Tomorrow morning (6/1/19), 28 people from the North Roanoke family of faith will set out for Carolina, Puerto Rico. Our mission is to support Metro Bible Church in reaching their community. We will support them in delivering VBS in a school, teaching sports, encouraging the pastor and church leadership, and good, old-fashioned door-to-door as we pray and distribute literature about the church in the city.
There are several key reasons we have selected this mission as worthy of the investment of our family of faith.
-We have been commissioned by King Jesus to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18–20; Acts 1:8).
-Puerto Rico is in great need of healthy local churches.
-The North American Mission Board has adopted the greater metro area of San Juan as a “Send City.” This means Carolina and Metro Bible Churchhave a pastor who is supported, in part, through our offerings each week. In other words, the mission board has examined the pastor we are supporting and has confidence in his work. Now, we will be adding some manpower to their efforts to reach Carolina for Christ!
-Another key reason is that planting healthy churches where few (or none) exist is THE biblical strategy for reaching peoples from all nations. Service projects are good. Disaster relief is good. Crusades are good, but the long-term work of making disciples requires thriving, Christ-exalting, self-denying local churches. God has given us an opportunity to be a part of His harvest among the people of Puerto Rico by helping a church that is dedicated to declaring the glory of Christ in Carolina and who, herself, is committed to starting new churches one day!
As we leave for Puerto Rico, I want to share with you specifically how you can support the team this week.
1. Do not miss church this Sunday! Pastor Darryl (our former pastor of 29 years) will be back preaching a special message. I know he will be encouraged to see you, and his message looks amazing. Also, as you are gathering for Sunday School and worship, the team in Puerto Rico will be getting up and going on limited rest. I am asking for you to gather for a special time of prayer in each class to ask God to protect the team and use us for His glory.
2. Give generously. This is the first year we have planned for at least one, church-wide mission trip funded through the budget rather than special fundraising efforts. When you give, you are supporting the trip to Puerto Rico and many other things — helping families at Burlington Elementary with overdue lunch accounts, supporting church planters in North America and around the world, and funding the ongoing work and ministries of North Roanoke. The best way to financially support the overall mission effort this week is to generously support the budget on this and every Sunday. If you cannot be there Sunday, you may still take part in starting the month off well at nrbc.org/give.
3. Get ready! While we are taking more people than initially anticipated on this trip, we will still take additional trips to support the work of church planting and church strengthening in the months and years to come. Many have shared you want to go on a future trip. Begin praying now, and wait for what God will do next.
4. Pray. Pray for safe travel. Pray for no injuries or sickness. Pray for our translators. Pray that the church would have an opportunity to minister to more people and see more people trust Christ not only while we are there but for years to come because of this trip. Pray that we would be filled with the Spirit, selfless, and always pointing people to Christ our Savior and King.
5. Get ready #2! What inevitably happens after a missions trip, is that someone will ask, “Why don’t we do that here?” The answer is that we do have some great opportunities coming up to serve our community with WinShape and VBS. And, in the last year, we have also done prayer walking and distributed door hangers in a nearby neighborhood. However, we want to do more. Pastor Job has begun to think about a possible week of missions where we can take time off as we would for an international trip and serve together right here in the Roanoke Valley — possibly even staying at the church together for those intensive times of growth together for the glory of Christ. Stay tuned!
As your pastor, I want to thank you for allowing us to serve by being sent out. There is something so special about being on mission together that it defies explanation. I shared with one sweet sister that these trips provide times of “intense discipleship.” Most of the leadership team will be serving on the ground together, and we will have great opportunities to get to know students, adults, couples and families in deeper ways. Questions and challenges will arise that otherwise would not. We will have an entire week together for the sake of the Name of Jesus! Pray for God to work in us even as He works through us in Puerto Rico, and thank you for allowing us to #reachtheworld in Jesus’ Name!
Cannot wait to see you again next week!
For Christ and the gospel,
"After spending four days on a vision tour in Puerto Rico alongside of Pastor Job and three pastors from Cave Spring Baptist, I woke up this morning with some reflections rapidly running through my mind. I have tried to capture most of them here.
1. When you go somewhere prayerfully asking God to open your eyes to His work and how He wants you to be involved, He will answer. We did not go to Puerto Rico with pre-determined answers, but it is fair to say we were leaning in a direction, and now God seems to be clearly leading us in a different direction.
2. Getting out of your context gives you fresh eyes on your context. Both Job and I found ourselves making observations about the Roanoke Valley and church life in the Roanoke Valley that had not really occurred to us (at least as profoundly) when we were sitting right here in the Roanoke Valley.
3. As an example of observation #2: there is much that we do every week that is beneficial but not essential to church life. We do not have to have, for example: bulletins, padded chairs, pipes big enough to flush toilet tissue (that’s right!...TP goes in a wastebasket in PR), offering plates, air conditioners, instruments, amplifiers, good signage, PowerPoint, good graphic design, and a host of other very good things to be Christ’s church. Many of these good things can get in the way of the best things — reading the Word, hearing the Word, praying, singing the gospel and its implications to God and one another, confessing our sins to one another, sharing the gospel, developing leaders, opening our homes to one another, and etc. — if we allow them.
4. What we saw in the pastors planting churches in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico were men focused on getting the essentials right — putting in place a system to train leaders to train leaders and turn the church into a disciple-making engine fueled by the Holy Spirit and obedience to God's Word. This does not mean they do not also pay attention to beneficial things. For example, their church plants have more modern-looking/functioning websites than we do. However, the website is simply a door into a community where people find life in Christ through the ministry and hospitality of His body doing the essentials that Christ commanded. What is beneficial supports the essential. Churches stall when the essential serves the beneficial.
5. Christians cannot afford to become complacent or dwell on the past when they are planting a church because the church will die before things become sustainable. In church plants, there is a fresh vitality, flexibility, entrepreneurial spirit, and urgency to train new pastors and lay-leaders that should really characterize every church. We seldom become more like Christ or participate in advancing the Kingdom through what is comfortable or routine. This is not, of course, an argument for doing away with the routines the Bible has given to the church. It may mean, however, exploring new ways to do those routines and make them more effective. For example, what if Christian hospitality and Bible study were paired together rather than always meeting at a central building? When planting a new church, this approach has proven very effective (and Biblical!...”house-to-house") in helping the church engage lost neighbors and friends. It is very difficult to make disciples if we are not reaching lost people who need to be converted, baptized, and taught!
6. The Spirit makes men fearless when they know they are heeding God’s call and walking in obedience. We visited one man, age 32, planting a church about 30 minutes outside of the capital city of San Juan. His family has been through all sorts of turmoil this year - sickness, death, surgeries, mysterious infection and hospitalization, broken-down cars, and a school closing bringing even more changes into his young daughter’s life. This young man may become a planter we work with in Puerto Rico. When I asked him what he’s afraid of, he said, “The only thing I fear is that He would not find me faithful. I want to give Him my all.” In other words, he fears God and God alone. He is doing everything He can to share Christ and the gospel with his beloved Puerto Ricans. How exciting to know we are already part of helping him each week through the Cooperative Program! How much more exciting that we may be able to help him (or someone like him...we met another man in a very similar situation in a city near San Juan) to reach Puerto Rico for Jesus.
7. There are many people who use religious language who are far from God. Many Puerto Ricans say “God bless you,” but relatively few have the eternal life the Apostle John speaks of when he writes, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This, of course, is still true in much of the Southeastern US. Whether it is in the US territory of Puerto Rico or in our hometown, we must not forget that many who say the right words are still heading the wrong direction. If we love them, we must reclaim an urgency for sharing the gospel with them and being a church that is believing and living out the things assigned to us in the Scriptures.
8. Pastor Job can put away some food and saw some logs!
On a more serious concluding note, thank you for praying for us. I believe Christ is paving a way to join His work in Puerto Rico, and I look forward to seeing how God uses us there to reach a city and eventually impact an island for the glory of Christ our King.