In May 2017, AFM sent another couple to the mission field. During the months and years leading up to their departure, John and Sarah (alias names) had felt a growing sense of God calling them to reach out to a particular unreached people group (UPG)*. Meanwhile, AFM had been praying for years that God would place such a call within individuals’ hearts to continue our existing ministry to this UPG. We praise God for His faithfulness in answering our prayers with John and Sarah’s call!
Responding to God’s call to live among a UPG is both simple and complex. The simplicity rests in merely saying “yes” to the Lord and following His lead to take care of the details. The complexity…all the details! John and Sarah kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of their faith- and their call- as they worked to fundraise, “friend-raise,” and prepare an entry strategy to a country that does not issue religious worker visas. And the Lord responded to their request for support- exceedingly, abundantly, more than they could ask or imagine.
One crucial component of AFM’s support infrastructure for our Cross-Cultural Workers (CCWs) is something we call a “Barnabas Team.” Scripture tells us that an early Christ-follower named Joseph, whom the Apostles called “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Encouragement”), not only sold a field to give to the church but also accompanied Paul on his first and (parts of) his second missionary journey.
Barnabas set an example of encouragement and support for Christ-followers as they step out into the Great Commission. Today, AFM uses Barnabas Teams to encourage and support our missionaries- financially, spiritually, emotionally, and beyond.
As part of their preparation to serve, John and Sarah formed a Barnabas Team made up of 13 members of their home church. These team members are friends and supporters of John and Sarah, and the diversity of their interests, ideas, gifts, ages, and abilities have all contributed to the success of their efforts to support John and Sarah’s “yes” to the Lord’s call. With the support of their Barnabas Team and the rest of their congregation, funding for the first year of their adventure was completed well before their departure. Vital prayer support has been gained through parishioners committing to pray on a specific day of the week during John and Sarah’s upcoming time among their people group. They will be bathed in prayer every day of the week!
In addition to the critical need for prayer and financial support, the Barnabas Team also helped John and Sarah with the logistics prior to their departure. Members of the team helped dress up their yard and landscaping, conduct a yard sale, pack up belongings for storage, clean the house, and other miscellaneous tasks. Barnabas Team members will also provide support for family members left behind and will continue to pray and seek funding needed for future years.
God is still calling Americans as cross-cultural workers to go to areas where there is no (or extremely limited) Christian presence, where you can’t go to church even if you want to because churches don’t exist for miles around.
But God’s call must be affirmed and supported through a local body of believers, the home (or sending) church. If you or your church would like to learn more about the nuts and bolts of supporting and caring for missionaries, please contact us. And please join AFM and John and Sarah’s Barnabas Team in praying for John and Sarah as they go to a people group of over one million people that has never had the message of Jesus’ saving love introduced to it.
*AFM does not write the names of UPGs or the names of our cross-cultural workers ministering among UPGs to protect the ministry and residency of our cross-cultural workers.