Missionaries & Furlough

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Ulsterman, Sep 17, 2002.

  1. Ulsterman

    Ulsterman
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    What Pastor would ever leave his church for ten to fourteen months to visit other churches? None, I should imagine. Yet this is exactly what is required of missionaries (I speak as an IFB) who have little or none of the practical back up and support available in their supporting churches at home. Should there not be a huge overhaul of the "furlough" system, which exhausts the missionary, and often damages fledgling churches (particularly in places like Western Europe)? Should not mission boards be petitioned to come up with a better approach, and churches educated to leave the missionary on the field as long as possible, without the unnecessary and expensive requirement to reappear at their missions conferences every four years or so?
     
  2. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    That is one of the major problems with Independant Baptist missionary groups.

    The SBC clearly is doing it the best.
     
  3. Ulsterman

    Ulsterman
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    How do the SBC handle it?
     
  4. Daniel David

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    They go away and come home on for a time just like the IBs do. The difference though is that it isn't as burdensome to the individual churches or the missionary. The SBC as an organization takes care of most of that stuff.

    BTW, I do not like some aspects of the SBC missions program. Overall though, I think it is best.

    I assumed you were referring to the financial burden of everything. In that respect, the SBC is superior.

    As far as furlough, all missions agencies deal with this. I do not understand furlough. It seems that a person comes back for every issue. They are foreign pastors in a foreign place. If that is their calling, they shouldn't be coming home as much.
     
  5. Ulsterman

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    Actually I am concerned primarily for the churches and fellowships left behind on the mission field whilst their pastors go on furlough. Often the missionary cannot find a suitable stand in, sometimes another missionary stands in, but this prevents continuity of ministry. Babes in Christ are left pastorless, or getting to know the new man, which in itself is problematic given he will be leaving at the end of a year or so. Often missionaries return from furlough to find their small group has been decimated or disappeared altogether!! Then the blame game begins & usually the stand in gets the blame for "destroying my work." The real blame, I think, lies with the system.

    Don't you think it would be better for churches to send their pastors and/or other chosen representatives to the mission field, that way they can see first hand what's going on, the home pastor only has to be gone one or two weeks, each year and the missionary gets to stay with his flock? Or, perhaps mission boards could arrange for groups of pastors to visit missionaries in a given locality? Then periodically the missionary could return home for much shorter periods, for a proper furlough, in which he can visit his sending church, family & friends.

    I get the impression from IFB missionaries in the British Isles that prior to furlough they spend endless hours trying to arrange meetings in churches where the pastor will have them because they are going to be in the area, but not because they necessarily want to see them. Perhaps the onus should be placed upon the home pastors to make contact with the missionary and not vice versa.

    I know some will point to Paul’s returning to Antioch as a proof of the modern furlough practice - but Antioch was just one church!! Paul did not go on a missionary journey and then report to 80 churches!! The whole system seems to be a nonsense.

    So, whilst the modern missionary visits anywhere between 50-100 churches giving a report, the church on the field is suffering and possibly even dying. The missionary returns to the field exhausted, having to spend months resettling into his home and adopted country, missionary kids being moved from schooling in the US back to home schools or the school system in their host nation, and on top of all that he must, in the most extreme cases, begin his church planting effort all over again, his previous four years or so being flushed down the drain! It seems to me home pastors don’t think about this. The whole thing is self defeating, a terrible waste of time, talent and money.
     
  6. Ernie Brazee

    Ernie Brazee
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    Our missionaries aren't pastors. They win men ,train them, and turn the work over to them, then return for furlough.

    Churches are to trust the Lord, not the missionary. If a church fails when the missionary leaves, he did a poor job of training them to trust God.

    Years ago it was neccessary for American missionaries to leave Ethiopia. The ones that trained the pastors well, returned years later to find the churches doing better than when they left. Imagine that! [​IMG]
     
  7. Ulsterman

    Ulsterman
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    My question for you then, brother Ernie is this, if a missionary has faithfully laboured for four or five years, and for all his effort only has a handful of people, for the sake of argument 5 women and one man who is saved six months, should he be required to return on furlough, or would you agree that he should stay on the field until he has a church established. The present system calls him home every four years or so, no matter what. Is that right? Should that policy not be abandoned in favour of one which actually allows the missionary adequate time, depending upon the culture he is in, to produce an autonomous, indigenous work with its own sufficiently trained pastor. If a missionary wrote to you explaining such a situation would you excuse him from furlough? That is the situation many missionaries in the British Isles and Western Europe find themselves in? Are you suggesting these men are poor missionaries, that the mission boards should call them home. Certainly churches are to trust the Lord and not missionaries, but the same could be said of churches and their pastors. Would a pastor leave his more mature congregation for a year, and expect to come back and resume where he left off? I think not. Would a church be happy to trust the Lord for a year without any Pastor or an inadequate substitute? Are missionary pastors dispensable, but not home church pastors?
     
  8. tlange

    tlange
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    The mission board that I worked at for three years had a very unique and innovative furlough policy. The furlough was determined by the missionary and with subsequent counsel with the mission board administration. There were some exceptions because of visa requirements etc. But for the most part, the missionary determined his own furlough.

    There is a trend among some IFB missionaries not to take a full year furlough, but rather a two-three month furlough. Most of the missionaries that I know that are pastors of military churches could not take a full year furlough due to rotations and reassignments. If they left their church for a year, they would have a completely different one, if they had one at all, when they returned!
     
  9. Karen

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    From what I have seen, SBC missionaries are not required to come home to report. But they often want to come home. Four years is a long time to be away from family and from some other Christian support. A year enables the kids to be in school for a full period instead of patchwork attendance in a couple of places. Often medical and dental work is needed that is not available overseas.

    I am glad that in the SBC system, although missionaries speak in different churches on furlough, they have time for rest and study instead of a frantic visitation schedule.
    Also, the foreign mission board is a big enough organization to be able to cope with gaps when a missionary is gone.

    It is true, though, that the mission board is recruiting far more short-term missionaries.
    Used to be only that you were a seminary graduate called to Africa for 40 years.
    Now there are all sorts of 2-year projects for high school teachers, retired carpenters, etc.

    Karen
     
  10. Ernie Brazee

    Ernie Brazee
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    DMoore,

    This is one reason for local churches sending missionaries instead of boards. The missionary communicates with the pastor as to when he feels the Lord would have him to return.

    Presently our missionaries return more often than four or five years. We have two families at present that try to return at least every two years. There is a practical reason for this as their children have returned to the US. This is so they can have family time together. Missionaries are not to forget families, the Lord extablished the family before the church thus there is a priority. They also visit supporting churches at thsi time. This program is working very well for our missionaries.

    This time we sent one of ous assistant pastors to replace the missionary. This is a first so we will see how it works out.
     
  11. Ulsterman

    Ulsterman
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    It is much better that local churches are involved with the missionaries they send rather than abrogating responsibility to missions boards. (I have doubts about the place of mission boards from a Scriptural standpoint) I think the idea of a church sending its assistant pastor for the duration of furlough is a great one!!
     
  12. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    I agree with others on this board that many independent groups struggle far more than SBC missionaries do. For one thing, the funding stream to SBC missionaries is not dependent upon a periodic deputation trip back to the states. SBC missionaries are able to spend far more time with family and home church than most independents.

    Concerning the work on the field, SBC missionaries have signficant resources available to use in building an on field support team so that the work can continue in their absence. Within the last 10 years or so, SBC missionaries have been focusing on developing native pastors and churches so that the work is not dependent upon the missionary.

    Oh, and SBC missionaries are commissioned by both their home church and by the SBC board (which is only a larger cousin to the type of joint support that multiple independent churches frequently attempt in our area).
     
  13. Ernie Brazee

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    We have been sending missionaries out from our church since the 70s without a mission board. There is no “struggle”. God provides very well.

    As far as resources, no board has more resources than the Lord. He has provided very well for those missionaries we support. Whenever there has been a need it has been met. Deputation is a learning process for the missionary, they learn to look to the Lord for their needs and enjoy the blessing of seeing how he can provide. This also prepares them to teach the new works how to trust the Lord for their needs, not some board.

    In South Africa there are churches who have been able to build their own buildings, and support their pastor. These are poor people, the poorest in this country would be wealthy there, yet they are able to have their needs met. There is one lady with five children, she is unemployed, there is no welfare system, but her needs are met. Praise the Lord we serve a great God.

    NO, there is no need for boards, just local churches ding what God called them to do. When the missionary does his part in obeying god, God will take care of the rest.

    To address the initial question, the missionary should return from the field when he feels the Lord would have him leave. Works for us.

    Ernie [​IMG]

    [ September 18, 2002, 05:41 PM: Message edited by: Ernie Brazee ]
     

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