On Being a National Worker

by Bob Gerow

Not too long ago I was asked to revise AMG's brochure inviting folks to sponsor a national worker. As is my custom, I started asking questions: what does the term "national worker" mean? What does a "national worker" do? What do we want a reader of this brochure to do? What can a sponsor expect of a "national worker?"

My hope was that answering those questions would help order an informative presentation and call to action. Here's some of what I learned by asking.

If you are familiar with the term "national worker", a fairly predictable image comes to mind-someone in a faraway place riding a bicycle, or holding a loudspeaker, or handing out a tract or bible, preaching from a stump. The individual is a Christian believer bearing witness to the Gospel among his or her own people.

More often than not, when the ministry of this individual is presented, it is accompanied by an appeal to undergird their ministry through prayer and financial support. The sponsor's participation provides for their daily and ministry needs in order that they might devote themselves fully to the proclamation of the Gospel among their own people.

To prevent the relationship from being one-sided, the sponsored individual is kept aware of sponsor prayer and giving, and the sponsor is provided regular prayer letters, photos, and ministry updates. Sponsorship becomes relationship. The cause of Christ is furthered in ways that would not otherwise be possible. A believer far away can fulfill their calling because of the generosity and prayer of another. The sponsoring individual benefits from a broadened view of God's work, and of their own important role as a Christ follower.

Now it was time to expand on "What does a national worker do?" Here are some of the answers:

‑Pastoral teaching and preaching (often for more than one church)

Planting churches

‑Directing and staffing childcare centers

‑Writing and placing gospel ads in newspapers and magazines

Providing follow up to respondents

Holding Vacation Bible School sessions

‑Staffing children's summer camping programs

‑Training believers and future Christian leaders through seminary, Bible school and Bible correspondence courses

‑Providing disaster assistance

‑Broadcasting biblically based radio programs

That's when it occurred to me that I might still have a one-sided view of the relationship. While some are itinerant preachers, others are teachers, laborers, childcare workers, cooks, and bus drivers. Some needed full support for an all-the-time ministry. Others only needed limited or occasional help to finish school, to meet a ministry need, or for a particular project.

What they held in common was that "national workers" are Christian people responding to the Great Commission by devoting what they can do and what they like to do to the cause of Christ.

My brochure project overlooked the fact that I am also a "national worker." Don't worry. I'm not about to ask you to support me financially. Doing so would only perpetuate the stereotype. There is much more to it than that.

If we bear Christ's name, we ought also to respond to the Great Commission by devoting what we can do and what they like to do to the cause of Christ. If we are both believers, the difference between the fellow on the rickshaw in Indonesia and myself should only be our location-not our devotion to God's work.

This matter of following Christ is for any of us and for all of us who bear His Name. My (our) daily life and calling should be to bear witness of God's love and calling where we are. What the brochure promises a sponsor, our lives should promise to other believers-far and wide-as a testimony to God's work where he has placed me.

In my early years I sat through my missionary father's sermons until I could almost deliver them myself. The years have erased much of it by now, but one punch line remains.

He poured out his heart for the people of northern Argentina, reporting their victories and challenges, and calling on God's people in the US to continue to pray and give so believers in the other hemisphere might continue to grown in Christ. Then he added,

"You have just heard accounts of the courage, faith, service, and perseverance of your Christian brethren in North Argentina. I trust they have encouraged you and prompted you to continued faithfulness. My family and I will soon return to the field. What accounts of your courage, faith, service, and perseverance can I take back for their encouragement in their walk with God?"

A "national worker" is a Christian believer bearing witness to the Gospel among his or her own people through life and service. If that's the case, we are all included.

Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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