Does God have more for Village Missions to do? Is serving with Village Missions or giving to Village Missions worthwhile in light of the many opportunities for service and giving that exist in today’s world? What possible reasons are there to continue the incredibly and increasingly difficult struggle of keeping country churches alive?
Here are two more reasons why Village Missions should continue despite its current adversity.
Reason Six: It is important for Village Missions to continue because our approach to ministry is Biblical.
Sixty years ago, our founder, Rev. Walter Duff, Jr., described what he wanted missionaries to do in a succinct phrase: “Preach the Word and love the people.” This phrase still captures our ministry today and is resoundingly Biblical.
Paul reflects on his ministry with the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13. Called by God, they “had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition” (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Several verses in this passage speak to the importance of the proclamation of the Gospel message (vss. 2-5, 9, 11, 13). Paul “preached the Word” because he knew it to be (in contrast to the relativistic emergents of today) “. . . what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). We believe that God transforms people as His Holy Spirit applies the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
Yet Paul knew that his life had to be united with his message and that his love for the Thessalonians would and did give credibility to his message. Paul’s love extended much beyond mere sentimentality but showed itself in a life devoted to ministering to them. Rugged, doctrinally correct, intellectually astute Paul loved them “as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Paul says that he was willing to “to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Paul’s “loving the people” showed itself in other ways as well. He worked incredibly hard, “working night and day” (1 Thessalonians 2:9) to bring them the Gospel. He lived a life of complete integrity before them, not wishing to harm anyone by providing a poor example of following Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:10). He loved them enough to not wish to build his own following, or to enrich himself but rather to exhort them constantly to “. . . walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12, see also 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6).
So, for sixty years we have looked for missionary pastors, godly shepherds who would truly love people. We have looked for men and women who wish to be involved in the lives of the people and the communities they serve. Finding the balance in the time required to both effectively preach and love people will always be a challenge but our approach to ministry comes right out of the Bible.
Reason Seven: It is important for Village Missions to continue because of the quality of people who serve with us.
As a Village Missionary, I only knew the missionaries serving in my district. Since becoming director, I have had the privilege of meeting all our Village Missionaries that serve in the United States and Canada, our office staff, and several retired Village Missionaries. The quality of the men and women who serve or have served with Village Missions continually impresses me and I thank God for the privilege of serving such a quality group of people. They are choice servants of God.
Other people notice this as well. At one of our annual staff conferences in Estes Park, CO, we share the conference facilities with several groups. One such group was a gathering of internists. Our Navajo consultant, Nelson Betoney, befriended one of the couples, an internist from Illinois. They attended one of our evening sessions and we met. Later Susan e-mailed me, “We were blessed to share the dining hall with your group and to hear the praises of God so naturally shared around a dinner table. Hopefully other physicians’ families were attentive to your witness for Christ!”
I realize that Village Missions is not the only organization that has quality people. Countless missionaries, Christian workers, and pastors serve the Lord faithfully and well. We tend to forget this when we are exposed to the Christian celebrity who seems to be more interested in building his own empire than in building the Kingdom of God. I am just always personally struck by the quality of the missionaries who serve with us.
This stands to reason. God has called our Village Missionaries to serve in unremembered, out-of-the way places where little opportunity for reward or recognition exists. They are willing to go to often isolated and tough places. Dr. John Koessler, head of the pastoral department at Moody Bible Institute and co-author with Ron Klassen of No Little Places, once referred to Village Missionaries as the “Green Berets” of rural ministry. Not all our missionaries serve in isolated or small places but most once did and all were willing to do so.
Remarkable results have occurred over the sixty years that Village Missions has served the Lord. I can’t help but believe that God has gathered this small band of faithful men and women to continue to do remarkable and unexpected exploits in the spiritually darkening countries of the United States and Canada.
Lord willing, in the next blog or so, I’ll finish up with the final three reasons.