Women on Mission

Training Other Missionaries to Serve in the Americas

As the field medical coordinator for all missionary personnel serving in the Americas, Jennifier Barger helps those entering the missions field in a medical capacity understand their role as they prepare to minister to people in the Americas.

A former nurse practitioner, Barger is familiar with the maladies that plague the human body. An International Mission Board missionary for nearly 2 decades, she also understands the spiritual needs of sin-sick people. Not so coincidentally, it was a series of medical issues her family experienced several years ago that most recently reminded her of her identity in Christ.

Within 2 years, Barger and her daughter both underwent surgery. Her husband, Don, suffered a mysterious illness that sent the family back to the United States for treatment. Then, in one particularly harrowing experience, her eldest child endured respiratory distress while in the middle of the jungle. There was no way to get medical treatment until the next morning. These experiences might drive some away from their beliefs, but they drove Barger further into the arms of her Savior.

Giving Hope to Survivors of Disasters

It’s been more than a decade since Henrietta Gentry first took up the plow—or in her case, a chain saw—in the missions field with Texas Baptist Men’s (TBM) disaster relief ministry. She has served the survivors of disasters—Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Rita, and a volcano eruption in Hawaii—in the hopes that those in the most desperate situations would realize God’s plan for their lives.

“We want to be able to help and give hope,” Gentry said.

She currently serves as the chaplain coordinator for TBM’s disaster relief ministry, equipping men and women to serve a missions field ripe with those seeking hope. It’s a physically demanding job, Gentry said, but one that carries the added joy of pointing others to Jesus.

“It’s giving a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name,” she said, referencing Mark 9:41. “We minister to the physical needs first. Then, once they are comfortable, the chaplain can talk about spiritual matters with them.”

Choose Ministry That Matches Your Skillset

Placing square pegs in round holes is a mistake in every scenario—including missions! A major pitfall in missions is attempting to accomplish what we’re not gifted to do, simply out of obligation or because we see others doing it. Maybe we keep doing what we’ve always done in missions even if we’re not being successful because we haven’t opened our minds to new possibilities. Missions comes in all shapes and sizes, and an important key to success is to operate from our strengths and giftedness.

Think about the strengths, spiritual gifts, interests, and talents of your missions group. What have you done well in the past? What gets your group excited? What are the vocational strengths and experiences of each group member? How have you seen God at work through the spiritual gifts of each person? Is there a special gift or talent within your group that makes the group unique?

Finding Refreshment in Prayer

In Luke 5:15–17, we see Jesus’ source of strength sandwiched between His ministry: “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” (Bold added.)

Jesus was busy about ministry. He was healing and teaching large crowds all the time. So how did He refuel? Where did His strength come from? He regularly stepped away from the demands on Him to pray, to talk with and listen to His Father.

When we are busy with our lives—work, family, friends, church, ministry—and we find ourselves exhausted from all we have to do, let’s follow Jesus’ example. Find regular time for Bible reading and prayer, spending time with God, and allowing Him to refresh you.

Whatever It Takes to Spread the Gospel

Some of you live in big cities, with the nations surrounding you on every street corner. But some of you are like me—you live in small towns and smaller cities, with neighbors who, for the most part, look, act, and think as you do. So how do we put the principles found in 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 into practice in our daily lives, doing whatever it takes to spread the gospel to all people?

I have learned to be the first to bend—the first to be flexible, the first to apologize, the first to compromise. No, that doesn’t mean I compromise on the gospel. Jesus was, is, and will always be the only way to God. His death, burial, and resurrection are the foundations of our faith, and the Word of God is true. Those things don’t change.

But when it comes to welcoming the drug addict and her rowdy children into our worship service, I need to put aside my reservations. When it comes to welcoming people of other races into our church, I need to put aside my prejudices. When it comes to helping the down and out, I need to put aside my judgments.

Reaching Others “by All Means”

We live in a world defined by boundaries. We talk of setting boundaries with people, with our jobs, and even with our churches. We want “space” and “me time.”

Quite simply, we think of ourselves a lot.

WMU’s emphasis theme for 2016–2018 encourages us to do something else—to think of reaching others with the gospel “by all means.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:22b, Paul tells us how he is willing to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some.” Rather than talking about the ways that he is excluding people, Paul encourages us by his example to include others, regardless of socioeconomic divisions.

Why is Paul willing to do this? “ I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (v. 23).

Praying for Guatemala

“We were praying over a Guatemalan town. It had a very small and weak evangelical presence,” shared Mark Fricke, an International Mission Board missionary to Guatemala for 22 years, “and was very well known for its syncretism stronghold—mixing of religion with ancestral beliefs and traditions. Their beliefs are centered on working to gain salvation and to please or honor a saint or spirit.”

Fricke and his team began asking God to work and send someone who would plant himself or herself there as His witness. They prayerwalked and volunteer teams from the United States came, working and praying in that area with them, as well.

“Sometimes we would take 3 steps forward and 2 back. But we [kept] praying faithfully, even when answers didn’t come.” They knew fighting this type of battle could be done only on their knees. And they praised God, believing that He loved those people and had a plan He was working out for their good and His glory.

The answer came.

Pushing Past the Honeymoon Stage of a Church Plant

No church bells rang at that time. But George and Janelle Lim fell in love with Glastonbury, Connecticut, years ago. Finally called to plant a church there, they moved their family of 5 in August 2015.

“Living here was surreal,” George Lim shared. “Like most missions, we hit the ground in the honeymoon stage. Yet a few months later, we were back to reality. Like most of New England, this is spiritually hard ground. Glastonbury is an affluent and educated town. People in this community have all the material things they need.

“By October, we were lonely, tired, discouraged, and without resources to accomplish what God called us to—plant a church. A friend said, ‘Let’s stop talking about how hard the ground is and start talking about how great our God is.’

“Crying out to God, we remembered our purpose: to make much of Jesus, to bring people to Jesus, not to do something cool or to be known as church planters. Furthermore we recognized that when we do too much in our strength, the natural response is to take credit. But times of complete weakness [are opportunities] to see God’s power and for Him alone to be glorified.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Steve and Jen Hagen

Jen Hagen reported that a partner, George*, in the mountains has a heart for an unengaged, unreached tribal group and the Hagens have been praying for a way to engage this group. They recently discovered that 2 men from a “great organization” have been trying to get into the area to reach this very group. The men have been denied access and George is trying to help them get permission to enter that area. “Will you pray with us for wisdom for these guys as they try to gain entrance and for favor with the officials?” Jen Hagen asked.

The Hagens have prayed for at least 7 years to find a way to help the Agta tribal people develop new sources of income to combat their extreme poverty. A few months ago, they came into contact with an American family who had just come to the mountain area to develop livelihood projects for tribal people. Through a series of circumstances, this family has decided to partner with the Hagens full time. Praise God for this answer to prayer. Pray for this family as they adjust to life in the Philippines, develop relationships with the tribal people, and discover what projects would be the most effective for the Agta people.

Free Prayer: Go and Give It

We know that prayer should be the backbone of every undertaking of the believer and the church. But can prayer also be an outreach ministry?

Absolutely! In fact, it might create an opportunity for telling people about the love, forgiveness, and salvation that Christ Jesus gives.

Generally nonbelievers welcome prayer for themselves and others within their circle of concern.

“Prayer is the key to making spiritual inroads,” said Mark Wakefield, chaplaincy strategist with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

For a prayer outreach ministry to be effective, it should be done in places where people gather, such as NASCAR races at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Wakefield said volunteers with Alabama Raceway Ministries (ARM)—an outreach of the SBOM—assist race fans and others at the speedway, engage them in conversation, pray with them, and, when the opportunity arises, tell them about Jesus.

Though ARM is geared for a raceway environment, its concept is adaptable to other situations: arts and crafts fairs, bridal shows, festivals, car shows, motorcycle rallies—the possibilities abound!

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