Hands went up everywhere when I asked a Converge Heartland church congregation if they had, at any time in their life, felt like God had led them to consider missionary service. I have discovered that most believers have felt this, but have not always known what to do with it. Perhaps they had a limited understanding of what missionary work involves, felt under-qualified, or were discouraged from pursuing such and endeavor.
I have found that the universal missionary call to take the good news of Jesus Christ to every single ethnicity has often been minimized, unaddressed, or dismissed for as many reasons as one can muster.
But what if that gut-desire to engage in global missions wasn’t a mistake? What if it was not meant to be dismissed? What if God is still calling you to participate in missions? What if we Biblically understood that such a calling is to be owned and celebrated by every Christ-follower and every local church? What would that look like today? How then might your personal skills and resources be powerfully used in God’s global mission?
It was a joy to discover answers to questions like these during my recent trip to Ethiopia, of which I was a part of a 20-person team comprised of medical, business, educational, and agricultural professionals from Central Church in Sioux Falls, SD. However, this is more than a report of a mission trip; this is an invitation for you to both examine and reclaim your missionary calling.
Trust and obey God's prompting
Our team followed the lead of one South Dakota businessman/missionary, Mike Adams, who had simply followed God’s prompting to tithe off the sales of his business, Adams Thermal Dynamics. With these resources, the Adams Thermal Foundation initially determined to support regionally-based gospel initiatives, but through multiple adoption trips to Ethiopia, Mike became burdened to do more.
Responding to an unexpected request, the Adams Thermal Foundation agreed to take on two Ethiopian schools that serve the poorest of the poor. In truth, God granted them the opportunity to make a gospel-centered difference in the lives of 1,100 Ethiopian children, their families and their communities.
Soon after this ministry began, Mike went to Central Church to see if others in his church family would be interested in individually sponsoring at-risk students who were, among other things, born with HIV, orphaned, sleeping on dirt floors, starving, lacking necessary provision, or in need of medical attention. In other words, these were fantastic kids who need a consistent hand up but not an indefinite handout.
I now understand first-hand that if it were not for these Christ-centered schools, these kids, simply put, would be on the streets fighting for survival, performing unthinkable child-labor jobs, or worse. However, through the ministry of the two Adams Thermal Foundation Academies, 1,100 youth are developing into the future Christian leaders of Ethiopia. To this call, hundreds of Central Church families have responded, resulting in hundreds of child sponsorships and a large, church-wide offering. But this is only the beginning.
Engage in both 'church' and 'kingdom' mission
Sustainability of this effort is an important goal for the Adams Thermal Foundation. For this reason, our recent mission team explored opportunities and partnerships with the parents of students, local Ethiopian church leaders, local businesses, farmers, medical professionals, and educators. This was an exploratory trip aimed at identifying ministry opportunities and opening doors of service for both ministers and professionals throughout the Converge Heartland District and beyond.
We found significant opportunities for discipleship and evangelism-focused “Church Mission” through Ethiopian churches, a Bible College, and a missionary training school. We also identified sustainable opportunities for occupational-skills-oriented “Kingdom Mission” through Christ-honoring agricultural, business, educational, and community infrastructure development.
Celebrate global obedience to the great commission
It is amazing how deeply the support of global missions runs in the blood of Converge Heartland churches. However, I was both challenged and humbled to learn that the 150 Evangelical churches of just one Ethiopian state have sent out 437 trained and active church-planting missionaries to unreached and unengaged Muslim regions of Ethiopia and beyond.
As one who is seasoned in foreign missionary service and training, I have first-hand experience as to how God is using certain nations as missionary sending forces. Mission experts agree that God is powerfully using nations like India, Philippines, Ukraine and South Korea. Likewise, God is using Ethiopian Evangelical churches as a powerful missionary sending force to the unreached and unengaged people groups of Africa and the Middle East. In other words, joining God’s work in Ethiopia results in and even greater blessing to the nations. Furthermore, sponsoring the next generation of Ethiopian Christian leaders should be viewed as a meaningful part of fulfilling the Great Commission.
7 ways to act upon your call to missions
I encourage you to consider what God would have you do in response to your personal missionary call as well as your church’s missionary calling, especially in light of our District’s unique Ethiopian opportunity. Here are seven ways for you and your church to get involved.
SPONSOR A STUDENT(S) at Adams Thermal Academy in Ottoro or Hossana, Ethiopia for $34 per month. This Great Commission investment into people is likely a possibility for every household in our District and throughout Converge. Approximately 600 students are still in need of sponsorship.
MAKE YOUR SKILLSET AVAILABLE for a short-term trip to Ethiopia by filling out this brief form of interest. How great would it be to use your occupational skills for missions?
FINANCIALLY SUPPORT AN ETHIOPIAN PROJECT such as the clean water project for the schools or the ongoing meal program which typically supplies the only balanced meal that a student daily receives. These are important and quantifiable projects that have goals and finish lines.
GIVE MISSIONS A VISIBLE PLATFORM in your church by regularly inviting missionaries to preach and teach, hosting a missions conference, or doing a missions emphasis month. Our churches need and often lack the apostolic gifting and challenge that these missionary servants bring. If you want, call the District Office for some fresh ideas.
SEND MISSIONARIES by encouraging those who are considering missionary service to contact the Converge Heartland District office. We can assist both aspiring missionaries and your church in determining the most fitting next steps.
Jim Capaldo, District Executive Minister
Jim Capaldo is District Executive Minister for Converge Heartland.