WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA) – Discussing about the behind-the-scenes missionaries who, although they are far from the mission field, are vital to make ministry possible in Asia.
The morning sun shines over the Mumbai slums. It is the beginning of a new day, and GFA-supported pastor Marty reaches into his bag and pulls out some literature. He scans the dirty faces of slum dwellers and realizes today might be the day they could understand how completely they are loved by God. Across the globe, as the sun shines on the small town of Wills Point, Texas, Jonathan stares at his computer in front of him.
He glances over at the pictures on his office wall and remembers the masses around the world who are waiting to know they are loved. Both men have completely different tasks and roles, but they understand something profound—they couldn’t do their job without each other.
Living a Fairly ‘Normal’ Christian Life
When the eldest of their four daughters was 4 years old, they welcomed GFA-supported Bridge of Hope children and missionaries into their lives through prayer and sponsorship. Jonathan and Erica wanted their children to grow up understanding the needs of others.
“They were familiar with the idea,” Jonathan says, “that there are people outside of [their] own little world who have a totally different set of challenges, and people who don’t know about Christ.”
This worldview found its way into their family’s everyday life and holidays, shaping rich family traditions. When the Christmas season came around each year, their daughters would pour over the pages of GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog, flipping through the pages filled with pictures of chickens, goats, Bibles and blankets. Their house stirred with excitement as each bright-eyed girl got to choose an item to bless a person or family in Asia.
A Change in the Norm
As the Lord continued to press missions on Jonathan’s heart, a revelation struck him: Why not serve in the place where they had already been investing for the past nine years?
After raising monthly support for their livelihood, Jonathan and his family packed up their home and moved to Texas to join GFA’s staff as behind-the-scenes missionaries. They were ready to serve the Lord together once again and in an even greater capacity.
A Beautiful Link Between Two Worlds
With passion and excitement, Jonathan started serving in the IT department at the GFA office in Wills Point, Texas. Through his work, he was able to equip his fellow behind-the-scenes missionaries with the computer systems they needed to accomplish their jobs in helping missionaries in Asia, like Pastor Marty.
As Jonathan helped equip the Texas office with the systems needed to communicate with donors and sponsors, Pastor Marty and many other GFA-supported workers talked with broken families about the love of Jesus. With Jonathan and the other behind-the-scenes missionaries doing their part in their work, Pastor Marty and fellow ministry workers could more effectively do their part.
Much the Same, yet So Different
Although Jonathan worked with people and computers as he had in his secular job, the differences of working in a ministry impacted his walk with the Lord. Whereas before he never thought to pray for a broken computer server or start a meeting in prayer, he now found himself doing these very things.
Once, when Jonathan had broken the entire office’s email system, it disabled the behind-the-scenes missionaries for several hours. To his amazement, Jonathan didn’t receive the same kind of treatment he would have experienced in the business world, with his bosses telling him how much money and time he was wasting. Instead, people stopped by his office to encourage and reassure him that they were praying for him. When Jonathan finally got the system working again, a slew of emails filled his inbox. They were from folks around the office thanking him for all his hard work on getting the problem fixed.
It was this kind of grace that Jonathan had never experienced before, and it occurred to him that the GFA office had a completely different atmosphere. Instead of pressures to do everything correctly the first time, there was love and grace shown by his coworkers. Instead of stress, there was peace as problems were brought to the Lord in prayer.
“I realized I am in a different world here,” Jonathan says.
“Everything matters so much more, but mistakes are handled with so much more grace. And both are tied to the heart and the attitude behind it.”
Serving Together in Joy and Hardship
But serving the Lord is not always simple or pleasant, and ministry is no easy journey. Just as Jesus warned His disciples about the trials and troubles that would come their way if they followed Him, Jonathan and his family have experienced this reality as they have labored with GFA. National workers like Marty have experienced trials and troubles, too. Although persecution may look different in Asia, brothers and sisters around the world face opposition together, knowing that serving the Lord does not come without a heavy price at times.
“It had never occurred to me,” Jonathan reflects,
“that when you give your life at a ministry, you are not just doing the glorious and admirable thing of becoming a missionary, and everyone is going to applaud you. You are joining yourself to a ministry that will, at some point, be the target of criticism, and when it is, you also will be the target of criticism. … That was both the hardest thing for me to swallow and the source of most growth for me. … I had to learn, it’s more about obeying God and trusting Him to bring fruit out of it than it is the applause of people.”
The Eternal Purpose
With an understanding of their calling and a commitment to the Lord, Jonathan, Erica and their family stand together as one with Pastor Marty and other missionaries around the world, serving others for the sake of Christ.
“It’s more of a lifestyle and less of a job,” Jonathan says.
Even when they feel tired, weak and unworthy or when criticism comes their way, Jonathan and Erica remain faithful to where God has led them.
“We are here because we are about the business of allowing people who have never heard the hope of Christ to hear of Christ,” Jonathan states.
“We are also here specifically because this is the place that God connected us to 13 years ago and kept us connected to and specifically led us to. So it’s both the eternal purpose and the specific circumstances working together. But it’s not a matter of preference, or we wouldn’t last.”
When you link your life with behind-the-scenes missionaries, you get the opportunity to stay more connected with the Lord’s work in Asia. Someday in heaven, we all will worship the Lamb of God together, and we will see fully how Christ has connected our lives with our brothers and sisters around the world!
Source: Gospel for Asia Features, ‘More of a Lifestyle, Less of a Job’
Learn more about the Mission Support Team – the behind-the-scenes missionaries who serve in Gospel for Asia’s administrative offices. Although they serve in offices far from the physical mission field of Asia, their role is vital to the ministry.
Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.