Is it always perfect, no, by no means it is not. But it is a much healthier method of reaching local peoples.

How it’s Different

We work with CBEM (Committed Believers Evangelical Ministry) to train pastors through seminars and workshops. The leader of CBEN is Frederic Masha and his family. Here’s the gist of how that happens (remember I’ve never been, but it’s been explained to me a couple of times). Missionaries (made up of locals and Americans) head into villages in the bush. Don’t picture something from the “gods must be crazy” but small huts made up of thatch and block, where up to 10 family members may live and dwell. Usually no electricity and running water, although support through Living Water of Ohio has brought clean drinking water to over 200, 000 peoples in these countries so far. Consider supporting the important work of bringing clean drinking water to some of these villages and areas. It’s such an important work and sometimes the water is located by an Evangelical Church giving the pastor many opportunities to evangelize.

What We Are Doing In July

We will travel 2 hours into the bush and invite people to a gathering that we will hold utilizing local pastors and missionaries from SHBC. At these villages people are invited to a free medical clinic where pastors and missionaries together present the Gospel to people who are willing to hear it. They aren’t forced, medical services are not contingent on them accepting Jesus or listening to a pitch.

This is important because as you may guess, this can create false converts and is manipulative. After so many people accept Jesus and become baptized, a pastor is eventually assigned to that village and may even be from that area. They are trained and supported by CBEM (the local ministry).

We will also work with people who have mental and physical disabilities and also orphans who are a part of the school that we help to support along with other local churches in Licking County. The name of the school is glory academy, and for the past few years, Spring Hills has generously provided donations for students to be able to attend. THrough this partnership we are able to provide a good education, a couple of uniforms for kids, 2 meals while they are there, and support from the church to help them to grow in their faith. While we are in Kenya, we will play games, sing songs, and share the Gospel in classrooms. Each member from the oldest to the youngest, which is Walker a 7th grader who is joining us on the trip, I will have opportunities to teach, share the gospel, and welcomed children in Jesus name.

Let’s Wrap This up

Gone are the days of coming in from another country and swooshing out and hoping that the work continues. There is intentionality and purpose to each step. This is why I was convinced that it is time again for a missions trip out of the country. This is why I am excited to go to Kenya and to be a part of the work that God is doing through CBEM and SHBC and their partnership together. This is why ministries that provided basic but important needs like clean drinking water like LIving Water of Ohio, must be supported, so that the Gospel can be heard. We know, they don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. This is just as true in Nairobi, Kenya, as it is in Granville Ohio.

Please Pray for our TEAM:

Gary, Mark, Walker, Michelle, Lizzie, Eli, Noah, Logan, Jonathan, Bekah, and the Bulgarian Missions Team that will also be joining us.

Links to mentioned ministries

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