“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45
A wise sales manager once told me to scan the office of a potential customer to determine their interests. Oftentimes surroundings reflect what the customer spends time doing; their passion; what they love. You might see a twelve point buck or a six pound largemouth bass mounted on their office wall. Perhaps it is a photo of the family or grandchildren that is conspicuously and prominently located on the desk. Get the customer talking about what they love and they will continue talking about that subject. After going on and on about their passion, they then feel obligated to hear your sales presentation. I have used this tactic for many years and believe me, it works. Matthew 6:21 tells us that we love what we treasure: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Clearly people talk about what they love.
Not only do we speak about what is on our hearts, but we respond to the things we love as well. When teaching Singles here at First Baptist Church of Milford, I always told the young ladies in the class to look at the checkbook of a potential husband before making a marriage commitment. See what they spend their money on; see if they give to the church. People always give towards things they love. One young lady told me that her fiancé had used money he was saving to purchase a new firearm to put a down payment on her engagement ring. I told her the young man was a “keeper”. Jesus’ love for people caused Him to respond. We see an example of such a response in Matthew 9:36, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” The love of Jesus moved Him to respond; so much so that He gave His life for us.
I believe many churches love missions; I know our church does. First Baptist Church of Milford places great energy in its missions program. We give generously to print the Word of God and to get it to those that do not have a Bible. We choose a different continent each year and have “Missions Emphasis Day” leading up to our annual conference. In doing so, we keep our focus on our missions goals. I wonder if we sometimes get the feeling that we are “doing enough”. I wonder if we, as a church, sometimes think: “We talk about missions; we give and we pray. Our church has a “missions focus” all year long and our church prints millions of copies of God’s Word.” I wonder if we then settle into a comfort zone and become unmoved. I sometimes wonder if we are truly “doing enough”. What more could we do?
It is a great privilege to teach an Adult Bible Study class here at First Baptist Church of Milford. My wife and I are blessed to work with the Berean class. Like other classes, we have a group of believers that love the Lord, His Word, and missions. Like all First Baptist Church of Milford Adult Bible Study classes, we are “connected” with at least one missionary family. Events in the past two years have caused me to recognize a way in which we can do more. A little over 18 months ago, our Berean class assigned a couple to oversee our part in missions. This couple helped our Berean class be accountable and kept us informed as we endeavored to do more as a class for missions. What did we do? I simply refer to it as “staying connected”.
The Carter family, missionaries to North Africa, is assigned to our Berean class. We have the joy of “staying connected” with Michael, Kristen, and their children, Maya, Kenza, and Ian. How we stay “connected” is of vital importance. I have heard missionaries say that they sometimes feel forgotten when they get to the field. Even though we speak of missions often, and we pray and give, the missionary family is miles away. The missionary family can become unconnected to their church. How can we “stay connected”? Here are a few ways in which our Berean class stays connected with the Carters.
To love missions is to love people. Missionaries are people who sometimes are forgotten. My prayer is that the Lord uses this conference to move someone to respond and ultimately to go; and that we, as a church, stay connected to those that are sent.
Each month, a different family from our Berean class sends a handwritten letter or card to the Carter family. Each month, a different family lets the Carters know we are thinking of them and praying for the family and their needs. There is just something special about a handwritten message in today’s world of social media. A handwritten letter or card is warm and personal.
Each Sunday, our Berean class receives an offering. The entire offering is designated to our class missionaries and their families. We use these funds to send gifts to each of the family members on their birthdays, and to mom and dad on their wedding anniversary. It is so important for the children and adults to be remembered on these special days.
We plan early to make sure we can purchase gifts for each member of the family, so that the items can be shipped and arrive before the holiday. We have all taken photos of our children opening presents on Christmas Day. I cannot tell you how encouraging it is when our class receives photos of the Carter children and their smiling faces after opening Christmas gifts. What a blessing it is for us to be a blessing to them.
There does not have to be a special occasion to do something special for our missionaries. Often missionaries abroad do not have access to the things we take for granted here in America. Find out what they like, or something that they miss from the States, and surprise them with a package. Send them their favorite snack or upload an iTunes card with their favorite music. The package does not have to contain expensive items; it is the thought that counts!