Football season’s here in the USA, but for all you hockey fans, I know you are excited to see how your team’s equipment manager is honing his skate sharpening skills for the upcoming season.
Or are you anticipating following the action of the front office staff as they book planes, buses and hotels for away games?
Maybe you’re eagerly searching the sports news to find out what changes the laundry team has made to keep those jerseys bright and shiny.
Wait! You’re not?
I’m not surprised. If this were a multiple-choice test administered to sports fans, the most popular answer would be “None of the above.”
Fans go to see sports games for the action. But to see the equipment manager? No.
Missions is the same way. We celebrate the work of “front-line” missionaries. But what about the folks who labour behind the scenes to make it all happen?
Would you like to read a digit-by-digit account of accounting? Interested in an article on complying with HR or privacy regulations in an international nonprofit organization? How about a bright little feature on the cost-saving motion-sensitive lighting system in our Ethnos home office?
Um, no, thank you.
“So what?” you may ask. “Is that really a problem?”
On the one hand, no. The value of missions is not measured in the ledgers of missions organizations but in the involvement of God’s people here and in lives changed there.
But on the other hand, yes.
It’s a problem when we value missionaries who serve in support and missionaries who serve in North America less than those whom people like to call “front-line” missionaries. As a missionary who serves in a support role in the USA, I have seen that happen.
That’s why it’s more difficult to find support — and keep it — in roles like this one. It’s why people who leave church planting ministries to fill vital support roles or leave the foreign field to come to North America and fill strategic international roles usually see their support plummet.
This leads to the loss of experienced missionaries in vital and strategic roles. Therefore, either those roles go unfilled and front-line missionaries lose some of the help they need, or we have to ask other front-line missionaries to fill vital support roles … and the cycle repeats.
But you can help too. As you grow in the Lord and He prompts you to increase your generosity, would you consider supporting a missionary who serves in support or even in a Canadian support role? Would you encourage others to do so?
After all, if you truly want to support “front-line” missionaries, you ought to help ensure they have the support team they need.