By David Hernandez, District Representative, Great Lakes
Imagine for a moment that you saw the following in various rural communities:
Wanted: Pastor Ulysses!
This headline does not represent a Wanted Poster but a Want Ad!
Most of us have looked at want ads in the local newspaper at one time or another. We have seen the usual information: who is hiring, company name, job title, job description requirements, wages, perhaps some benefits, and where to apply.
If we were looking for employment, all the information in the ad would be important to both ourselves and the employer to determine our qualifications.
So Who In the World is Pastor Ulysses?
Ulysses was the Roman name for Odysseus, a legendary hero in Greek mythology. He is found in Homer’s epic tale “The IIliad and the Odyssey.” In the stories about him, he is well known as an eloquent speaker, ingenious, amazingly strong, and highly skilled in many areas. Ulysses was an ancient Greek superhero, although some of his abilities seem supernatural, his status as a legendary hero is derived from his ability to do so many things well. In the opening of Homer’s Odyssey, the poet gave us a hint that Ulysses had what it took to reach his formidable goal of returning to his native land of Ithaca.
The first line of Homer’s Greek text contains the word “polytropon” which means “versatile”, also translated as having “many resources.” It is this description of Ulysses that I like to describe the Village Missionary Pastor. Village Missions needs versatile people to serve as Missionary Pastor couples in the rural communities and the country churches we serve. We need versatile pastors to serve the cause of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in rural communities of the United States and Canada. Village Missionaries don’t have to be super heroes, but they need to relate to the people they have come to serve.
Most of us have heard the adage used to describe people with many but limited skills, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Village Missionaries need to be, or be able to become a “Jack of all trades, but the masters of some.” The two areas we want to see our rural missionary couples master are loving people and preaching the Word.
Why have we set the bar so high for ministry in rural communities?
The people we serve in country churches and rural communities are often articulate in the vernacular of their culture, ingenious in creativity, physically strong, versatile in skill sets and technologically savvy. For many years people in rural America felt politically marginalized but in the age of digital social media, many rural communities have found their voice in the main stream public marketplace of ideas. Whatever our political persuasions might be, the last presidential election demonstrated the influence and conviction of the people living in rural areas of North America. The influence of rural communities has always had more weight on society than credited. While the influence of rural communities has increased, the influence of the Gospel on these communities has decreased.
Reaching people in rural communities requires a pastor willing to learn a variety of jobs normally not associated with pastoral ministry. He needs to be humble enough to learn from the people he has come to serve. In an era of specialization in careers and ministry, it is a challenge to find versatile people willing to serve the versatile and resilient people in rural communities and county churches.
Pray with us for versatile missionary pastors interested in rural communities. Those who have a variety of skills, and are willing to develop new skills and interests to enhance ministry opportunities for the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17