As we highlighted during Missions Week, finishing the work God called us to involves praying, giving, and going. Here are a few more stories.
“I have prayed for missionaries through the years. I don’t know that I have ever followed any kind of a routine, but have always prayed as they came to my mind. Also, if I knew of a specific need that a missionary had, I took that to God on a regular basis.” ~ Melody Fred
“I am not very systematic about my praying for missions or missionaries. I often pray when I receive a communication from a missionary (letter, email, Facebook, text, etc.). We have pictures of some of our missionary friends on our refrigerator and so that reminds me to pray.” ~ Bob Elsheimer
“How often do I pray for missions? Not as often as I should. I usually gather the monthly prayer letters that we get from our friends who are missionaries and I prayfor them. I also use the newspaper to pray for countries and world leaders, asking God to open doors for the gospel and open the hearts of the people.” ~ Marianne Elsheimer
“We started giving to missions in about 2007 and write a check each month. Reading emails and articles of how the missionaries are doing and how they are changing lives is very fulfilling to be part of what they are doing.” ~ Anonymous
“I don’t remember when I started giving specifically to missions. I usually budget some money for an offering, something related to missions as the need arises. I often give to my friends’ mission trips as a way to show my support to them.” ~ Anonymous
“I have never been on full time support as a missionary. However, for short term trips I have sent out letters and made presentations in order to raise support. It was an adventure to see how God would raise the money. I have always believed that if God wants something to happen then He will provide the resources to make it happen.” ~ Bob Elsheimer
Go: Bob Elsheimer
From Bob – My parents were heavily involved in world missions and in service through the church. We often had missionaries stay at our home overnight and I remember being caught up in their stories and the excitement of their lives. As a teen I read books by Nicky Cruz, Bruce Olson, or Don Richardson. In college, I began to work regularly with kids in the Chicago housing projects, was discipled by on-campus ministry staff, and attended a missions conference which challenged me to be involved in missions even while working at a secular career.
I went on my first short term missions trip overseas in my sophomore year of college and was part of a team sent to a remote area of Honduras to rebuild houses destroyed in a tropical storm and the resulting flooding. Since college, I have continued to seek opportunities to serve (primarily with children) and support missions. My wife and I have served on a missions committee at a church in California and have many friends who are missionaries.
Any time I have gone on a missions trip, my interest has come from multiple sources. One large factor is a personal tie to others going on the trip or the missionaries that we will be working with. Another factor is whether the type of ministry matches up to my passions and skills (working with kids for example). Yet, on all of the trips, God has taught me lessons and my perspectives about people and the world changed. Outside of the United States, I am always amazed at the openness of people to Jesus and the simple things that can be done to minister to people. When working with kids in the United States it is often challenging and I often learn lessons in how to reach their hearts or love them.
Go: Marianne Elsheimer
From Marianne – In the summer of 1979, during college, I had the opportunity to spend the summer in the Philippines. God used several verses to lead me in making the decision to go, but the ones that stood out the most were Matthew 9:36-38 about the harvest being plentiful, but the workers being few. I knew that God was calling me to be involved in missions. I knew a lot of people who were missionaries and I loved hearing stories about how God was changing peoples’ lives through the gospel.
It wasn’t really hard to take that first step in going to the Philippines but I do remember my parents being disappointed with that decision and also my decision to come on staff with Cru. I had to trust God and the more I took steps towards missions, the more I saw God open doors. There was a peace in knowing I was doing what God had called me to do.
Some of the high school kids at church have told me that they are thinking about taking a short term or summer missions trip but that it costs too much and their parents would never pay for it. I encourage them to trust God and raise the money instead of asking their parents for the money. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. The problem has never been lack of money but lack of people going. To anyone who is even thinking about taking a missions trip, I would encourage them to go and to be ready for an adventure that will change their life.
Go: Melody Fred
From Melody – What sparked my interest in missions? I first met Gwen Kovac when I was 13. She spoke of various missions assignments she had been on and I found those conversations very interesting. Gwen spoke Spanish fluently, just like my cousin Doug who had traveled to several Spanish speaking countries. Because of their influence, I also studied Spanish and eventually went on several short-term missions assignments.
I have been on two different teams from Timberline Church. In fact, these were the first two missions trip Timberline was a part of back in the days before we had a Missions Pastor. I went on those trips to help translate. On one of them, I was the one who became the interpreter for the Church Service. Since that was my first time, I was very thankful for people’s prayers.
I also went on three short-term missions assignments, the first two as a single woman and the last with my husband. I spent a year in Paraguay from 1984 to 1985, six months in Mexico in 1988, and then a year in Argentina in 1991 to 1992. On these assignments, people’s prayers meant a lot to me. When you are in another country for an extended period of time, you never know what you will face: spiritual issues, political issues, health issues, or financial issues. We knew when we sent out our monthly letters that there were people praying for us and the needs that we shared.