The life of a missionary can often be somewhat nomadic. First, there is the initial move out of one’s home country to the place where the missionary will minister. Typically, missionaries have gone for a term at a time, punctuated by furloughs – also known as “home ministry assignment or HMA”. This can be a lot of moving around! Additionally it is not uncommon for God to move missionaries from one ministry assignment to another – whether in the same nation or in a completely different nation or even language group!
One question people might have is: Where do missionaries live while on home assignment? This is a good question because traditionally the missionary home assignment or furlough can be anywhere from weeks to a whole year! Most missionaries are by no means idle during their home assignment. They are expected to visit their financial supporters and sponsoring churches to give updates on the work on the field, giving glory to our Triune God for bringing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the nations!
Thankfully God provides for His servants, but it is not always easy for the missionary. Sometimes a missionary owns a home back in his or her passport country. But most often not. Some have generous relatives who may offer a place to stay. Others have financial supporters who share their home or open their vacation home for a season. A few churches have what is akin to the traditional parsonage or manse: the missionary house.
A while ago MTW created what we now call regional “hubs” in the U.S. These hubs are arms of MTW located within geographical regions (e.g. West Coast or Midwest). The idea is to have MTW personnel closer to where the people are in order to facilitate church involvement in world missions. This is really important given MTW’s goal that the PCA would send out 1% of its membership onto the missions field. When I first heard this goal a couple of years ago I was skeptical. My “glass is half empty” side kicked in: Where would we find these people? How would our denomination fund these new missionaries? How will our home office be able to keep up with the growth?
Though I don’t know how the Lord will work out all the details, I now believe it is certainly a worthy goal because there are so many around the world who have not had the opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel message. There are men, women and children who are perishing apart from Christ. They need to know the Savior. We need more folks to go and share the gospel message.
If I’m not mistaken, it was William Carey (“the father of modern missions”) who said “attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” While we shouldn’t presume God will answer our every request, we do know that He is both powerful and sovereign and that He is at work expanding His Kingdom. In light of that and because of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), this goal of sending out 1% of the PCA as missionaries doesn’t seem insurmountable. My wife Michele was just sharing with me the other day of how she heard Dr. Lloyd Kim (MTW Coordinator) talking about this goal. He spoke of it in terms of revival and said something to the effect that if we are to realize this goal, then we will need to pray for a great revival work of the Holy Spirit. Amen brother Lloyd. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). If we are to see God raise up more laborers, then we must ask Him to both send them and also uphold them once they are sent. It must be a work of God if we are to see the nations reached with the Good News.
“I want to see snow! When can we see snow?” Snow has been a hot topic of conversation in our house during the first three months of our one year Home Ministry Assignment (HMA). Continue reading Family Update→
Three weeks ago our family set foot in beautiful California. After four years in Uruguay, we have just begun our year long home ministry assignment (HMA). Praise God that we made it! We are living with Michele’s parents in Orange County, California for the first few months.
One of the hallmarks of missionary life is the inevitability of saying goodbye. Things change fast in the world of missions, and missionaries must be able and willing to move. Indeed our family has moved many times in our 16 years of being in ministry. While we are not moving now, we have been saying goodbye to family–our actual family and our missionary family. Continue reading Goodbyes and Hellos→
Breaking down in a strange city and being cared for by a local church. Being invited on Sunday morning to come share a meal with a family we have just met. Being hosted by a couple for a long weekend, complete with meals and beds for our large family. Being allowed to stay at an apartment or unoccupied house for a matter of weeks or months by friends or even strangers. Hospitality. This is something as missionaries that we are honored to both give and receive. And as we are on the brink of leaving for the field and I look back on our 8 months on the road visiting churches in the US, I can say that the one of the biggest (maybe the biggest?) spiritual blessing is the blessing of seeing God’s people practice hospitality towards us. Continue reading Simple Christian Hospitality→
Years ago, when Grey Davis first became governor of California, I remember reading a newspaper article which voiced the concern that Governor Davis might become “lost amid the paper clips” – that he would be so focused on managing the details that he could lose sight of the big picture. Since we moved out of California soon after this, I did not follow whether this humorous prediction came true. However, I always remembered what it said. It stuck out to me because of my own tendency to “get lost amid the paper clips”. Ray is the visionary; I am the one thinking in details. If there was a great tornado coming, I would be the one not gathering my children and fleeing, but making sure we had some snacks and extra blankets to take with us.
What does it mean to be settled? Certainly for a missionary, it means something a little different. In 2014 “settled” hasn’t been on the menu in the Call family! Here is a picture of the place we are calling home right now. In the picture we are about to start breakfast here in the apartment that we have been at since mid-June, on the property of some dear friends in Florida. While we are super thankful to the Lord for the blessings of being here near friends as we finish our Home Ministry Assignment and prepare to leave for Uruguay, we are not quite settled, both because of the tight squeeze and because we know it is only temporary.
As we watch God at work we sense that our time in the U.S. is drawing to a close and we are getting closer to departing for Uruguay. We received some good news this last week while we were on our way to Florida. Our support has bumped up significantly. We are now at 91% of our support goal. All praise be to the Lord! What does this mean? Continue reading Getting Closer to the Big Move→