Carrying Through With Your Adoption
1. Strategic Prayer and Research Can Make The Difference
Prayer changes things. A church in California began to focus their prayers on an unreached people group called the "Sherpas", who live in the high Himalayan mountains of Nepal. During this time, Jesus appeared in a dream to a young Sherpa boy, which eventually led to the establishment of the very first Christian church amongst these people.
Learn about your adopted people group so that you and your church will be able to intercede effectively. As you begin to see God move, your faith will increase! Learning may necessitate trips to the library and some search time on the Internet. Find out about the culture of your adopted people group, their customs, language, traditions, beliefs, food, etc. See the Appendix for some suggested research aids.
As you learn about your adopted people, pray for them and arouse others to pray. Develop a prayer strategy. An effective prayer program will bring change not only among your unreached people group but also among other ministries of your church. Establish a regular prayer meeting. Arrange other special times of intercession for your adopted people. You could place prayer points in the church bulletin or design prayer inserts. "Sign up" church members to pray at a specific time during each day (e.g. 3 minutes at noon). Creatively include prayer for your adopted people in all your church meeting times (the Sunday service, cell group meetings, children's church, Sunday school, etc.).
Ask the YWAM missionaries to give you some prayer requests for their missionary work and their personal needs, as well as concerns for your adopted people. Ask if they know of any prayer tools that are currently available, like a people group profile, a video, or a prayer guide. If prayer resources are not available, you might consider a project of creating and distributing them.
2. Strategic Giving Can Make The Difference
Giving changes things. Consider the missionary work that is being done among your adopted people group. If the missionaries are doing medical work, perhaps they could use medicines. If they are doing radio broadcast, perhaps they need recording equipment.
Ask your YWAM contact person to suggest possible equipment the team could use for evangelism, logistics, and administration. Consider things like a fax machine, computer, team vehicle, video projector, cassette tape duplicator, furniture, or appliances.
Maybe your church would want to free the missionaries from the time consuming and difficult task of raising ministry and personal support. There are no central funds or salaries provided in YWAM. Every ministry and missionary must raise its own. Normally a ministry center has regular monthly expenses such as building rent and electricity. Individuals need income for training, food, and housing.
Consider a gift of evangelism tools for your missionary team (Bibles, tracts, Christian literature in the people group's language; the JESUS movie or other evangelistic videos; Bible portions or messages on cassette). If they are not already available, perhaps your church could help sponsor the production of these evangelism tools.
Some churches give to their adopted unreached people group ministry by designating a portion of the church's general or missions budget towards this work. Giving will increase as church members are motivated to reach out to the unevangelized.
Burmese Christians put aside one handful of rice as they prepare dinner and bring it weekly to be sold at the local market. All of the proceeds go towards their missions. Your church could do something like this by distributing decorated cans to each family in which to place their loose change every day. Then the change could be brought weekly to a specified receptacle at the church.
A proven method for fund raising is to have the church families make faith promises to contribute monthly. Others churches take up "special offerings" on a regular basis.
A Tongan fellowship found that growing and selling watermelons was very effective. They raised US$9,000 to send a missionary team to India. In Mexico they make and sell tacos. All over the world churches have found that selling things (e.g. books, candy, crafts) or selling services (e.g. car washes, yard work) have made an impact in world missions.
Create openings for God to touch an individual church member by listing "giving opportunities" in your church bulletin or posting them on the bulletin board.
3. Strategic Sending Can Make The Difference
A. Short term
Sending short-term workers changes things. A church team visited a Muslim people group that they had adopted in Indonesia. Upon entering a village for the first time, they came upon a crippled man and ask if they could pray for him in the name of Jesus. He agreed and the team prayed. While praying the man, who turned out to be the village chief, leaped up and begin running around telling the whole village to bring out all the sick so that they could be healed. The team prayed for these others and they, too, were healed.
Consider the possibility of sending someone, preferably a church leader, to "see the land". They could establish relationships with YWAM missionaries and minister to them, research, pray "on-site", film a promotional video, and/or take photographs. Send church members to visit or work in your adopted mission field that are able to communicate what they have seen to others back home.
Your church could also send a Short Term Outreach team, if this is feasible. This must be done wisely and in consideration of the long-term goals of the missionary team. Church teams have done medical or dental clinics, construction projects, prayer walks, etc. Many areas are open to hosting teams while some may not be able to because of security concerns.
B. Long term
Sending long-term workers changes things. Call for missionaries for your adopted Unreached People Group and expect the best of your people to go!! Ask the YWAM team what kind of skills would be helpful and recruit workers specifically to fulfill these. Send your potential missionary candidates to appropriate training. The YWAM team will advise you on what type of training is necessary to join them as a career, long-term worker. Make training specific to what is needed for your entry strategy.
Youth With A Mission is the parent organization of The University of the Nations (U of N). This Christian university was founded specifically to train people who are preparing to go as missionaries. The University of the Nations is training candidates from over 100 nationalities in courses offered in over 80 nations. We believe training should be applicable in real-life situations, and therefore, we include field assignments with cross-cultural experiences for every student. We offer many helpful schools like the School of Frontier Missions to train church planters, schools of community development, radio, primary health care, and others.
Find out what the requirements are for sending your worker to your missionary team before this person begins training so as to avoid unnecessary studies.
The Discipleship Training School (DTS) is the doorway to our organization. This training course consists of a 3-month classroom phase followed by a 2-3 month cross-cultural field experience. The DTS is offered at over 200 locations in many different languages (even Swahili!). This program would be an excellent step for any of your church members who are considering a career in missions and is the only required course for joining YWAM.
If a church that is partnering with us is able to send an entire missionary team from their church to their adopted people, we will be glad to facilitate this as we would for any single member of your fellowship.
4. Strategic Care Can Make The Difference
Caring care can change things. The name "Barnabas" actually means "Son of Encouragement". Perhaps there are people in your church who could have a "Barnabas" ministry. The ministry of encouragement is much needed in the mission field of today. Reaching the unreached involves people -- people who often live in stressful and difficult circumstances. Just knowing that someone cares may make the difference between a missionary staying on or leaving the field.
An encourager may have a pastoral or counseling gift that could be used in ministry to the Christian workers in your adopted people group. They may visit the workers annually, establishing relationship and ministering to their personal needs. Ministry can also happen long-distance by sending good books, message and worship cassettes, or even videos.
Field workers can be encouraged through communications. A group of church members could set up a rotating schedule of letter writing, remembering holidays and the birthdays of the missionaries. Add interest to letters by including photos, drawings, cartoons, etc. Perhaps a surprise phone call would cheer your field team. Maybe e-mail, fax, and/or ham radio are usable means of communication.
An encourager may have the gift of helps or service. This could be used in helping missionaries with personal business that is difficult for them to do from far away. This may include things like copying and mailing out their newsletters, receiving their support checks and depositing them into their bank account, or ordering a needed school book for their child.
Encouragement could also come through the gift of hospitality. This could entail helping homecoming missionaries with logistics like airport pick-ups, places to stay, meals, and transportation. Another service could be arranging speaking opportunities or travel schedules for them. It may simply mean a warm welcome and a listening ear!
5. Strategic Advocating Can Make The Difference
Advocating can change things. An advocate is one who pleads another's case or who speaks or writes on behalf of another. Hopefully within your church, your Coordination team and many others will take up the banner of bringing your adopted people group clearly into the vision of the congregation.
These advocates might set up a display using pictures, maps, and artifacts in your church's lobby or meeting hall. Develop skits to bring an aspect of their people group to life during a church meeting. Hosts a "People Group Dinner" with ethnic foods, wear traditional costumes, or make and distribute bookmarks. The idea is to do whatever will help others catch the vision of evangelizing a people group who does not know Jesus Christ. Remember to involve families, organizing activities for the children and youth. Perhaps an "Adoption Renewal Service" or "Anniversary Celebration" will help your congregation to not forget its commitment.
Advocate beyond the walls of your own church. Broaden your team get others to help. Ask other churches to adopt with you. Develop a presentation about your people group and your vision to reach them. This could be used to speak to others about joining with you in this quest, or sent to others who would like to help in raising prayer, finances, and workers to go to this ethnic group. You can attend mission conferences or host one. When you find others who are interested, continue to network with them and encourage one another.
As a people group advocate you might consider receiving more training in this area through books, videos, mission classes, seminars, or a YWAM training program specifically designed for advocates.
6. Strategic Caution Can Make The Difference
Caution can change things. The very first followers of Jesus who went out to share the Good News found themselves as lights going out into a very dark world. However, many rejected the message of Jesus coming to reconcile men to God. The Christian messengers and the early church were criticized and persecuted. Many believers were thrown to the lions in the Roman arenas, dying a gruesome death for their faith. Surprisingly, there are more Christian martyrs today than there have been at any other time in history.
We believe that Adopt-A-People is a strategy that our Lord has given to His Church to complete the task of evangelizing the uttermost part of the earth. However, it is critical that we proceed in wisdom and caution so as not to jeopardize the very results we seek to help produce. We who live where there is freedom to worship God openly are obligated to realize that in many Unreached People Groups this is simply not the case. Unreached People Groups are unreached for a reason.
Because of this, in Youth With A Mission, we defer to our missionary teams on the field to decide their level of interaction with visitors at their location. For example, while a visiting medical outreach team is often a very beneficial ministry, if the mere presence of a group of foreigners arouses suspicion or anger, then it obviously would not prosper the long term effort. It could actually impede the work.
In certain people groups we may need to have a spokesperson to communicate on behalf of any missionaries in the field. Sometimes this person is called a "Strategy Coordinator" or as a group a "Homefront team". They would normally be trained missionaries who work to network resources towards an unreached people group. This person(s) will be able to assist your church, particularly when your adopted people group is located in a high-risk security zone.