Investing in Missionaries’ Lives

In her article, “Some Reflections on Pastoral Care,” Belinda Ng writes, “While missionary pastoral care may mean different things to different people, it generally encompasses the following elements: understanding the special needs of missionaries, guidance, counseling, sharing, communicating, friendship, fellowship, visitation, crisis care, prayers, encouragement, and affirmation. …” (William Taylor, ed., Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition, William Carey Library, Pasadena, 1997, p. 277). From this list of elements, it is evident that pastoral care of missionaries requires study of and sensitivity to the needs of missionaries as well as interaction and openness to involvement in their lives. Ng asks, “How do we provide appropriate and adequate on-going pastoral care to ensure that those sent out remain on the field for as long as possible to fulfill their call to missions?” (ibid.)

The context of Belinda Ng’s article is the problem of missionary attrition, missionaries leaving the field. Her question is one with which we continually concern ourselves here at Siloam Missionary Homes. Our interest is not only in providing for missionaries’ housing needs temporarily, but also in how we might undergird their commitment to their original call to serve the Lord as missionaries. No doubt, God redirects people’s lives, but we see a number of missionaries who don’t return to the field for a variety of preventable factors. Ultimately, of course, the next step in ministry is between the missionaries and God, but how can pastoral care be a positive influence and encouragement at a time when a “word fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) might be the catalyst for arriving at a right decision?

What we really are talking about is Christians caring for Christians in the Body of Christ, the Church, but with a special emphasis on the particular “category” of “missionary,” one sent by the Church. As Kelly O’Donnell says, “Member care is the ongoing investment of resources by mission agencies, churches, and other mission organizations for the nurture and development of missionary personnel. It focuses on everyone in missions (missionaries, support staff, children, and families) and does so over the course of the missionary life cycle, from recruitment through retirement. Member care is also the responsibility of everyone in missions—sending church, mission agency, fellow workers, and member care specialists” (Doing Member Care Well, William Carey Library, Pasadena, 2002, p. 4)

True sending churches realize they must do more than send money to keep missionaries on the field. They recognize the need to be involved personally in the lives of the missionaries whom they support. They learn about and provide care in areas besides financial, while at the same time, meeting financial needs, which they know is essential.

While Siloam Missionary Homes is not a sending agency per se, we want to do our part in cooperating with the church and “everyone in missions” to provide “member care” for the missionaries while they are living here. Please pray for us, give financially and give your time and effort as a volunteer to help with the many tasks on site here at Siloam. Please continue to help us help missionaries that we may be an encouragement to them to “keep on keeping on.” Also, pray about and look for ways that you can care for and invest in the lives of missionaries in your circle of influence.

H. Milton Wilder

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Our Partnership of Obedience

Siloam Missionary Homes, the Staff and the missionaries who come to stay here all depend on God to provide the financial support needed to fulfill the ministry to which He has called us. We depend on the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the followers of Christ — individual Christians, churches, organizations, businesses — inspiring them to give. They give because they believe in obeying the mandate of Jesus Christ to reach around the world with His gospel. They give because they have a special care for and interest in Siloam’s ministry or the ministry of a particular missionary or field of service. Many Christians give very generously and even sacrificially because they want to see the Word go out into the world and want to make sure the needs of the workers are met.

This is a demonstration of how God works through people. Isn’t it amazing and such a blessing to realize what God accomplishes through us as His people when we work together to obey His call and fulfill His purpose? Just as He called Abraham or the disciples, He has called us. He calls us to pray, give and go, each according to the gifts, abilities and prosperity He has given us. Some of us are able to give large amounts, others give small amounts comparatively, as the Lord blesses. Combining the gifts meets the needs. Some of us can go around the world personally to take the message of Christ. Some of us can go locally with His message. All of us can provide prayer support for each other in our partnership of obedience to the Commission of our Lord. He has called us to unite in being His witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Together, we serve in all these representative places at the same time to fulfill our call as His servants and messengers.

Thank you who have become our partners in helping to provide “a place for missionaries to call home.” Let us continue to pray for one another and work together as the Body of Christ.

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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A war to win the world

A war to win the world has been raging for centuries. It is a war between the forces of Jesus Christ and the forces of Satan. Satan thought he won when Jesus gave up His life on the cross, but the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ proved otherwise. After His resurrection, Christ’s fearful followers emerged from hopeless disappointment to become the Holy Spirit empowered warriors sent with God’s love into battle. Their weapon was the Word of God, which they used to make disciples, baptize and teach in Jesus’ name, going as He sent them with the assurance that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:19-20).

The war to win the world is a war fought for and within the hearts and minds of people everywhere. It is a war waged not primarily against atheists, but between religions and believers in Jesus Christ. Satan has used the innate need that all peoples have to worship, to lure them into devising false religions and distorted forms of worship (Romans 1:21-23). These religions teach various means of appeasing a superior being or beings or in some way earning the right to receive rewards of assorted kinds in the afterlife. Because of the profound differences between religions and Christianity, a clash is inevitable. In religions, people put forth great effort in attempting to reach what they call God, while the followers of Christ teach the truth that the only true God has come into the world to reach us in Jesus Christ to offer eternal life in Him.

Those who live for Christ face opposition from many religions. Other religions persecute believers in Christ simply because of their faith in Him. They terrorize Christ’s followers and try to force them with guns, machetes or other means to denounce Christ and convert to their religion. When they refuse, they burn their homes, torture them and kill them, often with the approval of those who could otherwise prevent these atrocities. What kind of religions are these? They destroy churches, confiscate and burn Bibles and no one apologizes. How must we react? With what weapons must we fight?

It is right for our government to stand strong against Islamic terrorism, fighting it with all means to prevent it from taking over our country and the world. It is right for us as Christ to stand strong against false religions to prevent them from taking over the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world. We cannot simply rant and rave against their beliefs as I often hear. Nor can we try to be “politically correct” or “tolerant” toward them in the sense of accepting everybody’s beliefs as equally true and valid. In spite of what they believe, God’s word calls us to love them, even as our enemies, as He loves them.

We must remember what Paul said in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The war for hearts and minds is a spiritual war, not a war against people. We fight against spiritual forces of wickedness and our weapons are the Sword of the Word of God and Prayer. Our prayer is “that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). We win through the gospel of Christ piercing the hearts and minds of those without Him.

That’s why we need to continue to support every mission effort we can to win the world for Christ, not to dominate politically or otherwise, but to free people from slavery to sin and enable them to have the gift of eternal life. This is the gift they can never earn, never gain any other way, except through Jesus Christ; “‘there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:12). Our missionaries are declaring the Name of Jesus to adherents of all religions as well as to those who claim no religion. We can use guns and bombs to deter the advance of terrorists and other evil people, but more will come. The only way to change their actions is to change their hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

The government spends billions on weapons of war to defeat our enemies while the followers of Christ have the weapons of God’s Word — the Bible — and Prayer that produce lasting results, but small resources to send out Christ’s “soldiers” to use them. Our part is to pray, give and go through the door that God opens for His word (Acts 14:27, Colossians 4:3-4) to share His love as He told us to, and to equip others to go in His name. This is not a time to cut back on missions giving, regardless of the economic conditions. If the times demand more frugal living and reducing expenses, then we must find ways that do not fall into Satan’s trap of hindering the essential task of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Cutting Missionary Support — A Serious Matter

Nobody “pays” missionaries to go and take the gospel to people who need to hear of the salvation available in Jesus Christ. Missionaries go in obedience to the calling of God who has saved them and they desire to share His truth and saving power with those who have not received Him. Although true missionaries do not fulfill their calling for pay, it is necessary that they receive financial support in order to live and serve.

In contemplating a conversation I had with a missionary recently, I realize that there is some “injustice” in the Christian community. The Scripture indicates that Christians are responsible to other Christians who give themselves to serve as missionaries. Paul is a prime example. Another is John, writing to Gaius about those “who went out for the sake of the name” saying “we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 5-8). Also, Galatians 6 reminds us that we should “bear one another’s burdens” and “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (vv 2, 10).

The missionary I talked with, now in the States away from the field, uncertain as to the future area where he and his family will serve, must continue to live and provide for his family. During this interim period, he has sensed that God would have him receive seminary education to enhance his ability to carry out his work as a missionary. Because of problems over which he had no control that developed on the field and because he is not actively serving on the field, several churches have dropped the family’s monthly support. (This is kicking the missionary when he’s down.) Now he has taken a part-time job, which reduces the time he needs for study and for contacting other sources for financial support. It is difficult also to raise support without knowing exactly where the next assignment will be. Have you faced a predicament such as this?

In short, now is when churches and individual Christians should come to the aid of this family, rather than cutting off support in their time of special need. Sometimes Christians act on hearsay and rumors (and the economy!) without a clear appraisal of matters and what the personal impact will be. Having pastored a missions minded church for many years and knowing that churches have missions policies, I also know that it is not possible for a policy to cover every conceivable situation. I also know that churches should administer any policy with compassion and concern for the missionaries under their care who are sincerely seeking to serve in a responsible manner. It is a serious step to cut a missionary’s support and it should not be taken without consultation with the missionary and much prayer.

I relate this story as only one example of the difficulties in which missionaries sometimes find themselves. I have talked with other missionaries in similar situations where believers need to come along side of the missionaries, help them bear their burdens, encourage them, support them and truly become “fellow workers with the truth.” They need our love, understanding and empathy, our tangible, practical help and prayer that they “will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Serving at Siloam – The Wilders’ Newsletter – September 2011

Click on the link to read news of the Wilder’s Pastoral Ministry to the Missionaries. If you would like to join Milton & Betty’s email list, please click the Contact Us Menu and fill in your information. Note in Comment section to “Add me to the list. ”

SMH M&B Siloam NL, 09-2011 – Web

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How Do You Measure Sin?

A number of years ago, an area newspaper published a survey wanting to know “what you think about sin.” The survey asked “which…do you consider sinful?” and listed such things as drinking alcohol, using tobacco, dancing, cursing, not going to church, being homosexual, etc. The paper also asked readers to rank the Ten Commandments in order of importance and the “seven deadly sins” in order of sinfulness, along with a question: “What is sin?”

As I read the “Sin Survey,” I wondered if some people would actually use the results of the survey as a guideline to determine their own conduct. That may appear farfetched, but people have been using that approach for years — emulating what they think the majority are doing. I also wondered what standard most people would use to measure sinfulness or to rank a sin’s severity. How many would consider the Bible their source and final authority?

Our society continues a steady departure from and indifference to the Biblical foundation of laws and morality. Nine Supreme Court Justices can decide five to four what is legally “right” and “wrong” without precedent or appeal to any higher authority and their ruling becomes the law of the land. Even church organizations are deciding “right” and “wrong” by majority vote rather than by the Word of God. This applies not only where Scripture does not give explicit direction, but even where the Bible speaks clearly, a majority can overrule. This is not new. Twenty years ago, a committee of a major denomination stated that “the historical distance between twentieth century Christians and first century Christians is too great for us ‘to borrow…their conclusions [meaning what is written in the Bible] about human sexuality'” (quoted in Christianity Today, 5/27/91, p.15).

This kind of thinking began much earlier than twenty years ago. Francis Schaeffer wrote in How Should We Then Live: “In the days of a more Christian culture, a lone individual with the Bible could judge and warn society, regardless of the majority vote, because there was an absolute by which to judge. There was an absolute for both morals and law. But to the extent that the Christian consensus is gone, this absolute is gone as a social force” [(Fleming H. Revell, 1976), p. 250]. When majority vote rather than appeal to the Bible as the authoritative Word of God determines morality and law, then it can become “right” to kill unwanted or defective babies, old people, the incurable, engage in any kind of sexual practice or do anything else the majority who are given the power, decide.

I said all the above to say that the drift of the church away from the Bible as the authoritative word of God has a negative impact on world evangelization. It is a basic reason that missionaries and mission agencies struggle to find the financial support to take the gospel to the world. Jesus spoke clearly about the responsibility He left for His Church to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-20), but many who claim the name of Christ disregard the authority of His word. Since the Word is not absolute, diversity, tolerance, inclusiveness and relativism lead “Christians” to reject the truth Jesus spoke in John 14:6: “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” Why evangelize the world for Jesus if other religions have the way, the truth and the life? When people deny one truth of the Bible, the rest gradually erodes away in their minds.

Christians give other reasons for not making known the gospel message of the crucified, buried and resurrected Savior who paid the death penalty for the sins of the world. Let me then add another question to the “sin survey”: Not to be involved in making Jesus Christ’s disciples of all the nations – is that a sin?

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Bring What We Have to Jesus

The only miracle of Jesus that all four Gospel writers record is the one we call the Feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-14). While the miracle has many aspects of truth that we can apply to our life and relationship with Jesus, I will mention only two or three.

Within the huge multitude of people that day, Jesus’ disciples found a small boy who had brought five loaves of bread and two fish to eat. When they gave that small quantity of food to Jesus, He multiplied it so that there was enough to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. This was a great miracle.

The most obvious application of this event is that we must bring what we have to Jesus and let Him take it and transform it and multiply it to meet the needs that arise. Within that particular application of the miracle, we should recognize that He could have fed the multitude without the boy’s bread and fish. After all, He created the world ex nihilo, out of nothing. However, He wants us to trust Him enough to give Him what we have and allow Him to use it for His glory.

That’s how we operate at Siloam Missionary Homes. We know that we can’t do the work without Him. We don’t have enough resources ourselves, but Jesus takes what people give and multiplies it and transforms it to supply the needs of the missionary families who come to us for housing. We ask people to give what they can to Jesus for Him to do the work at Siloam, which He has been doing for over 19 years.

Like feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, the need sometimes seems impossible to meet, but over and over we see at Siloam how God continues to do what to us seems impossible. If left up to us, many things are impossible. The Word of God, however, reminds us “all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).

The miracle emphasizes that we must not look only for human resources to provide solutions. We must not look only at the problem, but at the Problem Solver. Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), is the One who provided yesterday and today. He will continue to provide, many times in miraculous ways, from unexpected sources and resources day by day and at just the right time.

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Miracles at Siloam

God has been working miracles at Siloam Missionary Homes since its beginning over 19 years ago. But, when thinking about miracles that I have seen since becoming a part of Siloam Missionary Homes, my first thought focused on the Lord’s provision of a house for Betty and me. We wanted to find a house within about a five-mile radius of Siloam and Linda Hagood, our Real Estate Agent, patiently showed us quite a few! But just as the time for finding one was becoming critical, the Lord provided a house only three-tenths of a mile from Siloam’s driveway. Although we knew it would require a great amount of renovation, it was the one we had wanted from the beginning, a foreclosure, but could not get a price quote. Not only was it across the road from where we would be working, but we were able to purchase the house and three acres of land for a little more than half the amount owed the mortgage company! Amazing! God’s work!

I have seen the Lord work in many miraculous ways at Siloam, both in supplying the needs for the SMH ministry as well as for the missionary families. I saw several miracles take place in just one family who lived here for a year. I witnessed the Lord provide a van to fit their size family, a gift from someone who came forward at just the right time. Then, as the time came for them to return to their field of service, they were able to sell the van, which enabled them to purchase a car for their daughter who remained in the states to attend college. I saw the college allow her to register as an in-state student, although she had lived in the state for only 11 of the required 12 months. The Lord also graced the daughter with a wonderful Christian family to welcome her to live in their home and who treats her like a daughter. God also provided the funds for tickets for the rest of the family to return to the field, including the payment to check their bags! (In the words of the late Jerry Clower, “Ain’t God Good?!”)

These are just a “sampling” of how God is working everyday. Perhaps all of us will see more of the miraculous movement and provisions of God when we keep our physical eyes open and our spiritual eyes focused on Him every day.

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Thinking about Miracles

When thinking about miracles that I have seen since becoming a part of Siloam Missionary Homes, my first thought focused on the Lord’s provision of a house for Betty and me. We wanted to find a house within about a five-mile radius of Siloam and Linda Hagood, our Real Estate Agent, patiently showed us quite a few! But just as the time for finding one was becoming critical, the Lord provided a house only three-tenths of a mile from Siloam’s driveway. Although we knew it would require a great amount of renovation, it was the one we had wanted from the beginning, a foreclosure, but could not get a price quote. Not only was it across the road from where we would be working, but we were able to purchase the house and three acres of land for a little more than half the amount owed the mortgage company! Amazing! God’s work!

I have seen the Lord work in many miraculous ways at Siloam, both in supplying the needs for the SMH ministry as well as for the missionary families. I saw several miracles take place in just one family who lived here for a year. I witnessed the Lord provide a van to fit their size family, a gift from someone who came forward at just the right time. Then, as the time came for them to return to their field of service, they were able to sell the van, which enabled them to purchase a car for their daughter who remained in the states to attend college. I saw the college allow her to register as an in-state student, although she had lived in the state for only 11 of the required 12 months. The Lord also graced the daughter with a wonderful Christian family to welcome her to live in their home and who treats her like a daughter. God also provided the funds for tickets for the rest of the family to return to the field, including the payment to check their bags! (In the words of the late Jerry Clower, “Ain’t God Good?!”)

These are just a “sampling” of how God is working everyday. Perhaps all of us will see more of the miraculous movement and provisions of God when we keep our physical eyes open and our spiritual eyes focused on Him every day.

H. Milton Wilder
Missionary Pastoral Care

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Working for the Lord Rather Than for Men

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:23-24).

One thing that means a great deal to me as I serve in Missionary Pastoral Care at Siloam Missionary Homes is the great attitude of the staff. It is very satisfying and enjoyable to work with people who want to do what they do. They see their work, not as drudgery or as just a job, but as the true ministry that it is. No one forces them to carry out their responsibilities. They do so, even when the going gets difficult at times. They work because they have a distinct desire to see this ministry with which God has entrusted them grow and develop as God directs and fulfill the purpose of providing “A Place Missionaries Call Home.”

The volunteers who come to serve at Siloam also come with good attitudes. What I appreciate about the volunteers especially is that they are, well, volunteers. No one tells them they must come and help us with the work at Siloam. They come because they want to be involved “hands-on” in providing for the needs of missionaries. We not only have work teams from churches and organizations in the local area, like Burlington, Graham, Mebane, Gibsonville, Chapel Hill, Siler City and Greensboro, to name a few, but also from other areas of North Carolina, as well as from Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Connecticut. What a blessing to us at Siloam that people are voluntarily coming from a few miles and from hundreds of miles to give their time, energy and resources and they come with a servant attitude. They see the value of the ministry at Siloam and do their work for the Lord. From the Lord they will receive their reward.

Wouldn’t the environment of all our work places be much more pleasant if everyone lived by Colossians 3:23-24?

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