Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Do We Go To The Field

A number of issues will determine when we go.

1) Issues of Age

God calls very young children to be missionaries. Others hear the call to go as missionary much later in life. Just remember that God is always on time. Do we send children who are 7 or 17 years of age? Yes, at times (If accompanied by parents, then small children do become missionaries. i.e., Laura Bloodworth, Matt Womble, Lauren Davis, etc.) In my own case, I felt the burden for Africa at the age of 16. However, I did not even entertain the idea of going to another continent at that time. In fact, I did not arrive in Africa until much later at the age of 50! Be patient. You need time to be prepared for the ministry God calls you to. Be patient.

2) Issues of Qualifications

Requirements of the Church would include being a High School graduate; and hopefully some College. However, there are times when a person who does not have an academic background may have other experience that make them good candidates for service in some fields. Foreign Governments also have their own requirements which must be met before one can obtain a working visa which is required to live there. One government officer told me, "You must have skills not found in our own people. Why should we allow you to do what our own people can do?” These days, most governments prefer candidates with Doctoral degrees but will accept Master’s degrees if the person has the right skills and/or experiences.

3) Issues of support

One must not go to the field if he has to beg while on the field. He/She must not become an embarrassment to the Lord and the church. Going on faith alone is wonderful if God supplies. But saying "I have faith" is just not enough. There must be results that prove our faith. This is why in our system (Church of God, Cleveland, TN) that when a person cannot raise their initial support within six months they will be called into a meeting with the administration to discuss their case. One "faith-based" mission I know about had cards printed that advertised they were on the field strictly on faith. Their card said, “Mountain-Moving-Faith Missions”. But after six months these missionaries had to return to their home country because they could not pay their bills. Please understand that it does take faith to go to the field. There are historical examples of those who have gone with very little visible support (such as George Mueller) but most people do not have that kind of faith.

So, when you are old enough, qualified academically, and have the necessary financial support you will much more quickly receive the blessing and backing of your local church.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What is Missions

What is Missions?

The mission, the task, the job, the purpose for which Christ came into the world is a good place to start in our understanding of missions. It means that because Christ came on a mission into the world to save sinners, we go into the world to see sinners saved. Luke 19:10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He came to heal and to bind up wounds. He came to set at liberty them that are bruised. He performed miracles and instructed his disciples to heal the sick and cast out devils as they preached the gospel. John 3:17 "For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world, through Him, might be saved." Like Jesus, we are not to bring condemnation into the world (Lord knows we have enough of that already) but we are to "... Preach the gospel to the poor; ... heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Luke 4:18

I submit to you that Men and women can and do go into foreign countries and do good works and call themselves missionaries -- yet miss the real purpose of being a missionary. Missions is not taking a trip to a foreign land, seeing the exotic sights and observing the strange attire and behavior of the "natives". I do not mean to sound negative here about all the good things that people do in the name of missions, but missions is not the thrills that we feel when we are doing good works. Missions is not the noble acts of feeding the hungry, caring for orphans, giving to the poor. Missions is the mandate given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ: John 20:21 "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."

Please understand: I believe that ministry can be and is performed by teams of builders who go to foreign lands to help those who either do not have the funds or the skills to build a building. Yet, if they are not witnesses to the power of Jesus to save the lost then they are really only doing social work. Doctors and Nurses may be moved by the great need for medical attention that is so direly needed in foreign lands and out of humanitarian concerns may move to a foreign country to live and work in their profession. However, if they have no involvement in telling the story of Jesus and leading men and women to Christ, they are not missionaries. They are merely doing social/humanitarian work. What I am saying should in no way negate the importance of their great hearts as they give their energies to helping the less fortunate. They are moved with compassion and a desire to help with the physical needs they see. That is good – but that alone is not being a missionary.

The main thing is to win the confidence of a lost world so that one becomes a credible witness to the saving power of Jesus!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of Missions

Frances Brannen, Missionary in Kenya ca 1990
Frances organized all the children in her neigh-

borhood and had them play out the Christmas
In response to my last blog one of my daughters asked what happened with the sessions I did for the Lighthouse Church in Madisonville, Tennessee. Here I am going to share with you the notes I had made for teaching purposes - but will post it in segments in order to keep these thoughts brief.
1. Who is a Missionary?
2. What is Missions?
3. When does Missions begin?
4. Where does Missions take place?
5. Why does Missions take place?
6. How is Missions work done?
7. Who is a Missionary?

Lesson # 1

Pre-liminary Definition: A Missionary is one who moves from his home country to live and work in another country. His/Her primary purpose is to witness to and win others to the truth of the Gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved and have eternal life.
His/her Work may be the same as any Christian worker here at home.

A missionary is defined as a person who moves from his own country of residence to another country for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel. He is recognized by the Church and is supported by the church in his missionary endeavors. We limit the term missionary in the same way that we limit the use of other evangelical terms. For example: We call a man a “Pastor” if he leads a church. If he is a preacher but has no church for which he is responsible we call him an “Evangelist”. Now, a Pastor can and should do the work of an Evangelist. An Evangelist may act in the role of a Pastor or shepherd. He may find a bruised and battered sheep in his path, and pick up that weary soul, binding up wounds and lovingly holding and asking God for the healing of this sheep until the sheep is better and ready to walk again on his own.

Does a person have to be “called” to be a missionary? In light of Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19, every believer has “a call” to be a missionary. Yes, I believe that God does call certain individuals to certain places for certain tasks in these un-certain times. I’m fully aware that God gives individuals a “burden” or “desire” to be an Evangelist. To others he gives the desire to be a Pastor. To still another they feel complete and fulfilled with the joy of the Lord in serving the church by singing in the choir or teaching a Sunday School class. In other words, God gives them a “want to” to do what they do for His glory. They are happy in that role. I believe we all can function in other roles but we are more content when doing what we “want to” for the Lord.

Let me illustrate. While pastoring in Waynesboro, TN one of the older men whose wife and family had been members of the church for a long time came to the altar to ask the Lord to save him. He wept a puddle of tears on the altar. He was so intense in his prayer, so broken up inside his spirit for about thirty minutes that I just knew he was saved. However, when I asked him if he felt that he was now saved, he said, “No. I can’t get saved. I know that the Bible says that no man can be saved except the spirit of the Lord draws him.” Finally, I asked him, “Don’t you want to be saved?” His response was immediate and animated. “Of course, I do! I want to get saved more than anything else in the world, but I have to wait until the Spirit draws me.” I then asked, “What do you think makes you “want to”? Who do you think gave you that desire to be saved?”

Sadly – that night Quinton did not accept salvation because I was un-able to help him to understand that him wanting to be saved was the sign that God, the Holy Spirit, was “drawing” him. He did get saved much later. But at that moment he had trouble un-raveling the meaning of the Scriptures.

What I’m saying here is that if you develop an intense desire to go to a foreign field and do work for God that it is God who has given you the “want to”. The devil will certainly not call you or give you a desire to do anything for God. Also I’m saying that if you have the “want-to” you can go based on the call of Jesus to every disciple to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.” Compare Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15.

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton