Before the smartphone, before the flip-phone, and even before pagers, there was just thetelephone. No screen, no apps, no social media. Just a simple way to talk to someone. And not only could you talk to the person across town, you could “reach out and touch someone” through a wonderful (and sometimes pricey) service we knew as “long-distance.” Breeze back to this 1979 Bell System commercial that launched their famous “reach out and touch someone” campaign.
Aren’t we glad some things have changed with time? Corded phones became cordless and pocket-size, wedge hairstyles grew out, and station wagons transformed into SUVs and mini-vans.
How we do missions around the world is an ever-changing, always-dynamic phenomenon, too. We still strive to “reach out and touch someone” with something eternally valuable – the love of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. And the really incredible thing is that the effort of reaching out to the world not only brings change to other people’s lives, but it changes our lives, too. It teaches us about how God is at work around us. It shows us that when we reach the end of ourselves, God is already one or two steps ahead of us, working and coordinating situations for His good purposes. You could say that participatinginGod’smissionteaches us more about being on missionand walking in faith.
Part of walking in faith is giving back to God with not only our time and abilities, but also our money. This Did You Know series has been showing us how our World Mission Offering dollars are changing lives locally and globally. In this segment, we’re looking at how part of our offering is aimed at FBCA Directed Engagements – those ministries that FBCA directly oversees as we reach across the state, across the nation, and across the globe.
For the 2018-2019 fiscal year,
the total given to FBCA Directed Engagements will exceed $267,000.
To get the big picture of this concept of FBCA Directed Engagements, let’s start by establishing that we send people to do God’s work on a full-time, permanent basisand on a short-term, temporary basis. That presents as two options: Cross-Cultural Workers and Volunteer Mission Teams.
Direct CCW Sending ($227,920)
Our full-time, permanent workers are our Cross-Cultural Workers (CCW). They experience months of training, raise most of their own financial support, then go to their ministry location and live there, establishing deep roots with the people and becoming part of the life and culture. They have heard God’s call to reach out and touch the people of a particular country, and they respond by equipping themselves to go and live among those people.
Did you know?
- Jason and Ashley Berryhill were our first CCWs who went to Southeast Asia in 2009.
- Since then, we have sent over 20 CCWs to Sierra Leone, Niger, Japan, Spain, Slovenia, and other countries.
- CCWs commit to stay in their field of service for two years, with the possibility of extending their stay as long as they feel God directs them.
- CCWs reach out to family and friends to partner with them in prayer and in monthly giving by supporting their mission calling.
- Our church also supports each CCW. Last year, direct CCW support represented 35% of the total World Mission Offering given to First Baptist Church Arlington.
Click here to learn more about our current CCWs, contribute to their support, or join their community of prayer warriors.
Volunteer Missions Teams ($40,000)
Our short-term, temporary workers are our Volunteer Mission Teams (VMT). These are just what they sound like – volunteers who join together under a common mission goal and go out as a team. Where they go and what they do varies – it depends on who is going, where they are going, and what they are equipped and gifted to do once they get there.
And that’s what makes VMTs an exciting part of our mission strategy. VMTs enable a lot of people to experience God at work in a new place. Sometimes it’s overseas, but sometimes it’s in the U.S. or even in Texas. VMTs mobilize us to be personally involved in God’s work around the world.
VMTs are a varied group, to be sure! Adults, youth, married, single, experienced, or first-timers – there’s a place on a VMT for just about anyone who feels God’s call to serve. Sometimes they go to the same cities and countries where we have CCW personnel and partner with the established work going on there. Sometimes they go to other places and bring medical or dental assistance, evangelism, teaching, ministry, and construction. Other times, they teach Bible clubs for kids, or they may reach into areas where there is little or no Christian work.
Being on a VMT changes a person’s outlook on how they can personally “get in on what God is doing” in the world. It shows them how they can be part of God’s work by using their gifts and abilities.
Did you know?
- Our VMTs have been making history at FBCA for decades. Mission trips to Juarez, New York City, Torreon, Poland, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and other places have been part of the fabric of our church for years.
- More than a decade ago, one of our VMTs canoed down a river in Africa, making contact with villages who had never met a Christian before. Permanent workers then followed-up with those contacts to establish friendships and an offer to help with medical care, while sharing the good news of God and His love and forgiveness.
- Since 2003, and now several times each year, we send a VMT of youth and adults backpacking through the mountains and wading across rivers to reach the Cabecar people in Costa Rica who live in the southeast region, a few miles north of Panama, in the Valley of the Star. Our volunteers have provided medical, dental, and vision clinics; theological workshops and Bible study training; and construction services, including building churches in some of the small communities.
- While our VMT members pay their own trip expenses, our church provides funds for supplies and other costs related to the trip. Last year, 20% of our World Mission Offering was given to Volunteer Mission Teams.
Click here to see where our VMTs are headed in the next year – and to find out more about how you can participate in one of these short-term mission trips. You can join a trip, provide a scholarship, or pray for our VMTs.
Missionaries have been traversing the globe since Jesus’ followers first crossed borders to take the Good News to people near and far. When William Carey launched the modern missions movement in the late 1700s, a new wave of believers took up the mantle of missionary work. To get an idea of how much missions-sending and missions-going has changed, think about this:
Before the advent of air travel, when someone felt God’s call to reach the lost, they boarded a ship for a month-or-more voyage to another area of the world. Communication with family and friends meant hand-penned letters carried (by ship) back and forth across the ocean once or twice a year. Coming back to their home country for a furlough (or what we now often call stateside assignment) happened maybe once or twice in their lifetime. In some cases, when they left for their missionary assignment, they packed their clothing, medication, and books in a long wooden box – their coffin – because they planned to stay in that distant land and be buried there. Many knew they would never return home. But still, they went where God called them.
We are blessed to be able to criss-cross the planet in hours, not months. We can communicate by cell phone, social media apps, Skype, FaceTime, and email. Much has changed since missionaries first answered the call to reach out and touch the world.
God still calls. And we still go.