“As the sun sets on another day, we ask you to pray…”
By Ken McCoy • JumpStart Ministries • Charlotte, North Carolina
I used to hate missions. Well, “hate” is too strong a word. Let me put it this way: as a teenager, if I had a choice between having my nose hairs plucked using a pair of pliers and sitting through a missionary’s presentation, I’d gladly choose the pliers.
I grew up in a very missions-minded church. Our church supported lots of missionaries. Lots. Their pictures and a map of the world with yarn stretching between their photo and their “mission field” covered one whole wall at the back of the sanctuary. (I hate to say it, but those pictures of unattractive people – especially the single missionary women – were a source of many smirks and jokes between my youth group friends and me.) With so many missionaries on our payrolls, our church made sacrifices in other areas – like youth ministry. But that’s not why I had a dislike of missionaries.
It was their slideshows.
Since our church supported so many missionaries, we had gobs of them coming home “on furlough” or passing through “raising support.” They would be scheduled to speak for the Sunday night service, and invariably would fire up the slide projector and show picture after picture of the “work” on the “field” as they droned on and on about “Brother Mubasa” or “Sister Hardtopronounce.” They always went longer than even our long-winded preacher would go on a Sunday night, which meant that I had less time to hang out with my friends in a restaurant.
And every time, EVERY TIME, their last slide would be of a sunset. They’d use that sunset slide to make their pitch for prayers, money, pen-pals, or whatever.
I came to view missionaries as well-intentioned dorks who couldn’t be successful in the States, so they had to go overseas and do their ministry work.
Boy, times have changed! (My attitude has changed too – a lot!) Today we view missionaries as studs, not dorks. Missions events such as the triennial “Urbana” conference have motivated a generation to send their best to reach the world for Christ. The globalization of society, combined with amazing communication tools and technologies, has changed world missions from an afterthought to a priority.
Youth leaders have responded to the change. We’ve developed short-term mission trips into an art form – and an important part of what we do with teenagers. Work projects. Vacation Bible Schools. Evangelistic dramas. Service projects. You name it, we do it. Anywhere. Anytime. All in the name of Jesus.
If you read through the latest issue of Youth Leaders Only, you’ll notice the “Missions” theme. You’ll realize that these resources are incredible tools for you to use in YOUR mission: reaching teenagers with the love of Jesus, training them to follow Him for a lifetime, and equipping them to influence their world for Him.