The Global Ministries of the Church of the United Brethren Church is deeply involved in holistic missions. While the focus has been overseas, they are partnered with local churches to introduce them to missions globally and locally. Our church has hosted two teams from two different UB churches on summer missions’ trips. They have planned, organized, and executed two Vacation Bible Schools and other outreach efforts while serving at our church. Globally, Jeff Bleijerveld is currently leading the Missions focus of the denomination, and he is partnering with other agencies and working with Huntington University (HU) to advance the goals of the Global Ministries department. One such example is the work that HU is doing in China and Macau. They are teaching teachers to teach English as a second language in these two countries. Jeff Bleijerveld on September 2, 2010 shared this story on his blog.
“Our team … works in local schools as English language teachers and conversationalists. This lends legitimacy to their presence in Macau, but also provides opportunity for them to get close to students, hear their pain, and share the gospel with them in meaningful ways. Working alongside the Living Water and Living Stone United Brethren churches, they network with church members so other Macanese believers can be brought into the circle of friends they form. This ensures that the gospel message is not simply dismissed as a Western cultural phenomenon, but is relevant for Asian culture as well.”
While the main reason is clear, holistically they are approaching missions from a holistic point of view. They recognized the need for education and are being authentic in how they educate and live alongside the native people demonstrating love. In so doing, they, have accomplished the 3Cs: Great Commission, Compassion, and Commandment.
Global Missions have recognized the need to partner with other like-minded ministries that might have a greater impact than if they go it alone. This has led to the Global Ministries partnering with Samaritan’s Purse; they are a global Christian group that does outreach and is led by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. So far the partnership involved the work in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Along with the Japan relief Jeff Bleijerveld said, “Our practice is to partner with organizations which specialize in disaster relief. When the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, we partnered with Samaritan’s Purse and CH Global and channeled relief contributions to them. Within weeks of the earthquake, UBs had sent nearly $70,000 for disaster relief.”
Global Ministries is also looking for ways to do missions in areas that are not as friendly to the gospel, but have potential. One such vision is ministry to Turkey. Jeff said,
“For me and for some members of the Global Ministries Leadership Team, we’re not interested in merely going to another American agency that is doing Muslim ministry. We’d prefer to learn directly from nationals in a Middle Eastern country, gaining their insights into what’s going on.”
This approach is to be as authentic as possible. They did not just want to do missions as usual; they wanted to involve the locals in local missions. What Jeff and his team realized was that Christians had a positive image in the area they were considering as a potential mission field. This realization speaks volume to what a life can accomplish when it is living by Kingdom principles and representing Christ in every area of one’s life. Jeff said he was told a story by a man who said, “When I was a little boy, my dad sent me to town to get farm implements. He told me to go to the Christian down the street, because he wouldn’t cheat us.” Another person told the story of people coming to the church, “they want to know if any Christians at the church need a job, because Christians are trustworthy and don’t tell lies.” These stories are what should be the reflection of the Church on the culture. In this way, the Church can live out the 3Cs and accomplish what God has planned. The Global Missions department has a desire to be holistic in their approach to missions and Jeff’s statement says it all. Their desire is, “Moving a Turkish couple into a new community to start a church and set up a business might be a great opportunity. They could support themselves. Being able to do business with integrity in the community might be one of the most meaningful ways to have a witness and impact the community.” This is the heart of the conversation, missions is an investment. It is an investment in the community that you live and plan to live for a long period of time. We should see ourselves as missionaries living out the commands of Jesus in our daily lives and not just a check box to ease our conscience.