Pastor Keith: Welcome to this episode of Doxology Matters, we’re so glad that you have joined us. This is the 25th episode. I don’t know if you’ve been with us that long, but if this is your first time, we want to say thank you for joining in and joining the conversation. At Doxology Matters we hope to help you think deeply about God’s Word as you praise Him. And today’s topic is missions and the glory of God – Missions and the Glory of God. We see Matthew 28:16-20:
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
Praise God for His Holy Word. Today in our discussion around this topic, we have three great guests. We’ve got Lisa Blessing with us.
Lisa Blessing: Hi, Keith.
Pastor Keith: She’s from Bethel Baptist Church, the missions Chair. Right? Yeah, the missions Chair. Great to have you hear. And we’ve got Matt Carpenter back with us. We’re glad to have him, wearing his 20schemes shirt, sweatshirt. And we’ve got Pastor Doug back with us here –
Doug Echols: Great to be back.
Pastor Keith: Glad to have you guys. I just want to ask you a couple questions as we begin. Actually the whole interview will be all questions. [Laughter] Respond to the following quote by John Piper. In one of this books, Let the Nations Be Glad, he says at the first page there, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.” Matt, as a worship leader, pastor, what do you resonate with that quote and what’s your observation about that quote from John Piper?
Matt Carpenter: The first thing about that quote that always strikes, and in particular struck me when I first heard it, was, it’s really helpful to think of missions in this way. I think I agree with Piper here, in that Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And what that verse means is not just that we have sinned, but we’ve fallen short of giving God the glory that He deserves. Romans 1, God is creator. We do not give thanks to him as we ought to. So when Piper says, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t,” I think that’s really, really helpful. Worship is what should drive missions, because we want God’s glory to be the ultimate goal.
Pastor Keith: Right, because He is the ultimate goal. I mean, in heaven, that’s going to be what we do is worship the Lamb, every tribe, tongue, and nation. But that should fuel us for missions. Yeah, that should definitely fuel us for missions. Any other reflections – Lisa, Pastor Doug – that you have about that?
Doug Echols: I would say just that our goal – our goal should always be to have more worshipers. That as we seek to share the gospel, both at home and abroad, our goal should be to have more people that are gathered together to worship the Savior.
Pastor Keith: Amen. Amen. Amen.
Lisa Blessing: Well, I was also thinking that it’s ultimate to worship, because God as Father wants all of His family there. So we’re called to go out, almost like to go among the streets and call the people to the banquet, because He is not completely fulfilled until they’re all there. He’s looking for all of us to come. And so to kind of join in missions, being kind of a neat thing, saying, “Hey, we’ve got to bring more worshipers to the table. We’ve got to all be here together.” So it is ultimately just to worship, not like a task. You know? You’re not a task.
Pastor Keith: Praise God for those answers. What was your first kind of awakening to missions as you were growing up. Pastor Doug, when did you first – what was the first thing you remember about missions? Maybe something in –
Doug Echols: Well, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and we used to have what’s called Royal Ambassadors, and so that was basically a time we met together on Wednesday nights, had lessons where they talked about missionaries and prayers for missionaries. So that was kind of the earliest memory that I have of missions.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, RAs. I remember. Yeah, yeah, the RAs.
Doug Echols: RAs and GAs.
Pastor Keith: Were you in GAs, Lisa?
Lisa Blessing: No, because I grew up in a military family, so it was very kind of – when they had Protestant services, that means a little bit of every denomination. So it wasn’t particular, and so I didn’t really know about that program till later. But I knew a lot about mission from my grandmother, who was just a faithful wonderful woman. And she was always, forever collecting things, sending things, buying this for that. So it was just always impressive to me to see that goal.
Pastor Keith: So she was a real model to you?
Lisa Blessing: Very much, yeah.
Pastor Keith: Now where did you grow up? Where are you originally from?
Lisa Blessing: Well, I have moved 21 times. I’m older than anybody at this table, but that’s still impressive. But I grew up military and I married military. So I’ve been a little bit of everywhere. And I remember a Sunday School teacher here told me, “We look at you military as being kind of missionaries,” which was like, ooh, that’s kind of a strong thing to have someone tell you. So the great part of that is that you see a little bit of everything. I’ve lived several places overseas. So when you see worshipers there, that’s a little bit like being – in a foreign country, that’s a great part of worshipping with people from other nations. So that part was really neat, to see it’s the same God everywhere, different tongues, but even the same songs just in their own language. So that has been really cool. So grew up kind of with that kind of a take to it.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, when we were in Haiti – we’ve gone to mission trips, you and I, to Haiti and heard some of those same songs in the Creole.
Lisa Blessing: Yeah, in Creole, but like 18,000 times longer. One time we had a song that was 25 minutes long. One song.
Pastor Keith: And about 20 times as loud, right.
Lisa Blessing: Very, yeah.
Pastor Keith: That’s another topic. But Matt how about you?
Matt Carpenter: Growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Hampton, we had a missionary family that we sponsored in particular that went to Guatemala. So that was my first exposure I remember. I don’t know if it was the first time we sent them out or if they had just come back and visited, but I have some early memories of them talking about some of the mercy ministry they did there in Guatemala putting in water filters, but also reporting about the Awana program that they were running there and sharing the gospel with the kids and the families there. So that was some of the earliest exposure I had to missions.
Pastor Keith: Well, praise God for those early exposures. Last night I was looking up the famous quote that one writer says is not actually attributed to Francis Assisi, that none of his writings indicate this language. But you hear that quote, which is a terrible quote, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” I think back – well, first we want to read this Scripture out of Romans 10, but I think about Dr. Moeller’s message at T4G when he preached a message called “It’s an Articulated Gospel.” You have to articulate the gospel. So Romans 10:13, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” So the gospel is an articulated gospel. Pastor Doug, as a preacher of God’s Word, that probably really compels you as you think about Romans chapter 10.
Doug Echols: Absolutely, yeah. I think that quote that you mentioned there is a – I think in some ways it can become a copout for people that, “I don’t have to speak the gospel. I don’t have to speak the truth. I can just live my life and hopefully people are going to see that and hopefully people are going to respond.” But we know that the only way that somebody can respond is if they hear the word. And so we have to be people that are not just living out our Christian life, but we have to be people that are speaking the truth and speaking the Word.
Matt Carpenter: In addition to that, when looking at the questions – and you put that Scripture there, and of course, how can they hear unless someone preaches – it brought to mind a Scripture that I was reading the other day in Acts. So simple, and it just kind of stuck out to me like crazy. In Acts 10, Peter goes to Cornelius and just these words, so in verse 33, Cornelius is talking, “So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” And then in verse 34, so simple, it says, “So Peter opened his mouth and said…” It didn’t say, “So Peter decided to treat them very well.” He opened his mouth. Seems pretty straight forward, but it’s something that we struggle to do often.
Pastor Keith: If you are a Doxology Matters listener, then you are very well informed that Matt is a songwriter. And as you think about that verse, you communicate not only as you lead and care in your pastoral duties, but you have the gospel in your songs. Do you think about that? That you are a Great Commission Christian in the songs that you write?
Matt Carpenter: You know, sometimes I have, but I don’t think about it as often as I should. I’m sure you guys understand as those in ministry, sometimes it can be hard to get out there and to find other people that you can share the gospel with. But we often diminish those ways that we are faithful. And so it is encouraging to think that there may be those out there that have heard songs that Joel and I have written, where we’ve proclaimed the gospel through there, and the Lord might have used that.
Pastor Keith: You know, when we had Alvin Reed here, when he was sharing his book Share Jesus Without Freaking Out, when he spoke that Sunday, it was just grace to my soul when he said, “Be who God has made you to be and be a Great Commission Christian in the gifts and the skills that He has given you to be. If you’re a writer, write in a way that is being” – I’m paraphrasing – “a Great Commission Christian. Portray the greatness of Christ in everything you do.” And that was so encouraging to me. Sometimes we think about missions only in this way; short-term mission trips is only missions. No. We need to look at all the avenues of our life where we are and the skills that God’s given us to bring fame to His name and communicate the riches of Jesus Christ. I was really grateful for that. What do you think about when you think of missionary? Lisa, what do you think? When you hear the term missionary, what comes to your mind?
Lisa Blessing: Well, the first one that came to my mind was Paul, and then I went to Lottie Moon, so I’m coming down some ages after that. But then you think, well, it’s not someone. It’s really, in all honesty, all of us. Like you were saying, missions should be an outgrowth, a natural occurrence of who God has made you and the message you want to share. And I think so many times, again like what Doug was saying, we can say it’s kind of a copout. Like, “It’s for them. It’s the missionaries that do it.” And we might go help them at that time, but then we are done and we go back to our lives and we – but that’s – they’re not in compartments. Our life for Christ should be our life for Christ, open, using it all, so people can see it, and that all of your words portray back to Him for His glory.
Pastor Keith: Amen.
Matt Carpenter: That’s good.
Lisa Blessing: So when you think of missionary, it should be all of the church. Right? All of us. And I think that’s sometimes a way that the devil gets you scared or fearful, because, “I can’t be that. I can’t be Lottie Moon.”
Pastor Keith: Yeah, can’t be Billy Graham.
Lisa Blessing: Yeah, can’t be Billy Graham, so I’m not anything.
Pastor Keith: That’s a very gracious answer. As we think through church history, even current history after the canon was closed, if you will, who are some missionaries that have been significant throughout church history that come to mind? Lottie Moon. Annie Armstrong. Any come to mind to you Pastor Doug?
Doug Echols: William Carey. He’s known as the father of modern missions. Adoni-, Ad-, Adoniram – never say that word right.
Pastor Keith: That’s his –
Doug Echols: First name – Judson was the father of American missions. Called out of America to go to Burma and spent 40 years in Burma. Of course we think about others like Jim Elliot, who gave his life on the mission field in Ecuador. There are so many others out there. I’m reading through, right now, a biography about John Paton, someone you may not have heard about, but powerful missionary, served the Lord in the Hebrides Islands. Basically he served the Lord with cannibals and shared the gospel with cannibals.
Matt Carpenter: Oh, yeah. I think I’ve heard of him.
Doug Echols: Yes. It’s powerful. Talk about courage and bravery, taking the gospel –
Matt Carpenter: Didn’t his wife die a couple of, maybe, weeks or months after they got there?
Doug Echols: Yes. Yep, sure did.
Pastor Keith: Wow, no, I’d not heard of him before. Have any of you read anything from George Müller with the orphanage?
Lisa Blessing: Yeah, how he never had a budget or he just prayed each day, and for 40 years God provided. I mean, wow. That’s something.
Pastor Keith: Of course we think of Billy Graham and those that are – maybe unbelievers when they think of probably an evangelist or missionary, they probably think of Billy Graham who boldly proclaimed the gospel. I love watching those when they come on. I forget what they call it. They got the little icon in the – classics maybe. I mean, it’s not a complicated message, but it’s clear and it’s bold and compelling. Super grateful for that. We think about some local missionaries that we have that our church supports. And as we mentioned, Lisa is the Chair of the missions committee. When you got that role, I was so excited, because you’re just perfect for it on so many levels. What is your heart, as you lead the missions committee? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Lisa Blessing: Well, that’s interesting. First time I got on the missions committee, I was just so excited to be able to share. That’s my passion. That and children. I love both of those. So you just don’t know where that’s really going to go. What do you really do on a missions committee? But boy, when your heart is open – I just pray, “Lord, I don’t know where this goes or what you want me to do.” Because you almost feel like you should have a little notebook that tells you, “Step 1.” I always say it’s always wrong to have a manual, because then you get messed up in a manual. You just got to go where God leads you and then be true to that.
So He has just opened so many doors, and then I became the – just really by default. I’m sorry Lord. I felt Him calling me to be Chairman. I was like, “Oh, I was asking everybody else if they would do it.” They all said, “No.” So I said, “Okay, I think I’m going to have to do it. I think it’s going to be me.” So I said, “I’ll do it.” And then this happens. The COVID whole thing happens, and that just opened up, what should we as our mission committee do to help serve? It becomes very blatant. And then also our missionary partners. The ones in Haiti and Argentina and North Africa, they’re all really hurting, because everything is hurting. So really opened up, I said, “Oh, I didn’t mean that many doors, Lord, to open up.” [Laughter] A couple little doors.
Pastor Keith: Something I could manage.
Lisa Blessing: Something I could manage, like a small food drive or something, but not the whole world needing something. But I think that that’s the part with – is that I just said, “Lead us through each step and show us where our heart should be directed and focused.” And then also just really – and I know Doug brought this up after his sabat-, just really having – grounded in prayer, because through the prayer, God has always opened a door where someone says, “I was praying and this is what came to mind.” So then we kind of search that one out. Why is that on your heart? Is God leading our congregation, our group to do that? So that’s very powerful.
Pastor Keith: I appreciate that humble response to following the Lord and seeing what He has. Yeah, COVID-19 has provided all kind of different opportunities that we never would even foresee coming to be. One of the missionaries that we support – I don’t know if I’ve even shared this with you yet, with our Haiti team. But Pastor Anuel, he sent me pictures of our support that we give him. He communicates with me regularly. And he said, “Pastor Keith, we have a need for food.” And he said, “So we felt like it would be best to give this money to feed all these people in the community, because of” – something with, I’m thinking, maybe COVID there. And so he sent me all these pictures of the food being distributed. It was so neat.
Lisa Blessing: To see that. Yeah, it is. It’s amazing what God can do with seemingly a little thing from here, or kind of, “I don’t know how He’s going to use it. How in the world could He use that?” And then He uses it always.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, and the room was packed full of people, and we know Pastor Anuel is a conservative, orthodox, Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming pastor that is faithfully caring for his people. It’s just super encouraging, as we give to that. What is God doing in the world that really encourages you in your faith? As you read, as you listen?
Matt Carpenter: So even when thinking about this, sometimes my mind kind of goes blank. I don’t know about you. Or it can be hard to really pinpoint or see what the Lord is doing. So just something that might encourage those who are listening, who might be like me right now and maybe not have their eyes totally focused on the big picture right now, just be encouraged that the Lord is always doing more than we expect.
And in particular, what I have in mind is in 1 Kings 19 verses 14 and 18, when Elijah runs away to the mountain after Israel seems to have turned on him again. And in verse 14 he says this, he said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your alters, and killed your prophets with the sword. And I, even I only am left, and they seek my life to take it away.” And sometimes it can feel that way, feel like we’re on an island. But then in verse 18, the Lord says, “Yet, I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
Basically God is reminding Elijah, “Listen, based on what you’re seeing, yeah, it does look pretty bad doesn’t it? But there are 7,000 people in Israel that you have no idea about that are still faithful, still working for me.” And so long story short, that encourages me in the world of missions, even if I may not be as aware as I should be about these things. God’s Word tells me that He’s working. And even listening to what you guys were talking about with your missionaries that you’re supporting, that encourages me. The Lord’s working and He’s faithful.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, that’s a good word, brother. I appreciate that. Why do we think of missions as something far away and not something close at hand?
Doug Echols: I think a lot of times we like to focus in on the passage of Scripture that you read at the beginning, where Christ says to go into all the world. And a lot of times we focus in on the world part of it and forget that we’re supposed to start – I think we’re supposed to start at home and share the gospel where we’re at, across the street, and allow that to spread to the world. I also think that as we go, and this has certainly been my experience, as I go overseas, as I go over to the other parts of the world, that gives me a new hunger even for my home and for my neighbors.
Matt Carpenter: I think, Lisa, you mentioned earlier the kind of expert mentality as well. They have the badge, the title missionary.
Pastor Keith: They’re taking care of it.
Matt Carpenter: Right. They’ve got it.
Lisa Blessing: Or you have to take a couple of courses and get some sort of degree and be checked out. Then I’m ready. That’s kind of how you feel.
Matt Carpenter: It reminds me of Acts 5 when Peter and John are before the Council and the Council were amazed that these men, uneducated men, were speaking so boldly and clearly to them. This was Peter and John. But the way the Word describes them really should be encouraging to us. We’re not the smartest people in the room or in the world, yet the Lord can use us as well.
Pastor Keith: And it’s in our everyday life of just – being a witness is just sharing what God is doing in our life. The other day, I was at physical therapy and getting my shoulder worked on. I was laying on the table there and the therapist was working on my shoulder and just conversation with them. I started talking about identity, and my identity is rooted in Jesus Christ, and before I said it, I got a little nervous. It just came. I’m like, “I’m nervous.” I’m like, “Maybe I shouldn’t –” and I just said it, you know. And I thought, “Why am I nervous?” Just share the hope that is within me. Even a – air quotes – “pastor” still getting nervous about sharing that. So I think we just need to be faithful in that, just as conversations come around. There’s so many opportunities that we can take, that we just need to have the ear to the Spirit and see what the Lord’s doing.
Lisa Blessing: And I’m thinking through Christ’s experiences, well actually all the Apostles and disciples, the most poignant ones were the relationship ones. I mean, Sermon on the Mount was a fabulous thing, but that was more doctrine. “This is how it is.” But the Samaritan woman, the woman at the well, same-same, but the people that He met, the people that came at night to see Him, the individual discussions He had with his disciples. Just that relationship – and I think Doug, I found one of his old sermons that actually was talking about this, reminded that the relationship part, and it to be very natural. Just a natural – kind of like you were saying, you’re with, you’re sitting there, and it comes, and I think anytime I get nervous, that’s because it’s important to say.
Pastor Keith: Yes, that’s right.
Lisa Blessing: And the devils is saying, “Don’t say it.” And God’s saying, “You say it. You say it. You say it.” So you just feel that tug there and you just know the Holy Spirit is pushing you beyond what we’re able, what we’re comfortable, because He’s given me the courage to say it. He wants me to say it, so I just have to open my mouth and say that. So I just know those times almost are most powerful. When we were in Haiti last time, there’s just a few of us the last time I went, and Jim Smith – wonderful man – he had a wonderful talk with someone, who just happened to be talking to him, whose life was mirroring what he had gone through. I mean, what are the odds that this one man in Haiti would find Jim who had gone through the exact same thing he had, and they had a powerful discussion. And I said, “Only the Lord can do that and use those words, very seemingly innocent, but to make such a life change for someone.”
Pastor Keith: I knew you’d be so great on this podcast.
Doug Echols: I think it was David Platt that said that missions is not about – you don’t become a missionary by aviation. And he was basically saying that a lot of times people think, “Well, if I just get on an airplane and go somewhere else, then I’ll be a missionary.” I think he was driving home the point that missions is not aviation. Missions is right here locally.
Pastor Keith: What do you think are some of the barriers or some of the things that makes people nervous about being a witness for Jesus Christ? And then the followup question to that, what are some steps we can take to maybe break down those barriers in our own life? Open it up to any of you.
Doug Echols: Yeah, there’s tons of barriers that people deal with. One is that they’re afraid they’re going to say the wrong thing. They’re going to say something that is wrong. Other people have a barrier that they’re going to get a question asked to them that is going to – that they won’t have the answer to. And probably the biggest barrier that people have is just that they’re going to offend somebody, that something that they’re going to say, especially in our politically correct world that we’re living in today, that something that they’re going to say is offensive. And so those are three barriers that come to mind first.
Matt Carpenter: Would you say those find their roots ultimately in just fear of man in general?
Doug Echols: Absolutely. Yeah.
Matt Carpenter: I identify even with what you’re talking about, like not knowing the right thing to say. I’m taking a guy, a teenager in my church through one of the 9Marks book by Greg Gilbert called What is the Gospel?
Pastor Keith: Excellent book.
Matt Carpenter: It is wonderful and it’s concise. It’s compact and it’s even just helping me and giving me more evangelism zeal just because I feel more confident in just articulating what is the gospel. And just for those listening, usually he articulates it in just four words that you explain. Not just those four words. God, man, Christ, and response. Who is God? Who is man? What has Christ done for man? And how do you respond to that news? So even small things like that can really, really help in just your – you can even take a friend through that book.
Lisa Blessing: It’s like that we studied and practiced, which was a huge help, the three circles, which we did in Haiti when we’d go around. And just to retract the Romans Road. Practicing with that sometimes, and I’ll go through that, sometimes I’ll just write down. So not that it’s stilted when you’re saying it, but just it comes back to your mind. These are the versus I want to make sure you know and this is – and then you can weave the personal part. What’s the relationship – like they say something and you can respond to that. But you don’t want to forget the major parts. So practicing it, it helps you to just stay focused, so when they ask – like my brother-in-law did, “Well how did all the animals get on the ark?” You just go right back to the message of the gospel and say, “Hold that. Table that.” Just so you don’t get distracted, to practice, to know you just want to say it, have those parts.
Pastor Keith: So that’s one of the methods that helps bring down the barriers. And I believe it was Jimmy Scroggins who came up with that, just on a napkin somewhere. He didn’t design it to be a program. It just kind of happened, and it’s served a lot of people. I think when I use the three circles, when we do it in Haiti, I love it. When I do it here – see there? Even in my speech, I’m going somewhere off, was right here. But my issue for me is concision. I want to talk so much about circle one, circle two, and like – you know what I mean? Theologically I want to make sure it’s all covered. And I remember when Jacob Vye was teaching us down in Haiti, and he was doing such a great job. And was like, “Well, you didn’t say that. And you did say this.” It’s not that he didn’t want to say that, but you only have a certain amount of time for clarity.
Matt Carpenter: Right. And I think different people are in different places. Because for some people, they might have a real sense of the Lord’s judgement. For some reason they just can’t shake the feeling that they’re sinners and that they really need to hear the good news. Everyone always needs to hear the good news. But some people don’t have that sense of judgement. So if you go up to them and just immediately tell them, “You can be saved,” they don’t even know –
Pastor Keith: From what?
Matt Carpenter: What do I need to be saved from? And so I’m with you there. Sometimes even either being not as articulate as I’d like to be, over explaining, or just not taking a moment to get to know the person and just see where they are and how can I apply the gospel to them in their particular context.
Pastor Keith: It’s kind of like, slow our roll, just so to speak, and be sensitive to the Spirit. What are some other methods that have been helpful?
Lisa Blessing: Remember that old – oh, my word – Four Spiritual Laws? You may not, since I’m older than you all. That was what we did in college was the Four Spiritual Laws. Is that the one with the chair? Remember the chair and God’s outside – He’s supposed to be there and not you on the chair.
Pastor Keith: Does that connect to the Romans Road? I use Romans Road a lot.
Lisa Blessing: Well, that one, it kind of dwells it in, but I think the Four Spiritual Laws – I don’t know if it was Campus Crusade that did it.
Doug Echols: That was Campus Crusade. Bill Bright.
Lisa Blessing: Bill Bright, yeah, that’s his way. And I still have a really old tattered one, but I’ve been through that one. Or just a tract sometimes is just good. Billy Graham has a couple and they’re just like four pages long. You can just sort of read through those too with them.
Pastor Keith: _____ Faith, and then James Kennedy, the late James Kennedy with Evangelism Explosion. That to me was like – I mean that was an intense – Evangelism Explosion, have you don’t that one?
Doug Echols: I don’t know.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, it’s no joke, man. That could be daunting to people. Like, okay, I’m going to go witness, but I’m going to take this course and memorize this huge script. I’m not here to critique a program, because that’s not what this podcast is about. But that was a very exhaustive one. Now didn’t Billy Graham have Steps to Peace with God, I believe.
Doug Echols: Yeah, that was called Steps to Peace with God, yeah.
Pastor Keith: Pastor Doug, could you share a little bit about the SBC, maybe from those that are listening in our church family, that kind of give behind the scenes of what the SBC is doing with the Send Network?
Doug Echols: Sure. Yeah, so the Send Network, S-E-N-D, not S-I-N. Send Network.
Matt Carpenter: Yeah, it kind of sounded like you said, “Sin.”
Pastor Keith: Yeah, it did.
Doug Echols: So, S-E-N-D. That’s with the North American Mission Board and the IMB, the International Mission Board, are working together now to do two things, primarily two things. Number one, church planting, and so one branch of the Send Network is church planting. And so they’re looking to plant church in North America as well as internationally. And so if you talk to someone that works for the North American Mission Board, the majority, I think the majority of their emphasis now is on church planting. And then the second part of the Send Network is Send Relief, and that’s where they do compassion ministries. And so we’re meeting physical needs with the hope of being able to meet their spiritual needs. Part of that, something that falls underneath that is disaster relief. So the North American Mission Board, most people don’t realize it, is the second largest disaster relief organization after the Red Cross.
Pastor Keith: Is that right?
Doug Echols: Yes.
Pastor Keith: I didn’t know that.
Doug Echols: Yeah.
Pastor Keith: Wow. Now does the Southern Baptist method of corporate missions is the Cooperative Program. Does the Cooperative Program help with that?
Doug Echols: Yeah, absolutely. The Cooperative Program is the funding tool that is used.
Pastor Keith: Mechanism.
Doug Echols: The mechanism that’s used for missions and for sending out missionaries. So every church that’s a part of the Cooperative Program, every church that gives towards the Cooperative Program, basically all that money goes into a pool, if you will. And then there’s a formula that’s divided up. How much money does the North American Mission Board get, and the International Mission Board, and seminaries and those types of things.
Pastor Keith: As we think about our missions giving here at Bethel – we’re a people that give to the Cooperative Program?
Doug Echols: Yes, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: And then we give to – what are some other places that our stewardship dollars are going?
Lisa Blessing: For –?
Pastor Keith: Missions.
Lisa Blessing: Missions? Well, North Africa, and then the places in Haiti. Is that what you’re asking?
Pastor Keith: Uh-huh.
Lisa Blessing: Argentina. Trying to think. But then we also as a group, we met and we gave some money towards a girl going to Vietnam, and we have supported missionaries that actually were going to go to – the Erwins that were going to go to China – or Southeast Asia. Now because of all this, they’re kind of outside the countries waiting.
Pastor Keith: What about Russia?
Lisa Blessing: Yeah, our trip to Russia as well, when that happens and supporting the orphanages and things there in a certain local. So those are the main ones that we do and then –
Pastor Keith: Maryland with The Gathering Place.
Lisa Blessing: And with you with Maryland. And then also – that’s overseas and then in country is Northeastern Bible College, which I guess is in – and Gathering Place, which are outside within the U.S. And then all our local mission, which would be Care Net, Thrive, Peninsula Rescue Mission. And our Awana missionary too. So we support –
Pastor Keith: Oh, fantastic.
Lisa Blessing: – all of those.
Pastor Keith: And then Compassion 757.
Lisa Blessing: Yeah, that’s just sort of – yeah.
Pastor Keith: One of the statements that Pastor Doug lead us to, one of the E’s, is engage the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for this brother’s emphasis in our church of really building a missions culture, fostering it. I’ve been here, in August, nine years, and I’ve really seen that grow and develop, a burden in people’s hearts to go on mission. Thankful for that. What would you say as we’re coming to the close of this episode, for those that maybe have never gone on a short-term missions trip, what word would you encourage people to go on a short-term missions trip? State side or internationally.
Lisa Blessing: Do it.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, it’ll rock your world.
Lisa Blessing: It will.
Matt Carpenter: One thing that I think I’ve become aware of even in my own experience – when I was a teenager, went to Guatemala and helped serve some of the missionaries there. One thing that I think is helpful to be aware of is to not simply go because it will be – quote – “life changing.” I think that can subtly make the trip about the person going on the trip. And we can often be concerned about doing things that look cool on a church report card rather than doing things that our missionaries really need.
For instance, there are some missionaries I’ve heard of that people went for a short term, and all they did was watch the missionaries’ kids so that they could rest. Just so that these missionaries could be refreshed and have more gospel zeal in those times. It’s good to go dig a well. It’s good to go do all those other things, but in the midst of it, the warning I would give is make sure you check your motives before you go. Is your motive God’s glory in serving these other servants who are in potentially hostile areas? Definitely more hostile than what we’re accustomed to here in the states.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, it comes back to one of the overarching points that we seem to be talking about today, the value is prayer. Pray as you’re thinking about doing these endeavors. I know with Haiti, as we were thinking about this mission for Haiti, we spent a lot of time in prayer. What do the missionaries need? Who should we support? And a sense of vetting, that was one of the questions I had. How do you know who’s good to support? What kind of things do you ask them to do?
And for Haiti, we wanted to make sure that they were biblically solid, that they were proclaiming the gospel, the biblical gospel, and then pray to see how we can serve them best as they spread the gospel in their native land. One question we had from social media, “Not all of us are called to make missions a profession. How do you balance mission activity at work without alienating yourself from either the boss or the coworkers?” That’ll be our final question. Anybody like to take that question?
Doug Echols: I think you have to be wise. You have to understand that obviously there are certain boundaries that you can’t cross, especially if you are a supervisor or someone – you don’t want to take away from what your job responsibility is. You don’t want to take away from the time that you’re on the clock for. So I think it’s important that people know who you are, they know what you believe, they know that you are a born-again Christian. And then I think that as that happens, people that have needs, they’ll come to you. I’ve seen that in the past. I’ve talked to people in the past who somebody has a death in their family, and so who do they come to talk to? They come to talk to someone who has lived a Christian life and that opens up the doors, opens up opportunities.
Matt Carpenter: I think that’s really, really helpful. Because in those situations, you can feel kind of trapped sometimes, or you can feel like in a rock and a hard place. It reminded me of where Paul was literally in a very trapped place. At the end of Colossians, Paul says this in 4:2 through 6, he says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open to us a door for the Word to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.”
So this prison that Paul is in literally has a door that could prevent the gospel going forth, but he knows that even if his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ pray for him, there’s no situation that you’re in that God cannot create an opportunity or open a door, so to speak, for you to present the gospel. So, Pastor Doug, I completely agree with what you said. And in addition to that, pray. I think there’s so many times where we look at our situation and go, “What can we do?” Well, we have one of the greatest things we could do; pray that the Lord would give us a door. And you’d be surprised what the Lord would do.
Pastor Keith: Amen. We’re going to leave it right there. Thank you all so much for being on this episode of Doxology Matters, and listeners we thank you for joining the conversation and listening in. You can find more episodes and subscribe to Doxology Matters on your favorite podcast platform, like Apple Podcast or Spotify. Or if you’re an android user – I don’t know about that. But if you’re an android user, you can search on probably Google Play, would be my guess. Haven’t been over on that side of things much. But you can search on your favorite podcast platform and find Doxology Matters. Join the conversation, as we seek to think deeply about God’s Word as we praise Him. Thanks for listening.