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A Church on a Mission

A Church on a Mission

For over a generation, Christar workers Ronald and Kay* have been blessed by the support of a large church in the Midwest. When this couple was first raising funds to begin long-term ministry over 35 years ago, this church became their largest supporter, and its generous monthly commitment was the final key in opening the door for them to move to their country of service.

This church didn’t provide merely financial resources. Over the years, a missions pastor from the fellowship visited Ronald and Kay on the field several times, providing much-appreciated support. “[He] came to us with an understanding of field service,” Ronald and Kay recalled. “He was very pastoral and encouraged us in the transitions we faced.”

Celeste, who has served as the church’s Mercy & Missions Team Leader for nine years, has also played a role in the couple’s ministry, meeting with them during every home assignment. More recently, when Ronald was banned from their country of service, it was Celeste who connected him and Kay with a group reaching out to Muslims, which is now part of their current ministry in the States.

But Ronald and Kay are far from the only cross-cultural servants that the church stands behind. They’re just two workers among the 49 individuals, couples and families sent out to minister by this fellowship, which was attended by about 4,000 people before COVID-19. As Celeste said, “We can’t all go, but that can’t stop us from sending!”

While the church doesn’t usually actively recruit people to be cross-cultural workers, such work is deep within the church’s DNA, going all the way back to its founding 92 years ago by a radio Bible teacher. The church values the impact that these workers have on its congregation, as personal connections with workers motivate church members to become world Christians, a strong focus and desire of the church leadership. “There’s nothing like having somebody that’s in your small group or somebody that’s in your circle of friends, or one of your Sunday school teachers actually going to the field,” Celeste explained.

To help the congregation have that world Christian mentality, the church leadership has also hosted a Perspectives class in the past and hoped to do so again last year, but with COVID-19, that was not feasible. Celeste has also taught offered a six-week “Perspectives light” class called Journey to the Nations, which about 15 people attended. Additionally, in a typical year, the church sends its members on eight to 15 short-term trips.

Celeste has identified a hierarchy of missions commitment, and it’s her goal to help people make their way up from clueless to aware to educated to equipped and finally to committed. The greatest challenge, she has found, is getting people up from the baseline to the first stage of awareness.

The church where Celeste serves requires cross-cultural workers to be part of an agency in recognition of the need to care for these workers on the field and hold them accountable. One team of church staff cannot do that with 50 family units, so the church relies on Christar and the 27 other agencies they partner with to fill this valuable and important role of giving day-to-day support through field teams on the ground with these workers. And, they know that even a large congregation like theirs does not have the infrastructure to process financial support for many workers—another benefit of partnering closely with an agency.

Likewise, Christar could not accomplish its mission of sending workers to least-reached people around the world without the partnership of like-minded churches like this one! Our Church Partnership Team works hard to build relationships with the leaders of the many different churches’ missions departments which send out the workers we equip for service.

Art, one of Christar’s Church Partnership representatives, shares that Christar is seeking to partner with churches like this one that share a similar doctrinal understanding, extend grace while being communicative and realize that it normally takes several sending churches to form one team of workers on the field.

Art has been familiar with Ronald and Kay’s supporting church for many years, and even attended it during his college days. Now, as he interacts with fellowships in the Midwest, Art works with Celeste and staff from about 45 other churches to help equip them to send out some of their members as workers.

“Connecting with churches that have the whole vision of reaching the least-reached as a high priority is very important to us,” Art said. “Even if a church can’t send or give, we’d like to see them think and pray strategically about the least-reached around the world. Ideally, we want to encourage churches we partner with to be willing to expend all kinds of resources—people, money, time and prayer.”

Of the 28 agencies with which her church partners, Celeste labeled Christar as entirely unique, citing the invitation she has received in the previous two years into the board process as a moral owner—one whom the Christar Board of Directors seeks out for input and feedback related to areas of interest the board is studying. “There is no other agency that calls me up and says, ‘We value your opinion,’” Celeste added.

She has also appreciated both of the roundtables with the Church Partnership representatives. At the most recent Christar Church Partnership Summit last October, Celeste found it encouraging to remember that other church’s missions leaders face similar challenges.

Together, Christar and the many churches with which it partners are blessed to be part of the bigger story of redemption that God is bringing about in least-reached communities. Celeste summed it up as she shared one of the biggest lessons she has learned during her time of serving cross-cultural workers: “None of this is our work, it’s God’s work.”

Participate by Praying:

  • Praise God for churches that are eager and willing to send their best into cross-cultural service!
  • Pray for the Church Partnership representatives as they connect with churches on a regular basis.
  • Ask God to send Christar three more representatives for this department, as one new one is needed and two of the current reps are planning to retire this year.

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