I just attended a meeting where Dr. Carl Boonstra is the member of the church hosting the meeting. It was announced that Dr. Boonstra is donating his library, and all the pastors attending the meeting could take have as many of his books as they wanted. Because my husband and I are traveling in a motorhome, and he knows I love books…he instructed me that I could have one book. I went to the area, and I searched and searched for that perfect one book. I made my choice…and when I began reading it…I realized that I picked up a real jewel. The book is an old book entitled, Who Cares About the Missionary.
The following story is one of the stories that I just read. Although this is a sad missionary story…it’s an example of many churches today.
A young missionary went off to the Far East to minister. His home church supported him financially and promised to pray for him. He had kept them informed of his activities through letters and tapes, but unknown to the missionary, only the chairman of the mission’s committee ever read or listened to read his letters or listened to his tapes. This missionary had a difficult time learning the language. There was great opposition from the government and non-Christian forces in his area. Then, at only twenty-seven years of age, his wife contracted blackwater fever. She lived only a short time, leaving his with three young children.
He finished his first term of service, anticipating that day when he would return to his home church, to be accepted and comforted by those who loved and cared, those who had been interested enough to send him out. When the time finally came, he walked into the midweek service without prior announcement. He saw only strangers, and since he had arrived just on time for the service to start, he sat in one of the back pews. No one welcomed him. He smiled at the pastor, but there was no response. The prayer period was held. There was concern for the Sunday school picnic…the new building program…the women’s coming trip to a regional conference. There was no mention of missionaries, no pleading for souls, no apparent concern for the lost.
Following the service, the brokenhearted missionary stood at the back of the church. Most people did not recognize him. The few who did merely exchanged a hurried, “Hello. How are you?” As the pastor finally approached him, the missionary cried out, “Now I understand. This is the reason.” “What do you mean?” questioned the pastor.
“Those years on the field…the difficulties…the pain…the lack of results. This is the reason.” He went on to confess his supreme disappointment that he had been forgotten, but most of all that he had not been prayed for.
Perhaps the pastor understood what he meant, but there was not further time to discuss it, for he had to excuse himself to meet with the board concerning new cribs for the nursery.
How many missionaries have discovered this type of response, even in their home churches? Oh, the checks arrived every month. You see, it isn’t difficult to write a check once every four weeks. But that is the extent of their involvement.
Ask any missionary you meet, “What is your greatest need?” Almost every missionary will reply, “We need prayer partners.” Finances are necessary…equipment is important…travel expenses must be met…but without adequate prayer backing, a missionary will be a failure.