Monday, September 24, 2012

When You Serve in a Support Role—Part 2

"Going into missions" had always been at the back of my mind throughout my university days and beyond. It started when a lady I'd met in chapel (who works for a missions organisation in the US) heard I was studying to be a teacher and suggested I teach on the field. Hmm, now there was an idea.

So I did what every missions-minded uni student did and went to Urbana. But I never went anywhere because God's timing is different from mine.

When I graduated from uni, God landed me at a missions-minded church near my home town. I still imagined that one day God would send me off to teach missionary kids somewhere.

Fast forward 4 years to when I met my husband who is—yup, a missionary in England (missionary dating anyone??). :)

To make a long story short, I'm now serving with my husband in England. But I'm not teaching missionary kids like I thought I would be. We serve in a different role from some missionaries. We serve in a support role. In a previous post, I wrote about serving in a support role as a wife and mother. My husband's and my role in our organisation is more or less behind the scenes, with my husband working in IT and myself writing Sunday School materials... but how is that being a missionary?

In the beginning days, I had a difficult time believing that what we do for our organisation is worthy of being supported by our friends and families. After all, we sit at a desk doing IT work or writing Sunday School materials... how is that "missions?"
Leon teaches an IT course so that others can do the IT stuff for their own fields
Think about it: Paul and Barnabas probably had support from their sending church. Without that support, Paul and Barnabas wouldn't be able to do their work as effectively. We work at the international headquarters, where a lot of services are provided for fields around the world. These services enable the rest of the missionaries to advance the Gospel! With the way people use modern technology, if people like my husband weren't working to better the IT systems and keep them running, ministry would probably not be as effective. Doing children's work would also be a lot more challenging without the people who write the materials.
We like have to have fun every once in a while (even if it's playing geeky vintage video games). :)
We're all a part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). We can all have different roles within the Body. Some of us are going to be better at teaching, preaching, etc, while others of us are going to be better at serving behind the scenes (Ephesians 4:11). This realisation has given me great freedom because I'm better at serving in the background rather than up front where everyone can see me.
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts."
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV)

Don't you just love how diverse the body of Christ is? Your role is important no matter how you serve! Now let's discuss. How do you serve in your ministry?


  1. I am a wife and mom. I serve the missionaries and guests to the field through hostessing, and leading weekly prayer meeting. I lead a small group of university women weekly. And I just started a expat ladies gathering once a month. Mostly it's serving those who serve. And I love it!

    1. Oh, I forgot about hospitality! We do a lot of that, too. So much fun!

  2. When we had kids, I first struggled that I wasn't "serving" in our ministry anymore. God's shown me that my role as wife and mom are first and foremost. God's also shown me that I don't have to be involved in the specific ministry that my husband is. (Bible Training school for national pastors and church leaders.) I've been able to develop a lot of opportunities for ministry among unbelievers and with children from the local Children's Home. The opportunities are all around to love on the lost, hurting and least of these.

  3. Great stuff, Chrysti! My ministry life is largely a support role too. Being a wife and mom of 3 (almost 4), the bulk of my energy goes to managing my home and raising our kids. I also disciple/train one of our new interns who is out on the "front lines" doing evangelism and discipleship. I like that I can help her be more effective when I really can't be out there doing what she does at this particular season. Like Kelly, I also help organize a monthly women's gathering for our staff women to help keep them encouraged. I strongly believe the healthier we are as missionaries, the more effective we'll be and the longer we'll last, thus I love getting to do this role even though it is very much behind the scenes and not visibly a fruitful part of our ministry. The only non-support ministry that I do is informal and within the relationships in my community, but from our employment standpoint, it doesn't actually "count" as our job.

  4. My daughter is the mother of 4. She told me the other day how she struggles when people look at her as "just a housewife" when she does her best to have an organized home and children who know and love God. Yet at the same time she has a ministry of encouragement. There's rarely a time when she doesn't come to church with a jar of salsa for a family, an extra casserole for a young working mother or a container of sugar coated nuts for a sunday school teacher. I love that we all have places to serve God.