Missional Family, Part 1

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“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near…Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:3-6 NASB

If walls could talk–the ones we, as a family, have dwelled within–they would probably tell you of the prayers, tears, conversations, and questions that have built the road we’ve walked to becoming a missionary family.

It’s been a journey for both of us that started in our teenage years, and one that we are still growing into daily.  To be honest, it wasn’t until this last month that the words “I’m a missionary” began to come comfortably out of my mouth.

But what does it even mean to be a family of missionaries?

To answer that question it might be helpful for me to share how Rick and I see the purpose of missions.  In my last post I shared my understanding that being a missionary is “to be sent by God.”  Most people immediately think of being sent to another nation to evangelize, teach, and serve; my start to missionary work began this way.  As I have grown in the Lord and in the Scriptures and began to allow the truth of the Word to dismantle the subtle pride that I carried (thinking that there wasn’t the same need for missionaries here, in the United States), my understanding of the role and function of a missionary has also grown.  

Now, before we get into topics of economic need and the socio-political realities in other nations that tend to define one’s perspective of whether or not mission work is needed in an area, let me share a passage that provided deep revelation and liberation to me in my pursuit of whole-hearted obedience to the Lord.  

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps 97:1). “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps 67:3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Ps 104:34, 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.

–John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993/2003), 17.

With John Piper’s words resounding in our minds, Rick and I have committed to live a fasted lifestyle as full-time, occupational intercessory missionaries.  As John pens in Revelation, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”  This priestly identity is the primary place from which we fuel missions.  We spend extended hours in prayer and supplication to strengthen the Bride of Christ, to fuel the work of the preaching and teaching of the gospel.  

The book of Acts sets the precedence for this model of corporate prayer fueling missions: “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went…” our family journey to missions followed the same pattern.

In the coming weeks I’ll share more about our journey (Rick might even share his two cents), but it was important for me to share our paradigm for missions before I shared our journey…I never want the work that we do or the lives that we lead to supercede the story that the Lord is telling in the earth.

Grace, grace to you all,

Thiersten

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